It comes after the Oil and Gas Authority opened up applications to explore in large areas of the North Sea and West of Shetland.
But environmentalists have hit out at the move.
“Given the UN have said we have 11 years before climate change becomes irreversible, this decision is unsustainable and dangerous," said a spokesman for the Scottish Greens.
“If we are serious about tackling the climate emergency head on, a just transition needs to start right now, not after we’ve extracted every last bit of oil and gas. That means investment in the alternatives and securing jobs has to step up immediately."
It is the 32nd round of licensing for exploratory drilling over more than 50 years.
The Oil and Gas Authority said the North Sea's resources are still seen as part of Britain's future energy mix.
"Maximising economic recovery from the UKCS is vital to meet our energy demands and reduce reliance on imports," it said.