Southern Permian Basin Atlas (SPBA)

Topography and bathymetry

BGS team

The Southern Permian Basin Atlas (SPBA) is an essential companion for oil and gas exploration for northern Europe.

The Atlas systematically describes the onshore and offshore hydrocarbon-related geology of the area, on a system by system basis.

Further chapters review tectonic development, source rock potential, hydrocarbon prospectivity and summarise the varying petroleum licensing criteria for each national area.


The focus of the Atlas is a series of detailed regional maps (1:3 000 000 scale) cross-sections and related concise, up-to-date hydrocarbon exploration-focused texts.

Each chapter specifically considers the petroleum prospectivity and development of the area, past, present and future, centred around a knowledge base that extends back into the 19th century, but which continues to reveal new petroleum prospects and finds on a regular basis.

Origin of the SPBA Atlas

Berlin Team Meeting Oct 2005

The Southern Permian Basin Atlas is a comparatively rare collaboration between countries, their industries, academia and government; all working together to produce a regional overview of the oil and gas resources.

Government representatives from six different nations (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and the UK), joined together with sponsors from the petroleum industry and academia to facilitate this major study of regional significance for future energy development and planning.



The Atlas provides an overview of the history and development of the petroleum industry in northern Europe and covers an area extending from Poland in the east to the United Kingdom in the west — see Atlas Introduction. While the Atlas is based on datasets stretching back over 100 years it also looks at the present and future exploration potential of this prolific hydrocarbon province.

Project Team

The project was suggested and promoted initially by Professor Ken Glennie to whom the project teams pay tribute for his continuing support and interest. Under the leadership of Hans Doornenbal at TNO the project team raised funding and acquired data through governments, licensing agencies, international petroleum companies and consultancies, with the full support of the academic community (web-link to images of Atlas teams at various locations). Production of the resulting Atlas datasets was co-ordinated through the national geological surveys of each member country.

In summary

The Atlas is a comprehensive summary and assessment of the petroleum history and prospectivity of the area to date. However, long experience also tells us that there is much more to be revealed, both in terms of an improved understanding of its geological complexities, and concerning the potential for further gas and oil discoveries to be made, in what we would still consider a vibrant petroleum province.