Area Plans

An Area Plan describes how economic recovery of oil and gas should be maximised in a particular geographical area of the UKCS, based on the analysis of evidence. 

The OGA is working closely with operators, licence holders and other interested parties to develop Area Plans across the oil and gas life cycle that integrate exploration, development, production, operations to maximise economic recovery for example through decommissioning to ensure the optimum use of infrastructure to extend the life of hubs.

In response to net zero the OGA is also developing energy Area plans to support industry meeting the government target.

Area Plans are a shared view amongst industry participants of the optimal way to achieve MER UK in a specific set of circumstances. For the majority of Area Plans, the OGA will normally expect industry to lead on developing and delivering the plans

The OGA have developed Guidance to aid the industry’s understanding of their responsibilities for developing Area Plans and help improve collaboration across the UKCS. As experience and practice develop, the OGA will update and review this guidance. 

Under the leadership of Steve Phimister, Industry Cultural Change Champion, industry have created Behavioural Guidelines to help those involved in Area Plans. These Guidelines provide advice, share insights from existing Area Plans groups and signpost to relevant tools and resources. 



A chart detailing the stage gate process model.

The OGA has developed a stage-gate process (diagram above) to help industry develop and track Area Plans. This can be adapted as appropriate to suit individual Area Plans. 

It is the responsibility of industry participants involved in producing and implementing an Area Plan to seek their own assurance that their conduct is compliant with competition law and that an appropriate competition impact assessment has been completed prior to among other things sharing information. The OGA set out the context and background to competition law in a competition and collaboration note published in November 2016.

If there is insufficient progress from industry during the work phase of developing an Area Plan, the OGA may intervene to take the lead from industry – i.e. complete the analysis and share findings with relevant Industry parties, and consider whether to produce a MER UK Plan[1] based on the Area Plan. A ‘MER UK Plan’ sets out the OGA’s view of how any of the obligations of the MER UK Strategy may be met. The OGA is likely to intervene to take the lead when:

  • the process to develop an Area Plan is not proceeding as per the agreed Project Execution Plan (PEP) schedule or
  • the OGA considers that the emerging Area Plan is not broadly consistent with the principal objective


[1] MER UK Plan – a plan as described in paragraphs 23 to 25 of the MER UK Strategy as an ‘OGA Plan’ that sets out the OGA’s views of how any obligations in the MER UK Strategy may be met.