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Department of Earth Sciences


Energy supply research shortlisted for NERC 2018 Impact Award

(5 November 2018)

Durham University research, which has helped open up potential new petroleum reserves to be used as part of the UK energy mix, has been shortlisted for a national impact award.

Professors Bob Holdsworth and Ken McCaffrey, Department of Earth Sciences, noticed unexplained mineral and sediment fills in geological cores taken many years ago off the west coast of Shetland.

Professor Holdsworth’s curiosity about the nature and origins of these fills helped lead to the discovery of economic petroleum deposits stored in fractures in crystalline bedrock under the sea.

Bob Holdsworth

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New reserves

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funding facilitated Professor Holdsworth’s work with industry to research estimate the origins and size of these resources, as well as the creation of a spin-out company, opening-up the potential for new reserves to be used as part of the UK energy mix.

The research was funded by NERC between 1998 and 2009, with a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship funded for Professor Holdsworth until 2012.

His research has led to him being shortlisted in NERC's 2018 Impact Awards.

Security of supply

Professor Holdsworth said: “We need to move towards more sustainable energy sources as quickly as possible, but in the meantime we need to ensure that we provide security of energy supply as part of a broader energy mix.

“Our research could help the UK to control its own energy reserves as we ultimately work towards a cleaner, sustainable and more environmentally friendly future.

“I am extremely pleased to have been shortlisted for this NERC impact award as a result of this work.”

Celebrating scientists

The NERC 2018 Impact Awards will be judged by independent panels of esteemed academic, industry and government figures, and celebrate NERC-funded scientists, as individuals or teams, whose work has had a big impact on the economy or society in the UK or internationally.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Natural History Museum on Monday 3 December 2018.

For more information about the NERC 2018 Impact Awards please click here.