In ancient sedimentary basins around the world, accumulations of natural gas and oil have been created by millennia of heat and pressure.

The UK North Sea and Atlantic margin are known hydrocarbon-bearing sedimentary basins. Our business is finding and producing these resources to secure future energy demands.

Risk and reward

Exploring for hydrocarbons is one of ENGIE E&P in the UK’s areas of expertise. Our teams of experts have found the natural gas equivalent of 170 million barrels of oil around the British Isles since 2001, drilling 26 exploration wells and 12 additional appraisal wells. It is an area in which our collective commitment to quality has yielded significant results: our exploration and appraisal wells have had a commercial success rate of 50%.

Finding gas and oil is a scientific and technical challenge – but it is also a feat of risk assessment and management. Exploration requires the investment of considerable resources against an uncertain return – the overall industry success rate of exploration wells in the North Sea is around 25%. Our experts must constantly balance the potential rewards of finding valuable hydrocarbons against the risk of expensive failure. One of the ways we balance this risk is by spreading our exploration effort between areas which offer varying returns and degrees of uncertainty.

We are committed to operating in the North Sea, and operate in three core areas around the UK – the Southern North Sea (SNS), Central North Sea (CNS), and West of Shetlands (WOS). The SNS and CNS are relatively mature areas, whereas the WOS is a frontier province. We believe all three areas offer exciting possibilities.

All our licences and blocks of interest are detailed on our Operations map.

The exploration process

Exploration process diagram

Wherever we explore, the process always starts with the identification of promising areas through modelling and analysis by our team of subsurface specialists. They look for reservoirs of hydrocarbons which have been trapped by a non-porous rock seal in sedimentary rocks like sandstone or chalk. If these areas conform to our corporate strategy, and offer suitable potential reward, we will attempt to acquire the rights to explore them from the UK Government.

If further, detailed analysis suggests a high probability of exploitable gas or oil reserves, exploratory wells are drilled – which will reveal whether we have found a commercially viable reserve where development for production can begin.