An investigation has been launched into whether a North Sea operator has reneged on its licence commitments after failing to drill a well.
If found to have been in breach, the company could be fined up to £1 million.
The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) said the firm in question is suspected of failing to meet obligations under a licence it was granted through the 28th offshore round in 2014.
It comes as bids are currently being prepared for the 33rd round in the North Sea, which was launched earlier this month.
The NSTA said the company had been obliged to drill an exploration well and shoot a 3D seismic survey under the terms of the licence award.
The regulator added that it expects companies which are awarded “valuable North Sea licences” to progress them through exploration and production “as quickly as possible” where appropriate.
It will now examine the situation around the licence and changes to company ownership.
The regulator said the licence has previously been extended.
Jane de Lozey, NSTA Interim Director of Regulation, said: “Ensuring the UK’s energy supply is vital, so it is important that companies meet their licence obligations and progress projects as quickly as practicable.
“The NSTA is committed to ensuring the growth of the UK’s energy supply and will not hesitate to take action in cases where companies fail to meet their obligations.”
It’s the latest in a series of probes from the industry regulator – which has historically preferred the carrot to the stick for North Sea opetrators.
Other recent investigations have included a probe into the slow pace of NEO Energy and TotalEnergies’ M&A deal for stakes in 21 North Sea assets, struck in 2021.