§ Mr. Michael Brown
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will arrange a further opportunity for holders of old-style onshore petroleum exploration licences to convert them into new-style licences.
§ Mr. Peter Morrison
I have today placed in the Libraries of both Houses the text of a notice to be published in the London and Edinburgh Gazettes as soon as possible inviting applications for landward petroleum exploration licences. The invitation is directed only to those with exploration licences awarded under the previous 1976 or 1982 Petroleum Production Regulations and I have specified that applications may be made between 10 am and 12 noon on 18 October 1988.
Old-style exploration licences do not permit exploration drilling to be undertaken. The opportunity which I am now giving will enable the holders of old-style licences to apply for a new exploration licence with a view to proceeding to the drilling stage. Holders of old-style licences expiring within the next 12 months who expect to want to undertake exploration drilling are advised to take advantage of this opportunity, since it is unlikely that there will be any further conversion opportunities until the second half of 1989.
Any wells to be drilled on new licences will also need the agreement of the landowner and occupier, and the consent of the local planning authorities. In certain cases an environmental impact assessment may also need to be prepared.