The Rockall Basin in the UK Atlantic Margin represents an opportunity for petroleum exploration with discoveries on the eastern margin pointing to several working hydrocarbon systems. However, this deep-water frontier exhibits exploration challenges: only few wells, and, until recently, only limited vintage seismic control existed; in addition, extensive Paleocene basalt lava successions and sills in some places complicate data interpretation of pre-Tertiary strata and structures.

Application of the latest seismic acquisition and processing technology provides essential information on the sub-basalt strata and structures, and better resolution through Cenozoic intervals. It significantly enhances our understanding of the petroleum systems.

Petroleum system modelling shows encouraging results for several plays in the Rockall area and that the Benbecula and Dooish discoveries are not likely to be exceptions. Mesozoic plays along the basin’s eastern margin appear promising with respect to sufficient sealing and timing of generation/migration/ accumulation of hydrocarbons. Modelling predicts that Paleogene plays are less prospective due to insufficient sealing capacities of Paleogene mudstones; however, the Benbecula discovery illustrates that such plays are in fact working in the region.

Recent seismic acquisition, enabling enhanced subsurface coverage, and revealing the deeper (sub-igneous) intervals, suggests the next hydrocarbon discovery is forthcoming along the Northeast Atlantic Margin.


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