There has been a record number of applications from companies looking to explore and develop in the North Sea.
The latest licensing round for oil and gas drilling has seen a total of 224 applications submitted.
This is the largest number since offshore licensing began in 1964, and 37 more than the previous round’s high of 187.
UK Energy Minister Charles Henry said it showed an extraordinary level of interest in North Sea exploration.
This round of licensing covers a larger number of blocks of the UK Continental Shelf then the previous round.
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore also hailed the record number of applications.
He 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.”
“This is good news for the future of the North Sea and for the thousands of drilling 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.”