The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) and The British Geological Survey (BGS) are pleased to announce the release of the 21st Century Exploration Roadmap (21CXRM) Palaeozoic Project, aiming to improve the knowledge and data from the underexplored Palaeozoic petroleum systems of the North Sea and Greater Irish Sea.

The project was undertaken with the aim of improving regional knowledge and digital data from the underexplored Palaeozoic petroleum systems of the North Sea and Greater Irish Sea. Work was undertaken as a joint-industry project by BGS with the then Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) then OGA, Oil & Gas UK and 49 oil company sponsors between November 2014 and May 2016.

Key highlights include:

  • On and surrounding the Mid North Sea High: A clearer mapping of widespread Carboniferous source rock intervals, calibration of the stratigraphy and depositional environment with the onshore sequence, and the potential for similar petroleum systems to that of the Breagh Field.
  • In the Orcadian study area: Recognition of the widespread possibilities of Devonian and Carboniferous reservoir intervals to host Jurassic-sourced oil, as well as a more extensive and detailed mapping of potential Devonian and Carboniferous source rocks, with a large variety of possible traps.
  • In the Irish Sea: Detailed tectono-stratigraphic development of Carboniferous source and reservoir intervals with strong links to onshore knowledge.

Peer-reviewed outputs include 25 reports, images, GIS information and 21 gridded surfaces describing the Palaeozoic geology and conventional petroleum systems of parts of the UK offshore. The petroleum systems analysis was based on new interpretations of extensive well data, 125,000 line km of seismic interpretation, gravity-magnetic and source rock datasets, integrated with petrophysical studies, basin modelling and UK onshore knowledge.

The study has further defined the Carboniferous and Devonian petroleum systems over and around the Mid North Sea High and northwards to the Orcadian Basin/East Shetland Platform, whilst in the wider Irish Sea area, the focus was the Carboniferous play.

Jo Bagguley, Principal Regional Geologist at the OGA said: “The 21CXRM initiative is a pivotal part of the OGA’s role in promoting regional exploration opportunities on the UKCS. The outputs of this particular project complement the data acquired from the UK Government seismic acquisition programme and this wouldn’t have been possible without the collaborative approach taken by operators, Oil & Gas UK, the OGA and the BGS working together to improve our collective understanding of the UKCS’ Palaeozoic petroleum systems.”

David Schofield, BGS Science Director for Energy Systems and Basin Analysis, said: “BGS is pleased to make publically available a large set of regional digital data and reports to underpin geological knowledge, as recommended in The Wood Review.”

The products have now been released following the closure of the 29th Offshore Licensing Round and are applicable for use at scales between 1:750,000 to 1:3,000,000.


Notes to Editors:

For further information or interviews with BGS, please contact Kirstin Lemon +44 (0)28 90520979 / +44 (0) 7796931788

For more information about the OGA, please contact:    

Leona Minellas

Communications Manager

Oil & Gas Authority

Tel: +44 (0) 300 020 1072