Data is the deal breaker in regional exploration mapping

In August 2016, an LR team of geoscientists started working on a new three year project funded by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) for which a new set of Regional Exploration Maps will be created for the UK Continental Shelf. In time these maps will all be made publicly available through the OGA website. This will facilitate access to geological information which in turn accelerates the work that needs to be done to define new exploration targets, a sought after asset in the UKCS and the North Sea these days!  

The project forms part of the OGA’s wider goal to maximise economic value of the UKCS and contracts replace the Oil & Gas Maximising Recovery Programme (OGMRP) contracts which were previously led by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. 

So, what’s the starting point for such a big project? Initially, it was decided to split up the UKCS in a number of smaller areas. We started working on the Moray Firth and Central North Sea first, in order to have maps ready for the 30th Licensing Round which will cover mature areas of the UKCS. The amount of data available is impressive: in the Moray Firth and Central North Sea alone, 2000 exploration and appraisal wells were drilled and 200.000 kilometres of 2D seismic was acquired already by the end of the 1980’s, let alone all the other lines acquired more recently. The challenge of this project is to integrate as much data as possible without being mired in it. 

Fortunately, there are several public domain data syntheses already available which can be used as a guide for this study, such as the Millennium Atlas and the Southern Permian Basin Atlas. In addition, LR has a strong track record of industry-recognised regional geological studies marketed under the name Ternan (2003 – 2015). This project will use the datasets compiled within the framework of the Ternan studies, authored by Dr David Mudge, guaranteeing a strong technical input and continuation of a fruitful collaboration.

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Project overview:

Lloyd's Register secured two major UKCS projects with the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) for the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), for the provision of Regional Exploration Maps and Regional and Field Support Engineering Services to help the OGA independently assess remaining undiscovered resources and improve geotechnical understanding. Full detail of the project win can be read here.

Henk Kombrink
Senior Geologist