UK regulator launches £500,000 competition to stimulate new Rockall oil and gas exploration

Rockall 1The Aberdeen-based UK Oil and Gas Authority has launched a competition linked to future exploration licensing rounds in order to stimulate further offshore oil and gas exploration activity in the North Sea and Atlantic shelf

The £500,000 competition has been designed to encourage geoscientists and engineers to develop innovative interpretations and products potentially using the data acquired from last year’s £20 million seismic surveys of the Rockall Basin and Mid North Sea High (MNSH) areas.

Successful applicants may be awarded up to £30,000 ‘seed funding’ to carry out initial analysis, then two winning candidates may be awarded around £100,000 to develop their work into a final product for use by the OGA.

OGA hopes the competition will not only significantly increase the understanding of these frontier areas in respect of the 29th Seaward Licensing Round later in the year, but also retain talent in the oil and gas community which has been affected by the oil and gas industry downturn. 

The data package available to applicants consists of around 40,000 km of new and reprocessed legacy seismic data (including a substantial set of Broadband 2D seismic data), supplemented by gravity, magnetic and well data.

In addition, in order to stimulate exploration interest in advance of the 29th Licensing Round, OGA will make all of this data openly available at the end of March 2016 – the first time such large quantities of data have been made freely available to all. The data will be published via the Common Data Access (CDA) UKOilandGasData portal.

2 December 2015: You read it first in Scottish Energy News
2 December 2015: You read it first in Scottish Energy News

Gunther Newcombe, Exploration and Production Director at OGA, said: “We hope this competition will lead to a greater understanding of some of the UK’s frontier areas and capture the imagination of some of the brightest minds in the highly talented geoscience community.

“For the first time, substantial quantities of new and reprocessed seismic data will be freely and openly available to all. This, and the forthcoming implementation of a more flexible new licensing regime, will play a crucial role in revitalising exploration of the basin.”

UK Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom (who strongly favours British Independence from the EU) said: “This Government is clear that the broad shoulders of the UK are fully behind our vital oil and gas industry, the hardworking people it employs and the families it supports.

“New exploration is its lifeblood and we funded these seismic studies to support the industry in exploring and unlocking that potential. This competition encourages companies to come up with new, innovative ways to make the most of this data and I look forward to seeing what they propose.”

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