Scotland business

Funding for Minch and Firth of Clyde oil and gas seabed surveys

Oil and gas data
Image caption The funding is for new analysis of seismic data harvested 25 years ago

The search for oil and gas in the Minch and Firth of Clyde is to be stepped up, with UK government funding to update past seabed surveys.

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) is spending £2.5m, from the Treasury, to fund new data analysis of seismic data harvested 25 years ago.

Since then, techniques for analysing data have improved.

There is also a better understanding of what it can show in terms of subsea fields.

As well as water off the west coast of Scotland, the money is also being spent on data collected by seismic surveys around south-west England, the Bristol Channel, off the west coast of Wales and Morecambe Bay.

'Unlock exploration'

The Oil and Gas Authority has distributed £40m of government grants over the past two years to fund seismic surveys and data analysis, made available at very low cost in a bid to stimulate drilling activity.

With the downturn in oil prices, the amount of exploration for new fields in UK waters has fallen to its lowest level in 50 years.

Most of that money is being spent on new seismic surveying, focussed on the seabed platform east of Shetland, and on the seas around south-west England.

Last year, funding was provided to re-process existing data from the area west of the Hebrides around Rockall, and in the mid-North Sea.

The OGA says that if the Minch and Firth of Clyde data is to lead to further drilling, it would be for the Scottish government to decide on drilling approval.

Nick Richardson, OGA exploration and new ventures manager, commented: "The combination of the Rockall and Mid-North Sea High data acquired in 2015, the two new broadband seismic datasets being acquired this summer in South West Britain and the East Shetland Platform, and the reprocessing of legacy datasets in 2016 and 2017 will form part of a consistent, modern, regional 2D seismic dataset across large, under-explored areas of the UK Continental Shelf that will be provided to the industry for a nominal fee.

"These data have the potential to unlock exploration potential in areas that have not been looked in earnest for decades and consequently have not benefitted from the latest acquisition and processing techniques.

"The data packages will support the evaluation of acreage to be made available in the 29th Offshore Licensing Round, which is open now, and future planned licence rounds."

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