The 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 United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS).

The £500,000 competition has been designed to encourage geoscientists and engineers to develop innovative interpretations and products potentially using the data acquired during last year’s successful £20 million Government-funded 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.

It is hoped 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.

Gunther Newcombe, OGA Exploration and Production Director, 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.”

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom 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.”


A chart detailing the 3 phases of the licence competition.



Notes to editors:

  • The competition was announced by the Prime Minister on 28 January 2016 as part of a package of government support measures for the oil and gas industry during his visit to Aberdeen.
  • Total prize money available in 2016 is £500,000. A further £500,000 may be available to repeat the competition in 2017. A total prize fund of £450,000 will be made available for the exploration licence competition, with £50,000 to be made available for a schools competition to be announced later in the year.
  • The 29th Seaward Licensing Round, focusing on frontier areas, will open later in the year (subject to Strategic Environmental Assessment.
  • Final processed and raw data relating to the competition and the 29th Seaward Licensing Round will be made freely and openly available at the end of March 2016, including full-offset stacks, angle stacks, gathers, velocity data, navigation data, gravity data, magnetic data and well log data. A handling charge will be made for data provided on physical media. Data will be available via Common Data Access (CDA)
  • Common Data Access (CDA) is an operating subsidiary of Oil & Gas UK, set up in 1995 to provide cost-effective data management services to its members and to the UK oil industry in general.
  • For more information on the competition and to register an expression of interest, please click here.

For more information please contact:

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