Petroleum geoscience

Oil rig Ocean Guardian

The petroleum geoscience team works with UK and overseas governments, the World Bank, other national geoscience organisations, oil company consortia and Oil and Gas UK, to provide geological advice and services in support of exploration and development activity.


Our aim is to use and develop our expertise and experience in sub-surface geology, basin analysis and hydrocarbon systems in the following ways:

  • understanding the petroleum potential of the UK and its offshore regions, so that we may advise the UK Oil and Gas Authority on the maximisation of the economic recovery of the UK's hydrocarbon reserves
  • evaluating and documenting the remaining prospectivity of the UK, to help our industry collaborators look for and exploit hydrocarbon resources more efficiently
  • understanding the geological evolution of the UK Continental Shelf in its wider North Atlantic setting, in collaboration with other national geological survey organisations, to fully evaluate the geological context of our collective offshore resources
  • evaluating the petroleum potential of other countries so their governments might facilitate inward investment, leading to further hydrocarbon exploration and development

Our expertise covers a wide range of aspects of the exploration business, from regional geological studies through to prospect generation, field development studies, licensing, and marketing and promotion of opportunities.

We also have considerable experience of negotiating and managing the exploration programmes that governments require oil companies to deliver as part of their licence agreements.


Geology of the Faroe-Shetland Basin and adjacent areas

We have worked (sometimes in in partnerships with specialist economic and engineering consultancies) to deliver integrated geological, prospectivity, economic and development analyses, for clients including:

  • the Falkland Islands Government
  • governments and national oil companies in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and the former Soviet Union
  • the UK Government
  • the World Bank

We have also worked with several different oil company consortia, including:

  • the Rockall Consortium
  • the Passive Margins Modelling Project Consortium
  • the Faroe-Shetland Consortium (FSC; now in its third three year phase)

In addition to the eight oil company sponsors, the FSC is conducted in partnership with Jarðfeingi (Faroese Earth and Energy Directorate) and the Northeast Atlantic Geoscience Tectonostratigraphic Atlas Consortium (NAG-TEC), whose partners comprise the 'NAG group' of north European geological surveys, led by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) and sponsored by a number of oil companies.

The BGS team also played a role in the production of the Southern Permian Basin Atlas and the Millennium Atlas.

Selected research

The team has substantial research interests, and jointly supervises PhD and Masters students at Keele University undertaking a range of cutting-edge research into sub-surface fluid flow in complexly-faulted, dry land depositional systems, in both the UK and the USA. We also have research links with the University of Adelaide in Australia and Heriot-Watt University in the UK.

BGS international work

The Falkland IslandsThe Falkland Islands

The petroleum geoscience team has worked with the Falkland Islands Government since 1992.

The Faroe-Shetland ConsortiumThe Faroe-Shetland Consortium

The petroleum geoscience team coordinates a consortium-based research approach to understanding the tectonostratigraphic evolution of the north west Atlantic margin.

In the UK

UK prospectivityUK prospectivity

The petroleum geoscience team works closely with the UK Oil and Gas Authority.

The 21 Century Exploration RoadmapThe 21 Century Exploration Roadmap

The petroleum geoscience team is working with the UK Oil and Gas Authority, Oil and Gas UK and a consortium of oil companies to evaluate previously overlooked or unfashionable areas of the UK Continental Shelf.


Contact enquiries for further information about BGS petroleum geoscience.