Oil and Gas: 21st Century Exploration Road Map (21CXRM) Projects

The Exploration Task Force (ETF) had commissioned a review to identify geoscience activities that would support and stimulate exploration activity on the UKCS.

This guidance was withdrawn on

The Oil & Gas Authority launched a new website on 3 October 2016 to reflect its new status as a government company.

This formalises the transfer of the Secretary of State’s regulatory powers in respect of oil and gas to the OGA, and grants it new powers. This website will no longer be updated. Visitors should refer to


One of the key actions of the Wood Report was that Government should urgently assess the potential to stimulate exploration. Further, that an up-to-date, readily accessible, digital perspective on the prospectivity and geology of the UKCS should be developed. These actions fitted well with the aims of the Exploration Task Force (ETF) which had been working for some time to develop the 21st Century Exploration Road Map (21CXRM) of the UKCS.

The ETF had commissioned a review to identify geoscience activities that would support and stimulate exploration activity on the UKCS. The objectives were to:

  • Develop a deeper collective understanding of mature plays that will:
    • Increase prediction accuracy
    • Increase success rate
    • Find bigger pool sizes
  • Create an investment case in the frontier plays that will:
    • Articulate scale of the prize
    • Understand the play risks and the work needed to de-risk the play
    • Produce an investment programme to de-risk the play (seismic acquisition)
  • Set up a collaborative geoscience programme that raises the bar of knowledge of the North Sea

In 2014 the 21CXRM Project Board identified two priority studies:

  1. Post-drill analysis of 98 wells drilled in the Moray Firth – Central North Sea;
  2. A Regional Petroleum Systems Analysis of the Offshore Palaeozoic.

These projects are now running and are supervised by the 21CXRM Project Board, who works closely with industry to ensure a high quality product is delivered.

At the time of set-up both DECC/OGA and the Oil & Gas UK Board envisaged that these projects would form the first genuinely inclusive collaborative work on the UKCS. OGA now has leadership for the whole 21XCRM project and its future phases.

The OGA expectation still is that all companies, whether holders of Traditional or Promote licences, as well as geophysical and geological contractors, will contribute data and knowledge and participate in these studies, so that one of Sir Ian’s Wood key recommendations - Pan Industry Collaboration - is fully implemented.

Data delivery survey : 2015 Government funded seismic surveys over Rockall and greater Mid North Sea High

In the time frame of the 29th Round covering UKCS under explored areas, free data packages will be made available to the Industry, the Academia and the public at large. Data packages will be delivered as a Work station –Ready Product, as well as individually downloadable files.

The data packages will include: processed seismic data from the latest 2015 OGA surveys as well as from legacy data, data base of released well data, Gravity and Magnetic data. Raw data will also be available on request (a media and handling charge will apply).

In order to help sizing the systems (download, USB media) allowing you to obtain the data packages pertaining to the 2015 Government funded seismic surveys, you are kindly requested to fill in this survey (it should not take more than 5 minutes to fill it in) before Friday the 18th of March close of business.

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. The final report is now at the proof reading stage. As soon as the few remaining authorisations to publish are received it will be released on the OGA website.

For more information contact Christian Mathieu, Oil and Gas Authority, Aberdeen

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 is now being 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 continue their support while responsibility for the whole 21XCRM project management has transferred to the OGA. For the Palaeozoic study BGS continues to provide the day to day project management, with a joint Industry Project Board and the Technical Steering Committee, of which OGA and Oil & Gas UK are active participant members

Results from this work will be supplied to the JIP sponsors in the first instance – the composition of released material will be subject to agreement with the various Intellectual Property Right owners. The project is timed for delivery prior to the opening of the 29th Licencing Round, and sponsors will 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 at any time 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, Email

Sponsors are 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. Original sponsors of the project were DECC (now OGA), Oil & Gas UK and BGS. Current Sponsors include the following;

Alpha Petroleum Resources Conoco Phillips Parkmead (E & P)
Antrim Resources Dana Petroleum PGS
Apache North Sea Dea UK SNS Premier Oil Plc
Atlantic Petroleum UK Dolphin Geophysical Senergy
Aurora Petroleum Dong E & P Shell
Azinor Catalyst Dyas UK Spectrum
Bayerngas Europe EBN (Netherlands) Statoil
BG Group E.ON E & P UK Talisman Sinopec
BP GDF Suez E & P UK TGS-Nopec
Cairn Energy Maersk Oil North Sea UK ThinkTank Maths Limited
Centrica Energy MOL Operations UK Total E & P
Chevron Upstream Nexen Petroleum U.K. Verus Petroleum
Chrysaor Origo Exploration UK Western G / Schlumberger
Cluff Natural Resources    

Objectives & Drivers

The high level aim of the project is 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 is 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 has 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 to Sponsors is planned for March 2016 and will tie 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.

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 will be 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. Delivery to project Sponsors in 2016 will coincide with the release by OGA of the UK Government Seismic Programme.

Data and Knowledge Sharing

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

Future Meeting Dates

The next Technical Steering Committee Meeting will take place on 2nd and 3rd December 2015. At which draft results of the CNS/MNSH work will be presented for discussion and peer review. Companies must have made a sponsorship commitment in order to participate otherwise, as stated earlier; they can wait for data release on the 1st July 2017, after the 29th Licence Round has closed.

Maps and a PowerPoint which illustrates the Palaeozoic study

Further Information about Joining as a Sponsor of the 21XCRM Palaeozoic Study


Published 30 October 2015
Last updated 3 February 2016 + show all updates
  1. Data delivery survey : 2015 Government funded seismic surveys over Rockall and greater Mid North Sea High - (added)

  2. Oil and Gas: 21st Century Exploration Road Map (21CXRM) Projects - (added)

  3. First published.