Fracking exploration licences will be formally granted for 27 blocks across the UK.
The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) announced that 12 firms will have exclusive rights to explore for oil and gas.
Successful companies include Igas, which secured seven blocks, Cirque, which was awarded four, and Cuadrilla, with two. Each block is in the region of 100km2.
Any drilling at the sites will require further consents, including planning permission and environmental permits.
The 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round includes a second group of 132 further blocks which has been subjected to detailed assessment under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.
The findings are now out for consultation and, subject to outcome, the OGA will announce offers for the second group of licence blocks later in the year.
OGA chief executive Andy Samuel said: “With almost 100 applications received, the 14th onshore round has attracted significant interest and high-quality proposed work programmes from a range oil and gas companies.
“Today’s announcement regarding the offer of 27 blocks gives those successful companies assurance about the blocks that they will be formally offered later in the year.”
Energy minister Lord Bourne added: “As part of our long-term plan to build a more resilient economy, create jobs and deliver secure energy supplies, we continue to back our onshore oil and gas industry and the safe development of shale gas in the UK.
“This is why the OGA has moved quickly to confirm the winners of licence blocks which do not need further environmental assessment.”