OGA awards contracts for second UK seismic campaign

LONDON – Britain’s Oil & Gas Authority has awarded contracts to PGS and WesternGeco for the second government-funded seismic campaign to promote underexplored areas of the UK continental shelf (UKCS).

PGS and WesternGeco have won the £20-million ($26-million) contracts to acquire seismic data from the East Shetland Platform and South West Britain, respectively. The program is anticipated to collect between 10,000 and 15,000 km (6,213 and 9,320 mi) of new seismic data from underexplored frontier areas.

PGS’ Nordic Explorer is scheduled to carry out seismic surveys across the East Shetland Platform which includes the East Orkney, East Fair Isle, and Dutch Bank basins. WesternGeco’s WG Magellan is scheduled to carry out seismic surveys around southwest Britain, including the Celtic Sea, Western English Channel, Bristol Channel, St George’s Channel, and the Irish Sea.

The acquisition is due to begin this month, subject to receiving the relevant environmental approvals, and will be supplemented by selective reprocessing of legacy seismic datasets. It is expected to be completed during 4Q 2016 and released to industry in 2Q 2017, mirroring the 2015 seismic program which saw more than 40,000 line km (24,854 mi) of new and reprocessed data successfully released to industry earlier this year.

The seismic acquisition program forms part of a package of measures designed to support the oil and gas sector, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year.

OGA said that the areas were selected following engagement with industry and endorsed by the MER UK Exploration Board.

Gunther Newcombe, OGA Director of Exploration and Production, said: “The seismic acquisition program is a critical part of OGA’s plan to revitalize exploration. Last year’s program, which covered the Rockall Trough and Mid-North Sea High areas, sparked significant interest in these frontier areas of the UKCS with more than 3,000 downloads of the standard seismic data packages.

“Studies of these areas are being carried out which will provide valuable insight into their potential ahead of the 29th Offshore Licensing Round which we hope to announce imminently, subject to completion of the strategic environmental assessment.

“The 2016 program is focusing on underexplored frontier areas where no substantial seismic has been acquired in decades. It is expected these areas will be made available for licensing in the 31st Frontier Licensing Round, which will be held in 2018.

“The UKCS is in a unique position having recovered more than 43 Bboe to-date, yet up to 20 Bboe still remains. The challenge is now for industry to increase exploration drilling in the UKCS and work with OGA to meet our shared target of 50 exploration and appraisal wells per year by 2021.”

The UK’s 29th Offshore Licensing Round is due to open in 3Q 2016, subject to completion of the strategic environmental assessment. It covers frontier areas including the Rockall Trough and Mid-North Sea High areas.