OGA throws in another £20m seismic survey to find new oil reserves at the Rockall frontier

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The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has provided details of some of the projects that will be developed to boost the N. Sea oil and gas industry as part of the UK government’s £125 million half-share investment in the Aberdeen city-shire deal.  

Following a meeting in Aberdeen today between senior representatives from the oil and gas industry and Prime Minister David Cameron, the OGA announced £20 million of new funding for a second round of new seismic surveys in 2016 around Rockall.

Last year, government-funded seismic data was acquired in two prospective areas selected with the agreement of industry (Rockall Trough and Mid North Sea High) and the OGA will make the seismic data acquired in 2015 freely available to industry and academia by March 30 this year. This will result in the release of over 20,000 km of modern broadband 2D seismic data, supplemented by over 15,000 km of legacy seismic and 1,000 km of reprocessed data. 

This project kept three seismic vessels and crew active simultaneously and has resulted in the continued employment of a number of highly-skilled seismic processors and geoscientists at WesternGeco’s bases near Gatwick and in Aberdeen. The project will continue to have significant impact after data release by enabling North Sea oil industry E&P teams to work on associated licensing opportunities, and by sustaining consultancies and the supply chain through the provision of complementary supporting activities.

In addition, OGA will provide £700,000 of Government funding to be invested in the development of a world class 3D visualisation facility at the Lyell Centre in Edinburgh.

The funding will allow the centre, a joint venture between the British Geological Survey and Heriot Watt University, to benefit from state of the art equipment to help better interpret complex geological and engineering data.

The open access facility will support the dissemination of data and analytical tools to academia and industry alike.

In addition, the facility will be used to derive maximum value from the data obtained by the successful Government-funded seismic ‘photo-shoot’ in the Rockall Trough and Mid-North Sea High (MNSH) regions last year.

These ‘frontier’ regions will be the focus of the 29th Offshore Licensing Round which, subject to Strategic Environmental Assessment, will be announced later in the year.  

Rockall exclusive SEN 2 Dec 2015

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Scottish Energy News

2 Dec 2015


OGA has also committed to awarding up to £500,000 of Government funding to support two post doctoral appointments in UK universities, each lasting two years. The appointments, in the fields of geoscience or reservoir engineering, will contribute towards a long-term investment in UK academic skills in energy-related disciplines. 

OGA will shortly be launching a competition to define the exploration potential of the Rockall Trough and MNSH areas using the seismic data acquired from the Government-funded surveys and additional public domain data. Details of the competition will be made available soon, including entry criteria.

Andy Samuel, OGA Chief Executive, said: “The strong commitment from government to support this vital sector during this difficult economic downturn is very welcome.

“The endorsement of the City Region Deal and Oil and Gas Technology Centre will play an important role in anchoring the area’s future as an oil and gas hub, while the £20 million Government support to fund more seismic surveys is a welcome boost to increase exploration.

“The further support being put forward by the Oil and Gas Authority isn’t just an investment in the long-term future of the basin, it will also have immediate benefits to exploration. We’re working hard alongside industry to get the best out of the basin and deliver value to the sector.

“Today’s publication of the MER UK Strategy reflects the collaboration between all parties to achieve this. We continue to provide a flexible and pragmatic approach to licensing, and recently published the lessons learned from our rigorous analysis of failed wells to help mitigate the risks of drilling poor prospects in future.” 

Deirdre Michie, Oil & Gas UK Chief Executive, commented: “Funding of additional seismic activity should open up opportunities for exploration at a time when drilling has collapsed to levels last seen in the 1970s, so is extremely timely.”

Professor John Underhill, the Shell Chair of Exploration Geoscience at Heriot Watt University, said: “I am delighted that the Government is demonstrating its support for and strong commitment to teaching and research in applied geoscience. Whilst the announcement that the CDT program will be extended acknowledges the need to redress training provision for the oil and gas industry, the award of the visualisation suite shows the Government understands the need for the latest technologies to be deployed when imaging the subsurface”.

John Ludden, Executive Director of the British Geological Survey said: “The Lyell Centre is a new and unique collaboration between the British Geological Survey and Heriot Watt University. This investment of the Oil and Gas Authority in the Centre will place it at the forefront of digital visualisation and provide a world-class innovation platform.”

Samuel also said that OGA will continue to play an active part in the Scottish Energy Jobs Taskforce, Opportunity North East (ONE) Board and East of England Task Force.

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