AN interactive map showing "who owns the North Sea" has been published.

Think tank Common Wealth has revealed the database which shows who owns oil and gas licences in the area.

The website explains on the interactive map that "each circle is a ‘block’, a sub-level of the licenses granted by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which gives the owners exclusive rights to search for and extract fossil fuels in the defined area".

Users can then click on any of the hundreds of red circles to find out who has a license there and where the company is based.

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Matthew Lawrence, director of the think tank, said: "To shine a spotlight on the current state of ownership, we have produced this map for you to explore.

"The map traces the equity ownership of existing licenses granted by the UK Oil and Gas Authority, a government agency, showing the equity stakes and ultimate parent companies of each license block.

"In the heavily regulated space of the North Sea, these licenses – which come with conditions attached that companies must meet to maintain their license - confer exclusive rights to equity holders to 'search and bore for and get' petroleum in a defined area, as set out in the Petroleum Act 1998."

He continued: "Who owns the licenses helps determine who owns and controls the carbon wealth of the North Sea and how its natural bounty is used for whose benefit.

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"The map shows an ownership landscape in transition. Publicly listed Anglo-American oil majors such as Exxon Mobil, BP, and Shell, which have historically led the development of the North Sea, are retreating from their longstanding dominance, selling off billions of pounds worth of hydrocarbon assets.

"At the same time, a new generation of private equity-backed and state-owned entities are rising to prominence. The collective share of oil and gas production accounted for by private companies more than trebled in just ten years, from 8% in 2010 to 30% in 2020.

"Importantly, this shift suggests that while divestment from the North Sea by publicly listed companies is changing who owns the UK’s fossil fuel assets it is not necessarily significantly shrinking oil and gas production."

The interactive map can be accessed here: