21st Century roadmap

One of the key actions of the Wood Report was that Government and Industry should together create an up-to-date, readily accessible, digital perspective on the prospectivity and geology of the UKCS.

To further this aim, the 21st Century Roadmap Technical Advisory Committee, which reports to the MER Exploration Board, is responsible for a five-year plan of regional subsurface studies to support ongoing exploration initiatives and future licensing activities. The overall objectives of these studies are to:

  1. In mature areas, support technical assurance in order to improve technical success rates, reduce uncertainty, and high-grade the most attractive prospects
  2. In frontier areas, promote investment in new opportunities that will result in the de-risking and exploitation of new and emerging plays.

The Technical Advisory Committee will openly invite tenders for technical projects and ensure that studies are effectively managed and delivered to the benefit of project sponsors and MER UK. The committee is led by the OGA, and has representation from the following organisations: Azinor Catalyst, BayernGas, BP, Chevron, DONG, ENGIE, Hurricane Energy, Maersk Oil, Shell, Siccar Point Energy.

The OGA expectation is that all companies that hold an Exploration or Production Licence in the UK will contribute funding, data and knowledge to these studies and actively participate with a genuinely collaborative spirit.

Active projects

As part of the 21st Century Exploration Road Map initiative (21CXRM) and in collaboration with the 21CXRM Technical Advisory Committee, the OGA has awarded two contracts for petroleum system related studies for both the East Shetland Platform and South West Approaches areas.

Projects were tendered as two separate lots. The projects in the East Shetland Platform have been awarded to FROGTECH (lot 1) and IGI Ltd (lot 2). The South West Approaches projects have been awarded to Getech (lot 1) and BGS (lot 2).

Provision of such studies has been supported by the MER UK Exploration Task Force complement the acquisition and reprocessing of seismic data in this area which has formed part of the 2016 Government Seismic Programme. The main objective of the proposed studies is to enhance industry knowledge and understanding of both areas ahead of the 31st Frontier Licencing Round.

The contracts represent the initial phases of what will hopefully be more extensive regional projects, pending additional industry funding being made available. Both of these tenders are being internally funded by OGA and to this end, the results of both studies will be released into the public domain on completion.

Find out more here.

Enquiries should be directed to Jo.Bagguley@ogauthority.co.uk

Proposed projects

To be announced. These are likely to include focussed biostratigraphic and geochemical studies of mature regions and plays.

Completed projects

  • Moray Firth – Central North Sea post well analyses


    A post well analysis of exploration and appraisal wells drilled during 2003-2013 in the Moray Firth and the UK central North Sea has been carried out. Wells fall into three categories: dry, technical success, and commercial success. The project focused on the dry wells and the technical but not commercial successes. This was a deliberate move to ensure that we captured key learnings that could be transferred across industry.

    The Project objectives:

    • Fully understand the reasons why each prospect was drilled, i.e. understanding its geological and petroleum settings;
    • Attempt to understand the reasons for success and failure of wells over the 10 year period;
    • Share the main findings with the industry;
    • Test the Wood Review’s “Collaborative Model”.

    Wells in the project

    150 Exploration main bores plus exploration side-tracks were drilled between 2003 and 2013, by 42 Operating Companies. Of these, 98 wells and have been reviewed, allowing an in depth post drill analysis of 104 segments (note on segments - one exploration well may target several superimposed petroleum objectives or well segments).

    Project phases

    The first project stage consisted of selecting the wells to be reviewed and establishing the template for a Post Well Analysis Sheet to summarise the main results of each well.

    The second stage consisted of one-to-one workshops with operating companies to compare the pre-drill prospect description with the final well results and subsequent interpretations, in order to understand and agree the main reasons for well failure.

    The third phase was to develop a selection of case histories. This involved multi-company workshops, gathering Operators who had drilled the same petroleum play in the same geological setting, and encouraging them to share their understanding of the main reasons for failure.

    Final results

    Final results were presented to the industry at the O&GUK Annual Conference in Aberdeen on June the 17th, 2015, at the PGC VIII conference held in London on the 29th September 2015 and at a PESGB evening lecture on the 20th of October in Aberdeen.

    Copies of the Presentation, Post Well Analysis Sheet, Map and well list are below:

  • Regional Petroleum Systems Analysis of the Palaeozoic

    Overview and sponsorship

    This geoscientific study was commissioned by DECC (now OGA) as part of their Maximising Recovery Programme (OG-MRP) contract with the British Geological Survey (BGS); this arrangement ensured easy access to all data sources for the project. The study was operated as a Joint Industry Project (JIP) with approximately 50% Government funding and 50% industry funding, with a contribution from Oil &Gas UK. The project started in January 2015. Oil & Gas UK continued their support while responsibility for the whole 21XCRM project management transferred to the OGA. For the Palaeozoic study BGS provided the day to day project management, with a joint Industry Project Board and the Technical Steering Committee, of which OGA and Oil & Gas UK were active participant members

    Results from this work have been supplied to the JIP sponsors in the first instance – the composition of released material being subject to agreement with the various Intellectual Property Right owners. The project was delivered prior to the opening of the 29th Licencing Round, and sponsors have exclusive access to the results until after the Round is closed.

    In a move designed specifically to encourage data sharing within industry and academia the results of the Palaeozoic Study will be publicly released on the internet after the round is closed, or on 1st July 2017 at the latest.

    Companies can still join through a one-off subscription mechanism as follows:

    • UK Promote Licence holders and non-licence holders £5,000
    • Licence holders without production £10,000
    • Licence holders with production £20,000

    The cut-off date for sponsors joining is the closure of the 29th Licencing Round application period. For further Information about joining as a Sponsor of the 21XCRM Palaeozoic Study, please email oga.correspondence@ogauthority.co.uk

    Sponsors were eligible to take part in technical discussions with the project team, including attendance at Technical Steering Committee Meetings held in Edinburgh approximately every 2 months. Objectives & drivers

    The high level aim of the project was to:

    • Encourage research deeper and wider than the conventional hydrocarbon horizons
    • Develop a strong, consistent regional data-set to provide a platform for more specific oil & gas exploration studies
    • Develop a new scientific understanding
      • that down-risks some of the critical play elements
      • that stimulates new ideas for plays and prospectivity
    • Provoke
      • new data acquisition
      • additional analysis and interpretation programmes
    • Lead to
      • licence activity
      • significant exploration well activity
      • economic commercial success rates

    The remit was to maximise collaboration and knowledge sharing to create a starting point that enables both licence holders and service providers to leverage their competitive strengths and maximise commercial success on the UKCS as follows:

    • Achieve the best understanding we can to ensure that a greater number of more successful wells are drilled by the industry
    • Develop win-win arrangements for optimal use of commercially owned IP such as seismic data
    • Facilitate a fully integrated collaborative approach across the whole industry

    Project scope, plan and deliverables

    The project had three phases covering the following areas

    • Central North Sea/Mid North Sea High
    • Moray Firth/Orcadian Basin
    • Irish Sea

    Early on in the project the sponsors took the decision to focus primarily on the Devonian and Carboniferous, as opposed to the Permian, which has been covered extensively by previous detailed studies.


    Delivery of final results from the Central North Sea/Mid North Sea High area was made end to sponsors at the end of March 2016 and was tied in to the release of seismic data from the government funded acquisition programme giving industry a uniquely new insight into key areas of the North Sea. Subsequent products from the Irish Sea and Orcadian Basin areas were delivered to Sponsors at the end of May, marking the end of the 21CXRM Palaeozoic project.

    Workflow and deliverables

    The workflow for the Palaeozoic project allows industry to investigate key components of the petroleum systems within the Carboniferous and Devonian by integrating well data and modern offshore seismic data with UK onshore knowledge. Key elements are summarised as follows:

    Project results have been delivered digitally and include interpretations of seismic, well and gravity data, along with burial/uplift/maturity modelling, source rock geochemistry studies and palaeographic reconstructions, to inform the location of prospective Carboniferous and Devonian play elements. Samples of commercial data used (e.g. speculative seismic) may be provided in the final report, subject to permission from the owners. Generalised interpretations based on commercial data will be provided subject to permission from the data owners.

    Data and knowledge sharing

    All companies and individuals were welcome to contribute data and knowledge to the project, subject to ownership and confidentiality rights. However contribution in-kind did not qualify for participation as a sponsor.

    Maps and a Powerpoint which illustrates the Palaeozoic study


    For further information about joining as a sponsor of the 21XCRM Palaeozoic Study, please email oga.correspondence@ogauthority.co.uk