Interest in the possibility of finding oil and gas in the North Sea was aroused following the discovery in the Netherlands in 1959 of the giant Groningen gas field. This suggested to geologists that there might be other large gas fields in similar sandstone structures under the shallow waters off the coast of East Anglia. The first licences for the exploration of the UK sector of the continental shelf were issued in 1964 following the Continental Shelf Act of that year.

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