Exploration licences are designed to allow companies to acquire speculative and/or proprietary seismic, gravity, magnetic, geochemical and sea-bed data. They do not allow drilling deeper than 350 m below the sea bed.
They are governed by the Offshore Petroleum (Licensing) Regulations 2000 and the Petroleum Survey Licenses (Model Clauses) Regulations 1992 which can be downloaded here.
Exploration licences are not area specific and can apply to all of the Designated Area (or smaller areas as agreed).
Activities undertaken under an exploration licence may extend into a production licence area only with the consent of the production licence holder.
If a production licence holder is using a third party to acquire data on its behalf within its production licence area, it must ensure that the third party holds an exploration licence in its own right in order to conduct such surveys. Production licence holders do not require an exploration licence unless they intend to conduct surveys themselves outside the confines of their production licence areas.
An exploration licence is normally issued for one year, renewable for up to three years.
Notification and data requirements
The Director of Mineral Resources (DMR) must be notified of all surveys to be conducted under an exploration license at least 30 days in advance of operations beginning. The proposed survey information will be circulated to relevant stakeholders for comments, this is likely to include, but is not limited to, the Department of Fisheries, Department of Environmental Planning and British Geological Survey. Operators must complete a PON3 (Notification of Geophysical Surveys) form according to the PON3 guidance available below.
Holders of exploration licences are required to supply copies of all data to the Governor (or more usually to the British Geological Survey). All data will be held in confidence by the Falkland Islands Government for a period of five years (or longer as determined by negotiation) but may then be released to the public.
The Falkland Islands Government, in collaboration with the South Atlantic Research Institute (SAERI) also requests that a metadata record is submitted to the IMS-GIS data centre for any environmental survey (i.e. benthic sampling). The metadata form is included in the downloads below, more information can be obtained from the SAERI website or from DMR. A further download describes the adopted policy for data management, only applicable to non-commercial environmental data. Standard Operating Procedures for the collection of environmental data are currently being produced.
Applications for an exploration licence
An application for an exploration licence can be made at any time by submitting three completed copies of an application form obtainable from the Director of Mineral Resources (or downloadable below), enclosing an application fee of £1000 (cheques made payable to the Falkland Islands Government).