Paucity of legacy oil and gas subsurface data onshore United Kingdom: implications for the expansion of low carbon subsurface activities and technologies

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Mark Ireland, Rachel Brown, Miles Wilson, Paul Stretesky, Richard Davies


The decarbonisation of energy systems to achieve net zero carbon emissions will likely see the rapid development of carbon capture and storage, energy storage in the subsurface and geothermal energy projects. Subsurface data such as seismic reflection surveys and borehole data are vital for geoscientists and engineers to carry out comprehensive assessments of both the opportunities and risks for these developments. Here, for the first time, legacy subsurface data from onshore oil and gas exploration in the UK is collated and analysed. We provide a description of the spatial coverage and a chronology of the acquisition of key seismic reflection and borehole data, as well as examine data resolution and limitations. We discuss the implications of spatial variability in subsurface datasets and the associated subsurface uncertainty. This variability is vitally important to understanding the suitability of data for decision making. We examine societal aspects of data uncertainty and discuss that when the same data are used to communicate subsurface uncertainty and risk, the source of the data should also be considered, especially where data is not easily publicly accessible. Understanding the provenance of data is vitally important for future geoenergy activities and public confidence in subsurface activities.



Earth Sciences, Geology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Geology, data, geoenergy, geostatistics, onshore, public perception, subsurface, uncertainty


Published: 2020-08-05 03:37

Last Updated: 2022-10-07 06:22

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International