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London — The UK regulator on Monday awarded independent Jersey Oil & Gas license blocks in the North Sea that could enable a redevelopment of the defunct Buchan oil field and nearby finds.

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In a statement, Jersey Oil & Gas said the award could unlock more than 100 million barrels of oil equivalent in the "Greater Buchan Area", and potentially another 300 million boe in "prospective" resources.

The award will fuel hopes of stretching out the UK's recent production revival; UK oil output has risen by about 30% in the last five years to around 1.1 million b/d, a level still far off 1990s peaks.

Jersey said it will now put together a development plan for the area that would include the historical Buchan field and the 25 million boe Verbier discovery, made in 2017 by a partnership led by Norway's state-controlled Equinor.

The new hub, in close proximity to the Forties crude pipeline, "will be planned to incorporate the redevelopment of the Buchan oil field, together with the J2 oil discovery, with the potential to include the development of the Verbier discovery, as well as other discovered and yet-to-be-found resources in the Greater Buchan Area," it said.

"First oil, subject to funding, will be targeted for 2024," the statement added, implying Verbier would be pushed back to allow its incorporation in the wider development.

It added it had agreed to a three-month option to allow Equinor to obtain a 50% stake in the newly awarded blocks if it wishes.

The Buchan field first came on line in 1981 and produced nearly 150 million barrels of oil before it was decommissioned in 2017 by then-operator Repsol Sinopec, as the production vessel was no longer deemed safe.

Jersey Oil & Gas, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, estimates Buchan alone still contains over 80 million barrels of recoverable resources.

The award, in a "supplementary" licensing round by the Oil & Gas Authority, "represents a highly significant value-enhancing milestone for our shareholders... with the potential to create a major new area hub," Jersey Oil & Gas said.

The OGA said the award exemplified its efforts to foster collaboration, and noted the continued importance of the North Sea industry, despite the country's carbon reduction goals.

"The OGA fully supports the transition to a low-carbon economy. Government forecasts show that oil and gas will remain an important part of our energy mix for the foreseeable future, and maximizing economic recovery from the UK continental shelf is therefore vital to meet our energy demands and reduce reliance on imports," it said.

-- Nick Coleman, nick.coleman@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jonathan Fox, jonathan.fox@spglobal.com