The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Wednesday, 27 February 2019 01:00

Potential oil and gas exploitation in the North Sea

Previous and revised geological model of Rattray Volcanic Province, North Sea-University of Aberdeen Previous and revised geological model of Rattray Volcanic Province, North Sea-University of Aberdeen.

A region of the North Sea could be exploited to extract oil and gas but first scientists must clarify the geological background of the area.

The 7000-km2 area of interest is the Rattray Volcanic Province, previously considered a field that contains magma and thus, oil or gas could not exist there. However, researchers from the University of Aberdeen are challenging this perspective. 

Until recently, the region was believed to hold the remains of three extinct volcanoes which erupted in the Jurassic era, about 165 million years ago. Nevertheless, according to the study conducted by Dr. Nick Schofield and PhD student Ailsa Quirie, from the University of Aberdeen's School of Geosciences in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University and the University of Adelaide, this assumption is incorrect. The area was re-evaluated by combining 3D seismic data from Norway's Petroleum Geo-Services with well data. The results showed the region contains lava fissures or cracks and not the remains of a volcanic eruption

"There is a huge area under there that hasn't been looked at in detail for a long time, because of the previously incorrect geological model," Dr. Schofield said. "Fresh and pioneering thinking combined with new data analysis techniques can challenge previous exploration models and deepen our understanding of the significant UK North Sea resources yet to be recovered," Katy Heidenreich, industry body Oil and Gas UK's operations optimization manager, commented.

The findings of the study do not ensure that the region will contain large quantities of oil thus its potential must be evaluated. The area was left undisturbed for about 50 years but companies may now investigate its exploitation. "What we found has completely overturned decades of accepted knowledge. This gives us back a huge amount of gross rock volume that we never knew existed, in one of the world's most prolific regions for oil and gas production," Dr. Schofield stated.

Even if oil and gas stocks exist in Rattray Volcanic Province, their extraction will be challenging. However, technology is rapidly improving and will be capable of addressing severe difficulties, scientists said.


Read 199 times Last modified on Wednesday, 27 February 2019 15:16

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