The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has welcomed today’s announcement by the Prime Minister of a package of measures to further support the UK oil and gas industry during the current downturn affecting this nationally vital sector.

The announcement came as OGA today hosted a meeting in Aberdeen between the Prime Minister and senior representatives from the oil and gas industry.

The Government and OGA are providing support to the industry in order to boost future exploration in the basin. 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 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.

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.

OGA chief executive Andy Samuel 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.”

Professor John Underhill, Heriot-Watt’s Shell Chair of Exploration Geoscience, 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.”

In addition to these announcements, OGA will continue to work closely with the UK and Scottish Governments and industry to support the oil and gas sector, including supporting UK companies compete for local and global decommissioning opportunities. OGA has continuously stated the importance that key skills are retained in the sector and are very much continuing efforts to ensure people personally affected by this downturn receive assistance to retrain and transfer their skills to other sectors. OGA continues to play an active part in the Scottish Energy Jobs Taskforce, Opportunity North East (ONE) Board and East of England Task Force.


Notes to editors:

  • In 2015 new government-funded seismic data was acquired in two prospective areas selected with the agreement of industry (Rockall Trough and Mid North Sea High). The Government today announced £20m of new funding for a second round of new seismic surveys in 2016.
  • OGA will make the seismic data acquired in 2015 freely available to industry and academia at the end of Q1 2016. 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 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.
  • OGA is collaborating with the new single industry decommissioning board to produce a draft decommissioning strategy in Q1 2016, with a draft plan in Q2. This will address areas including: improving cost efficiency, technology opportunities and stimulating export growth.
  • OGA chief executive Andy Samuel is a member of the new Ministerial group on oil and gas, chaired by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd. The group has been set up to reiterate the UK Government’s commitment to supporting the oil and gas industry and those who work in it. The group will coordinate the UK’s response to the oil price and focus on vital issues such as exports, skills and investment.
  • The next Oil and Gas Day (Fiscal Forum and MER UK Forum) will be held on 19 May 2016.
  • The new UK MER Strategy has been published

For more information please contact:

Leona Minellas
Press and Media Advisor
Oil & Gas Authority
Tel: +44 (0) 300 020 1072