Total of 224 applications submitted - the highest number since records began in 1964
Applications from oil and gas companies to develop and explore in the UK North Sea and have hit record highs new official figures show.
A total of 224 oil and gas drilling applications were submitted in the last licensing round in February - 37 more than the previous licensing round high of 187 and the highest number since licensing began in 1964.
The latest application round covers 418 blocks in the UK Continental Shelf.
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: “The UK Government has worked hard to create the right environment to foster confidence in the sector and this record level of interest is proof positive those efforts are working.”
He said: “This is good news for the future of the North Sea and for the thousands of jobs it supports.
“The changes we made in the Budget, which strengthen certainty around issues such as tax and decommissioning costs, have helped give the industry the stability it needs to plan future investment and support jobs in Scotland.”
Energy Minister, Charles Hendry, added: “There remains an extraordinary level of interest in North Sea oil and gas and it is tremendous news for industry and for the UK economy.
“We have been working extremely hard with the oil and gas industry to ensure the UK remains an attractive place to invest.
“The recent Budget was an important step to create a fiscal environment for North Sea development to flourish - providing energy security and jobs.
“Now our task is to ensure this considerable level of interest continues and that we make the most of this valuable, British resource.”
Oil and gas production from the North Sea reportedly peaked in 1999, though the UK Government estimates there are still 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent in UK waters.
The Chancellor, George Osborne announced a £3 billion field development allowance initiative in the last Budget in an effort to stimulate growth in the UK oil and gas sector.
Mr Osborne said he wanted “to ensure we extract the greatest possible amount of oil and gas from our reserves in the North Sea”.
The UK oil and gas sector provides around half of the countries energy needs and supports, directly and indirectly, around 450,000 jobs in the UK.