A swathe of new data from a £20million UK Government-funded seismic programme is expected to encourage oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) hopes the information it is making available to industry and academia today will boost activity in under-explored areas, while also supporting the 31st UK offshore licensing round due to launch in mid-2018.
It includes nearly 12,000 line miles of newly acquired broadband seismic findings, gravity and magnetic survey results and more than 14,000 miles of reprocessed legacy data, as well as a “rejuvenated” set of digital well data and various supplementary reports.
New marine 2D survey results take in the East Shetland Platform and South West Britain, while reprocessed data sets cover parts of the English Channel and western areas of the UK as far as the Hebrides.
Together with data from the 2015 seismic programme, this maps out nearly all of the UK’s under-explored offshore shelf in regions where no substantial activity has occurred in decades.
OGA principal regional geologist Jo Bagguley said: “The seismic acquisition programme is a vital part of the OGA’s plan to help revitalise exploration, with up to £40million already spent to provide modern coverage of nearly all under-explored regions of the UKCS (UK continental shelf).
“This new data will provide valuable insight to companies identifying new plays and prospects ahead of the 31st offshore licensing round in 2018.”
She added: “The UKCS has a lot to play for, with up to 10-20billion barrels of oil still remaining. The challenge is now for industry to increase the level and quality of exploration drilling across the UKCS and work together with the OGA in maximising economic recovery.”
Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) operations optimisation manager Katy Heidenreich said: “Improving access to quality well and seismic data is a key lever to unlocking exploration activity on the UKCS.
“This data release marks another key milestone in the collective drive towards improving commercial success rates and stimulating fresh interest in potential new development opportunities.”
Malcolm Fleming, chief executive of CDA, the OGUK subsidiary which manages UKOilandGasData.com, said: “The significant improvement in the quality and availability of the data over these areas will allow geoscientists to re-evaluate previous interpretations, leading to a re-think of the prospectivity and potential of the petroleum systems in place and reappraisal of discoveries previously thought to be uneconomic, as well as the discovery of new prospects for exploration drilling.”