The Oil and Gas Authority today released the results of the £20 million UK Government-Funded seismic programme to promote exploration activity in under-explored areas of UK Continental Shelf. This data will support the forthcoming 31st Offshore Licensing Round which will open in mid-2018.

This dataset is now available to industry and academia, and contains close to 19,000 km of newly acquired broadband seismic data, new gravity and magnetic surveys, approximately 23,000 km of reprocessed legacy seismic data, a rejuvenated set of digital well data, in addition to various supplementary reports.

The new marine 2D surveys, acquired during Summer 2016, cover the East Shetland Platform and South West Britain areas, with reprocessed datasets stretching along the English Channel and up the western areas of the UK as far as the Hebrides. Together with data from the 2015 seismic programme, this provides a regional exploration dataset for almost all of the UK’s under-explored offshore shelf, in regions where no substantial activity has occurred in decades.

The data have been published under open licences, and the key data packages can be downloaded for free, with complete data packages (including field data) available to order on media from CDA's UK Oil and Gas Data. The larger data packages will be available on digital media only, for which a nominal charge will be made to recover media, handling, and delivery costs.

The OGA has also released a set of regional studies on the East Shetland Platform and SW Approaches Basin and a comprehensive set of regional maps across the Southern North Sea to supplement maps published earlier this year for the Central North Sea and Moray Firth. An updated UKCS well tops database is also available with the aim of providing these data in a more readily accessible format. (see notes section at end for further information)

The East Shetland Platform and SW Approaches studies were funded by the OGA through the 21st Century Exploration Roadmap (21CXRM) initiative and the contract for a second phase of studies in these areas, jointly funded by the OGA and an industry participant group, was recently awarded to APT.

Jo Bagguley, OGA principal regional geologist said: “The seismic acquisition programme is a vital part of the OGA’s plan to help revitalise exploration with up to £40 million already spent to provide modern coverage of nearly all underexplored regions of the UKCS. This new data will provide valuable insight to companies identifying new plays and prospects ahead of the 31st Offshore Licensing Round in 2018.

“The UKCS has a lot to play for with up to 10 to 20 billion barrels of oil still remaining. The challenge is now for industry to increase the level and quality of exploration drilling across the UKCS and work together with the OGA in maximising economic recovery.”

Katy Heidenreich, Oil & Gas UK’s operations optimisation manager said: “Improving access to quality well and seismic data is a key lever to unlocking exploration activity on the UKCS. This data release marks another key milestone in the collective drive towards improving commercial success rates and stimulating fresh interest in potential new development opportunities.”

Malcolm Fleming, chief executive of CDA, the Oil & Gas UK subsidiary which manages said: “The significant improvement in the quality and availability of the data over these areas will allow geoscientists to re-evaluate previous interpretations, leading to a re-think of the prospectivity and potential of the petroleum systems in place and reappraisal of discoveries previously thought to be uneconomic, as well as the discovery of new prospects for exploration drilling.”

PGS and WesternGeco were awarded the contracts to acquire and process seismic data from the East Shetland Platform and South West Britain respectively. Acquisition was completed in late 2016, mirroring the 2015 seismic programme which saw more than 40,000 km of new and reprocessed data successfully released to industry.

This second seismic acquisition programme forms part of a package of measures from the Government designed to support the oil and gas sector. The areas were selected following engagement with industry and endorsed by the MER UK Exploration Task Force.

PGS vessel the Nordic Explorer carried out seismic surveys across the East Shetland Platform which includes the East Orkney Basin, East Fair Isle Basin and Dutch Bank Basin. The WesternGeco vessel WG Magellan carried out seismic surveys around South West Britain, including; the Celtic Sea, Western English Channel, Bristol Channel, St George’s Channel and the Irish Sea.


Notes to the Editor:

  1. The first Government-funded seismic programme in 2015 which covered the Rockall Trough and Mid-North Sea High areas, sparked significant interest in these frontier areas of the UKCS with more than 5,000 downloads of the standard seismic data packages. The data provided valuable insight ahead of the 29th Offshore Licensing Round which attracted a number of high-quality licence applications.
  2. Government-funded Seismic Data have been published under the Open Government Licence and OGA User Agreement 
  3. Data downloads from CDA are limited to 20 GB in size due to network constraints. All packages are additionally available to order on digital media.
  4. CDA supports industry in maximising economic recovery from the UK by providing online-services for sharing and releasing UKCS subsurface data.
  5. OGA-funded Regional Reports, Maps and Supplementary Data are available via the Open Data Centre. The Direct Link is:


    Pre 31st Round Data Release


    OGA Regional Geology Maps

    Users should also be aware that there have been a few modifications to the Central North Sea and Moray Firth maps so these should be re-downloaded if required.
  6. For further information on the 30th Licensing Round please see OGA’s Press Release for the 30th Licensing Round.