Fergus Ewing, Scottish Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, explores the importance of geological interpretation for extending the life of the mature North Sea Basin.
20 July 2015: PhD students from the Shell Centre for Exploration Geoscience and the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Oil & Gas welcomed Fergus Ewing and NERC's Director of Science and Innovation, Prof. Ian Gillespie, to the Wouter Hoogeveen seismic laboratory in the Shell Centre.
The visitors were given a short introduction to the background and objectives of both the Shell Centre and the CDT by their academic lead, Prof. John Underhill, before listening to presentations by Dr. Rachel Jamieson and Gustavo Guariguata on their recent interpretations of seismic data from areas west of Shetland and the Moray Firth respectively.
The Minister and his aides commented on the value of this information in determining the strategy for both further exploration and production from these areas, as well as the opportunities for alternative use via Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). There was particular interest in the forensic mapping to understand the safe subsurface storage of carbon dioxide in saline aquifers and depleted oilfields.
Mr Ewing said "I was very impressed by the range of work being undertaken by students at the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training and the Centre for Exploration Geoscience. Research such as this supports the oil and gas sector in innovating for the future. The Scottish Government remains committed to using every lever at its disposal to support the sector and I look forward to seeing the results of the various strands of research being undertaken."
The Minister then met Rachael Hunter, one of the three NERC CDT PhD students undertaking their research at Heriot-Watt, and praised the collegiate approach that has brought together the expertise of 17 academic partners, 2 NERC affiliates and 9 industry sponsors for the benefit of the UK oil and gas sectors.
Prof. Gillespie discussed the work of another of the NERC CDT PhD students, Ross Grant and was pleased to hear of the benefits the students derive from the collective group training provided via the CDT, both to their current PhD studies as well as to their eventual career development plans.
There was also plenty opportunity for the visitors to discuss the value of widening public accessibility to recently generated seismic data and the importance of making links to the interpretation of this information which allows geoscientists to see the sub-surface in much greater detail than before.
The visit ended with a final view of progress on construction of the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology, a joint venture between the Scottish Funding Council, British Geological Survey and NERC, and due to open in early 2016.