The UK Rockall, located to the west of Scotland and the Hebrides, is a frontier petroleum-bearing basin. Exploratory drilling in the basin took place over a quarter of a century (1980–2006), during which time a total of 12 wells were drilled, leading to the discovery of a single, subcommercial gas accumulation. We argue that the basin, which has seen no drilling activity for more than a decade, has not been sufficiently tested by the existing well stock. We examine the reasons for the absence of key Jurassic source rocks in the UK Rockall wells, which are widely distributed elsewhere on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), and argue that their absence in the wells does not preclude their existence in the basin at large. An evaluation of the Permian–Early Eocene successions, based upon the seismic interpretation of new 2D seismic data, has been integrated with legacy data and regional evidence to establish the potential for source, reservoir and sealing elements within each interval. Finally, we look at the future for exploration in the UK Rockall and suggest a way forward in the drilling of a new joint governmental–industry test well that may help to unlock the exploration potential of this under-explored, yet prospective, basin.

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Under-explored plays and frontier basins of the UK continental shelf collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/under-explored-plays-and-frontier-basins-of-the-uk-continental-shelf

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