BGR Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe

Frontier studies on marine energy resources

Geoscientific frontier research aims to provide geological information to assess the resource potential of frontier regions and the consequences of resource exploitation. These studies are carried out way ahead of any potential commercial activities. Marine petroleum reservoirs are mostly expected along continental margins, i.e. along the oceans borders. The exact location and the size of these potential energy resources is controversially discussed, as well as the ecological impact of their production.

Research on the evolution of continental margins is a crucial tool to assess the future availability of petroleum resources from offshore reservoirs. BGR’s research on marine continental margins has a tradition of more than forty years. The worldwide-located study areas are depicted in this map.

BGRs’ research focuses on passive continental margins which are the result of continental breakup and the formation of new oceanic crust in between. Along the continents, e.g. between South America and Africa, the oceanic crust is firmly welded to the continent and almost no horizontal movements occur anymore. This explains their name ‘passive margin’. Such margins border most of the Atlantic, large parts of the Indian Ocean and the Arctic Ocean, the continental margins of Antarctica and Australia and smaller marginal seas.

Sedimentation along these passive margins usually is an ongoing process, thus forming kilometer thick sediment piles where petroleum can be generated, if specific conditions are met. Because of this BGR studies passive continental margins with geophysical and geological methods and cooperates in scientific drilling campaigns of the IODP (International Ocean Discovery Program) to decipher the depositional conditions of the sediments.

In recent years, BGR’s focus of study is on the passive continental margins of the North Atlantic (PANORAMA project).

BGR also contributes with its expertise to the law of the sea which falls within the jurisdiction of the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

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