Southern Permian Basin Atlas Unveiled

More than five years in the making, the recently published Southern Permian Basin Atlas is an excellent example of international co-operation and promises to prove of invaluable help to companies exploring for hydrocarbons in Europe.
This article appeared in Vol. 7, No. 4 - 2010


Some of the many participants in the Southern Permian Basin Atlas Project (left to right) Graham Lott (BGS, country co-ordinator UK) Kenneth Glennie (retired, initiator Project) Alan Stevenson (BGS, Chief-editor Project) Hans Doornenbal (TNO, Project Manager and Editor Atlas) Youri Poslawsky (GdFSUEZ, Steering Committee member) Gerhard Bachmann (Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg, Principal Author Triassic Chapter) Photo: Jane Whaley

Southern Permian Basin Atlas

The Southern Permian Basin has already produced about 177 Tcf (5 Tcm) of gas and 4,600 MMbo (730 MMcm) oil, but is thought to hold considerable undiscovered volumes, so the publication in August this year of the innovative Southern Permian Basin Atlas should prove very timely. Following on from the major success of the Millennium Atlas, it is the product of collaboration between the Geological Surveys of the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Poland, together with a number of other organisations. According to Hans Doornenbal, who managed the project, the Atlas summarises 150 years of petroleum exploration and research in the basin, and aims to stimulate further interest in the area from petroleum companies.

The Southern Permian Basin, also known as the Central European Basin, is Europe’s largest sedimentary basin. It is a typical intracontinental basin which evolved from Late Carboniferous to Recent times, and extends from eastern England to the Belarussian-Polish border and from Denmark to Southern Germany. The majority of the gasfields have been sourced from the gas prone Upper Carboniferous Westphalian coal measures and, in the western part of the basin at least, the oil-prone Lower Jurassic Posidonia Shale. There is also thought to be considerable potential for shallow gas, especially in the North Sea. More than 1,240 hydrocarbon fields have been discovered so far in the SPBA area, including the largest gas field in Europe, the 51 year old Groningen field.

The data for the Atlas has come from a variety of sources, in addition to the national institutions. These include sponsoring oil companies, data providers such as IHS, seismic contractors, research institutions and universities. Each chapter is written by expert authors, 145 in all, assisted by 35 cartographers, who produced the many geological and play maps, cross sections and field examples. As well as detailing the geological and tectonic evolution and hydrocarbon potential of each stratigraphic interval, the Atlas includes sections on applied geology, CO2 storage, the history of exploration and licensing, and resource assessments.

Varied data sources

Overview of petroleum provinces related to Paleozoic source rocks. Image: Southern Permian Atlas Basin The Southern Permian Basin Atlas, published by the EAGE, is available in printed A2 and in pdf format, containing nearly 1000 illustrations, including many maps (ordering information: Unlike the Millennium Atlas, however, this project was principally designed from the beginning to be a GIS-based product. All 150 GIS maps, together with the SPBA Project database containing a huge range of attributes, including topography, geological boundaries, well and seismic data, oil and gas field attributes, geochemical and gas composition data, are available on a separate DVD (ordering information: [email protected])

The Southern Permian Basin Atlas is a major achievement and will undoubtedly be a vital resource to geoscientists, explorationists and researchers for many years to come.


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