No details on British oil, gas licensing round until end of mourning ends-NSTA

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Handout photograph shows the North Sea oil platform Thistle Alpha

LONDON (Reuters) - No details of an oil and gas licensing round in the British North Sea will emerge until after the official mourning period for Queen Elizabeth ends on Sept. 20, a spokesman for the North Sea Transition Authority said on Monday.

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss, prior to the Queen's passing, said last week the country would announce a new licensing round for more than 100 oil and gas North Sea exploration licences this week as part of an energy package seeking to bolster energy security and curb soaring costs.

But the government cannot make an announcement during the mourning period. The NSTA, a regulator formerly known as the Oil and Gas Authority, is in charge of issuing oil and gas exploration licences.

There have not been any British oil and gas licensing rounds since 2019 as the government is still due to issue a revamped climate and environmental framework for the sector.

Britain and other countries across Europe have been forced to push through multibillion-euro packages to prevent utilities from collapsing and protect households from soaring energy costs triggered mainly by the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister last week said the government would ensure an energy price guarantee, protecting households from rising energy costs, would still be in place for Oct. 1, with the timing unaffected by the country’s mourning period.

No new exploration licences will provide an immediate fuel supply boost since it typically takes five to 10 years from exploration until oil and gas is produced from a new field, requiring a significant commitment from companies involved.

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla and Susanna Twidale, Editing by Louise Heavens)