PRESS RELEASE 3rd December 2009 British Geological Survey to move rock collections to Nottingham The British Geological Survey (BGS) has been the custodian of the UK Continental Shelf core and records collections at Gilmerton (Edinburgh) for a number of years on behalf of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and predecessor departments. Under a Memorandum of Understanding with DECC the BGS provides access to the collections for the oil and gas industry and academic community in the UK and abroad. The dual-purpose Loanhead (Edinburgh) facility is used for the storage of UK shallow marine cores, records and magnetic tapes (not used by the oil and gas industry), and also houses BGS’s marine operations facilities. The British Geological Survey announced its decision to close the Gilmerton core store in a press release dated August 25th 2009. The decision to close the Loanhead facility was announced to BGS staff on October 14th 2009. BGS will re-locate the Gilmerton collections, and some of the Loanhead collections, to a new purpose-built facility at Keyworth, which will be an extension to the existing National Geoscience Data Centre store. The re-location process is expected to begin in mid-2010. There will be ample storage capacity in this new facility for strategically important cores from all sources (not just oil and gas industry cores) that may be deposited with the BGS during the next 10-20 years. Additional confidential core viewing laboratories will be fitted out to augment the existing Keyworth facilities, providing for the needs of industry users and for universities in support of petroleum geoscience education and training. The collections will be in a modern, purpose-built, secure environment at Keyworth, there will be access to the full range of analytical and other facilities available at this site, and mechanised handling facilities will greatly reduce current health and safety concerns. All BGS marine geoscience activities currently based at Loanhead will continue, and options for relocating these facilities to another site are currently being considered. Closure of the Gilmerton and Loanhead sites will produce annual operational cost savings of £208,000, and it is expected that approximately £1 Million will be generated by the sale of the Loanhead site. Background BGS’s collections of geological cores, data, samples and records are currently spread over forty-one separate locations at seven sites across the UK, three in England (Keyworth, Wallingford and Hartland) and four in Scotland (Murchison House, Gilmerton, Loanhead and Eskdalemuir). The large number of sites and locations incurs high operational costs, and some are unfit for purpose. Loanhead was described by The National Archives in 2006 as ‘completely unsuitable for both records and specimen storage on anything other than a very temporary basis’. BGS first announced its proposal to consider rationalisation of its core stores in its five year strategy document published March 2009 after a public consultation process. In late 2008 the BGS instructed independent consultants (Tribal Group) to undertake a review of all its information management facilities, to identify the limitations of the current configurations and propose alternatives including cost savings. The review involved a consultation phase during which the opinions of a range of users were solicited, including representatives of Oil & Gas UK, Committee of the Heads of UK University Geoscience Departments, the Geological Society, The National Archives, The Coal Authority, Ground Forum, Collections Advisory Committee etc. Stakeholders were asked specifically to comment on a number of new possible storage options including re-locating parts of the collections to the BGS head office site at Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, and re- locating parts of the collections into commercial storage. While stakeholders recognised the potential benefits of consolidation of collections at Keyworth, some concerns were expressed that such a move would put further distance between the UK Continental Shelf collections held at Gilmerton and oil and gas industry users. In order to better understand the situation the consultants looked at the geographical distribution of the Gilmerton user community. Analysis of user addresses (both commercial and academic) over the past two years shows that 25% of visits were made by users based in Scotland and that the remaining 75% had to travel from various parts of England, Wales, Ireland and further afield including North America. The report of the Tribal Group review is available at www.bgs.ac.uk . The report recommends the best option for consolidation of the BGS collections is a single UK core repository located on the BGS site at Keyworth, Nottinghamshire. This option offers a range of benefits including a modern, purpose-built and secure environment, access to the full range of analytical and other facilities available at this site, and improved handling facilities to reduce current health and safety concerns. Concerns have been raised regarding potential damage and loss of integrity of the Gilmerton cores during transportation. BGS understands the need to allay these concerns and is engaging in a dialogue with user groups to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken during transportation. A full analysis will be carried out to identify and mitigate potential risks. BGS has also offered to open a dialogue with concerned academic users to explore the provision of access to alternative core collections specifically to support teaching. The extension to the existing facilities at Keyworth has been made possible due to a major injection of capital funding for the Keyworth site from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. BGS and its parent body the Natural Environment Research Council are acutely aware that the best possible science and service must be delivered to stakeholders, as efficiently and effectively as possible. BGS believes that the proposed consolidation of the Gilmerton collections at Keyworth is the best way forward towards guaranteeing the future accessibility of these unique collections, in perpetuity, for the benefit of industry and academia alike. *Ends* For further details or to arrange media interviews please contact: Clive Mitchell BGS Press Office, Keyworth, Nottingham email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. + 44 (0)115 936 3257 Notes for Editors The British Geological Survey The British Geological Survey (BGS), a component body of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), is the nation's principal supplier of objective, impartial and up-to-date geological expertise and information for decision making for governmental, commercial and individual users. The BGS maintains and develops the nation's understanding of its geology to improve policy making, enhance national wealth and reduce risk. It also collaborates with the national and international scientific community in carrying out research in strategic areas, including energy and natural resources, our vulnerability to environmental change and hazards, and our general knowledge of the Earth system. More about the BGS can be found at www.bgs.ac.uk.