Interview: CASP beyond the Arctic
Even though it’s been around for the best part of 25 years, you could be forgiven for not being aware of what CASP stands for and what it does. Even if you knew that it is in fact the Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme based at the University of Cambridge, you would probably be wrong about the status and scope of the institution. Andrew McBarnet reports. The engagingly frank Dr Iain Bartholomew, new managing director and chief geologist, admits that he had never heard of CASP until he saw his current post advertised. Today, he is better informed and brimming with enthusiasm about the role CASP can play in the changing world of oil industry exploration and production. ‘What I recognize is that with all the merger activity and downsizing going on, oil companies have fewer and fewer people, but more and more assets which they’re trying to manage. The result is that true frontier-type basin study work is no longer being properly done. Companies just don’t have the staff or people with the experience.’ Which still doesn’t quite explain how CASP could fill the gap. To answer that question, a little history is required. CASP’s origins go back to the immediate post Second World War era when the venerable geologist Brian Holland of geological timescale renown was a lecturer in the Cambridge University Geology Department (now Earth Sciences). He was in the habit of taking geology PhD students to Spitzbergen. By the early 1960s Harland’s original Cambridge Svalbard Expedition began to attract funding from the oil industry as interest started to grow in hydrocarbons prospects in Northwest Europe.