Unlocking Energy Transition via Information and Data Management

Following on from Sword’s deep-dive into unlocking digitalisation value via our top 10 information and data management themes in Oil and Gas, Neale Stidolph, Head of Information Management & Energy Transition Lead, revisits these themes to consider the implications of Energy Transition. 

Energy Transition is picking up speed and there are major investments being made, in a new landscape of operating companies, suppliers, regulators and many intersections and crossovers with the current Oil & Gas sector. There is an opportunity to take advantage of information and data for better business performance, and avoid delays, cost overruns, regulatory impact and to make best use of existing skills.

Digitalisation needs data, needs data management

There are new streams of data from sensors and applications, with a need to closely monitor greenhouse gas emissions. New collaborations are emerging, for example the Seagreen windfarm project. Connecting companies from different sectors is greatly helped by making information and data readily available and in a form that all parties can trust and know how to use.

Asset transfers and the crucial role of data

Just as decommissioning is a crucial factor when taking on an existing production asset, so is the status and trending of emissions. Plans can then be made for Energy Transition such as electrification through floating wind, wave systems or connecting into emerging renewable energy hubs. Good data will help make the case to the regulator when taking on additional assets.

Governance is making a comeback

Emissions goals are being set at increasing levels of detail, and this needs to be easily rolled up to see company performance all the way up to national emissions levels. Legislation is defining the macro targets and changes to carbon taxation are likely, as the UK is below other levels such as CO2 tax in Norway. Good data on CO2 output and trends at a granular level will help plan what can be captured and stored. The Oil & Gas Climate Initiative has a new CO2 storage resource catalogue that shows locations and potential capacity.

Stuck at the ‘proof of concept’ (PoC) chasm

As Energy Transition is in flux people are working on many aspects, however joining that up more collaboratively across the industry would help save time and money. Work on emissions dashboards and reporting is something that suits a group initiative. Currently offshore wind seems to be very much about individual projects, all tied back to shore. The emerging strategy is about a grander plan that would form regional offshore hubs and international connectors, as a backbone for enabling many more projects to move ahead. It seems similar in terms of information and data, as a clearer framework that helps everyone from suppliers to regulators makes life simpler. This approach has been applied successfully by the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) and the National Data Repository (NDR), the new version of which is likely to include Energy Transition considerations next year.

Dropping down the digitalisation hype curve

Yes, there’s still lots of digitalisation hype around. The Energy Transition twist is that folk seem to be more open as it is new and less familiar. The questions are familiar enough. Companies need to know where they stand, see how they’re trending, make plans and monitor their effectiveness – which are all information and data driven. Hype is reduced if there are good sets of requirements emerging which people can get involved with and adopt. That’s how the Oil & Gas UK IM Forum is proceeding, to assess the current state, gather views and see what the OGTC, OGA and trade organisations in renewables are doing. There are dozens of trade groups which makes the landscape complex, hence best to navigate that intelligently via a group like the IM Forum. That will help avoid duplicated effort or ideological conflict. It looks like this work will link up well with the Open Subsurface Data Universe (OSDU) and their emerging New Energy charter.

Oil & Gas core business: hydrocarbons or tech?

In our last article we spoke about core Oil & Gas activities such as exploration and production and how that can be at odds with an entrepreneurial start-up IT approach to digitalisation. Those forces are still very much in play, but Energy Transition brings new angles to consider. Operators may choose to buy-in renewable power for offshore facility electrification, but some may acquire more capabilities of their own. How hands-on Operators decide to be is going to be interesting, to see how they will adapt.

Net Zero sentiment and “oil shaming”

The last few months have brought multiple impacts of the pandemic, oil demand collapse and resulting fall in Oil & Gas prices. Many conference calls and webinars have looked at the likely impact, will this hit the Energy Transition pause button? Will investors rush away from Oil & Gas? It seems not. That’s not to say it will be easy or that there will be winners and losers. The industry is necessary and contributes to cleaner energy through gas and hydrogen, and can capture and store huge amounts of CO2. This helps tremendously, accelerating plans by making best use of existing facilities. The new skills needed for Energy Transition could offset many potential job losses. This creates a more positive feel that will actually get things done.

The search for talent

Some skills will adapt, such as subsurface specialists working on reservoir suitability and long-term management for CO2 storage. New types of equipment will need to be designed, deployed, monitored and maintained, making best use of existing skills in those areas. We recently presented to the Society of Petroleum Data Managers on this topic, to help raise awareness so that people can consider how they can enhance their skills.

Collaboration is key

Having mentioned the OGA’s NDR it is also worth adding the changes going on in the ΩSDU, and their ‘New Energy Charter’ under development. Ensuring that these, along with data transfers standards all fit nicely together would be great. Best not to rush forward without taking a moment to see what is out there and how it is changing.

Innovation

Many companies are involved in amazing projects such as Acorn, Northern Lights, and PosHYdon. It’s an exciting time to see the practical progress towards clean energy, see how our working lives are changing too, reducing dependence on travelling for work. We’re fortunate that smarter ways to work with information and data were put in place so that many people are now not dependent on being in offices. This digital revolution will play a key part in bringing about Energy Transition.

Read part 1 and part 2 of this article on EnergyVoice or read more about Sword’s data and information management solutions here.

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