Heriot-Watt's School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society is benefitting from the award of a £250,000 grant from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), the new UK Government regulatory body overseeing oil and gas activities on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), which was set up last year to rejuvenate the North Sea.
The funding is part of a package of measures and UK Government funding announced by the Prime Minister on 28 January to further support the UK oil and gas industry and boost future exploration in the North Sea during the current downturn affecting the sector.
The grant will support research evaluating the Geological Structure and Hydrocarbon Prospectivity of the Western Platform and Mid North Sea High areas of the Central North Sea. It demonstrates the UK Government's commitment towards a long-term investment in UK academic skills in energy-related disciplines and is the first such award made by the new regulatory body.
Professor John Underhill, Heriot-Watt's Professor of Exploration Geoscience said: “I am delighted that the UK Government is demonstrating its support for and strong commitment to teaching and research in Applied Geoscience by awarding us this grant worth £250,000. It will support a two year full-time Post-doctoral research position which will undertake a Mid North Sea High study as part of OGA's inaugural 'Frontier Basins' research initiative.
“I have since learnt that the award was won in the face of stiff competition as there were a total of eight bids involving ten Universities. The proposal was worked up with Shauna Thompson in EGIS, whose support was hugely significant in helping us win the award. The award was also aided and facilitated by our recent successful bid to house the Oil and Gas Authority's 3D Visualisation Suite in the Lyell Centre at the Edinburgh campus. The state of the art equipment will help better interpret complex geological and engineering data and the open access facility will support the dissemination of data and analytical tools to academia and industry alike. It will be named after our illustrious alumni, Dame May Ogilvie-Gordon.”
The two awards mean that OGA has invested almost £1 Million in Heriot-Watt and the Lyell Centre to date, which represents two thirds of their research funding making Heriot-Watt their largest University investment.
Dr Nick Richardson, OGA's Head of Exploration and New Ventures said: “Academic involvement in the 2015 UK Government-Funded Seismic Programme was one of the key objectives of the project from its inception, and I am extremely pleased that the OGA has been able to support these awards. The post-doctoral research projects will be run and overseen by globally-recognised technical experts, and the Heriot-Watt team, led by Professor Underhill, is ideally-placed to improve the fundamental geological understanding of the Mid North Sea Area and help stimulate vital exploration activity.
"The level of competition for the awards underlines the strength of Energy and Geoscience research at Heriot-Watt, and the OGA look forward to working together collaboratively on this project over the next two years.”
The image below shows representative high fidelity seismic lines acquired as part of the new Government-sponsored Mid North Sea High program that form part of the 2D data grid available to the project.