Licences for oil and gas exploration in UK waters were announced on Wednesday, including 22 licences for deepwater oil drilling opposed by environmental campaigners. These deepwater licences were granted across 64 sea blocks to the north and west of the Shetland Isles. However, the total number of licences granted has been cut by more than a quarter to 144. Other licences, due to be granted for areas such as the Thames Estuary, Liverpool bay and the north sea off the coast of Norfolk, have been withheld whilst tests are carried out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to establish potential impacts on wildlife.
Aberdeen-based oil company Petrofac has been awarded a £500m contract to develop a gas processing plant on Shetland. The scheme is being led by French company Total and is thought to promise hundreds of jobs when gas begins to come ashore from the new plant in 2014.