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The tectonic and stratigraphic framework of the United Kingdom’s oil and gas fields

John R. Underhill
John R. Underhill
School of Geosciences, The University of Edinburgh, Grant Institute of Earth Science, King’s Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JW, Scotland, UK , e-mail:
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January 01, 2003


Onshore exploration success during the first half of the 20th century led to petroleum production from many, relatively small oil and gas accumulations in areas like the East Midlands, North Yorkshire and Midland Valley of Scotland. Despite this, the notion that exploration of the United Kingdom’s continental shelf (UKCS) might lead to the country having self-sufficiency in oil and gas production would have been viewed as extremely fanciful as recently as the late 1950s. Yet as we pass into the new century, only thirty-five years on from the drilling of the first offshore well, that is exactly the position Britain finds itself in. By 2001, around three million barrels of oil equivalent were being produced each day from 239 fields. The producing fields have a wide geographical distribution, occur in a number of discrete sedimentary basins and contain a wide spectrum of reservoirs that were originally deposited in diverse sedimentary and stratigraphic units ranging from Devonian to Eocene in age. Although carbonates are represented, the main producing horizons have primarily proved to be siliciclastic in nature and were deposited in environments ranging from aeolian and fluviatile continental red beds, coastal plain, nearshore beach and shelfal settings all the way through to deep-marine, submarine fan sediments. This chapter attempts to place each of the main producing fields into their proper stratigraphic, tectonic and sedimentological context in order to demonstrate how a wide variety of factors have successfully combined to produce each of the prospective petroleum play fairways and hence, make the UKCS such a prolific and important petroleum province.

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Figures & Tables


Geological Society, London, Memoirs

United Kingdom Oil and Gas Fields Commemorative Millennium Volume

J. G. Gluyas
J. G. Gluyas
Acorn Oil Gas Ltd, Staines, Middlesex, UK
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H. M. Hichens
H. M. Hichens
Oil and Gas Directorate, London, UK
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2003




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