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Creating a cross-sector data strategy for offshore energy

Comment by Ben Leland

Senior Consultant - Digital and Data

The offshore sector has a significant role to play in UK Government’s plans to operate a net zero system across all sectors by 2050 and arguably this contains both more significant challenges and opportunities than its ‘onshore’ counterpart. The transition spans the vast potential of offshore wind developments, the emerging technologies of wave, tidal, Hydrogen and CCUS and of course, the transitioning of established oil and gas production activities. All of these must be managed carefully to maximise potential benefits whilst minimising the environmental and ecological impacts. 

To realise these opportunities, it is vital the energy system undergoes significant and wide-reaching digitalisation, only by utilising the potential of digital technologies can the challenges of the transition be achieved. 

The Offshore Energy Digital and Data Strategy Taskforce (Offshore Data Taskforce) is engaging actors across the sector to identify common digital and data challenges and outline the initiatives required to address them. Considering the sector as a whole and coordinating a single digitalisation strategy will create efficiencies through better utilisation of people, assets, and expertise. 

With the Wind Sector Deal and North Sea Transition Deal outlining the high-level strategy and commitment to a fair and ambitious transition of the sector, it is vital that the enabling data and digital initiatives are aligned to provide maximum impact. 

The Challenges

At a high level, the challenges can be characterised as follows for each industry. For the offshore wind industry, accelerating expansion and harnessing the potential of automation and digitalisation will be key to scaling construction and operation. For oil and gas, efficiencies must be identified and realised across the asset lifecycle to achieve decarbonisation targets and large-scale coordination must be achieved to successfully electrify production operations. And finally, for the emerging markets and technologies of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), wave and tidal generation, data will underpin the activities that are required to demonstrate the viability of business models as the technology is developed and deployed. 

Given the vast differences in operational activities and maturity across the industry, it naturally follows that the range of goals is equally diverse. Despite this, it is still possible to identify common themes, opportunities, and solutions to the barriers of these targets. 

The availability of high quality, structured data is fundamental to almost all digitisation initiatives and is a well-established practice in both the oil & gas and renewables industry. The challenge now is to identify where the remaining high-value data resides and work with the sector to develop the proposals to utilise this data. 

Throughout the discovery phase of the project, it has become abundantly clear that there is significant and widespread activity in developing the data sharing portals and repositories that underpin planning, construction, and operation of offshore assets. Aligning these standalone portals around common metadata and visibility protocols will enable the industry to maximise the value of the underlying data management activities. 

It is here that understanding how to utilise and integrate with existing ‘onshore’ initiatives that are looking to address similar problems becomes very important. For example, the Modernising Energy Data Access programme, launched off the back of the Energy Data Taskforce (EDTF) recommendations, has addressed several aspects of this. The resulting Open Energy project is now leading development of solutions for data management in the sector, including metadata standards, aligning of licencing terms, and improved data visibility via a data catalogue. 

Data landscape map 

Also key to developing Offshore Data Taskforce recommendations is an understanding of the shape and context of data used throughout the offshore energy sector. The non-exhaustive diagram below outlines the significant breadth of data used throughout the lifecycle in both the oil & gas and offshore renewables industries. Mapping the high-level view of this data to a common life cycle process helps identify where data sharing, and collaboration efforts could be further developed. 

Figure 1: An outlines of data used throughout the lifecycle in both the oil & gas and offshore renewables industries

Figure 1: An outlines of data used throughout the lifecycle in both the oil & gas and offshore renewables industries

Workstreams 

Following a discovery phase and extensive stakeholder engagement across the sector, the initial sprint of work has focussed on three recommendations that were initially established by EDTF. Through industry events, workshops, and continued stakeholder engagement, we are gathering a wide range of views and expertise to test these recommendations, ensuring they are suitably mapped to the distinct offshore sector challenges. 

  • Maximising the Value of Data (Presumed Open) 

Organisations should embrace the adoption of the Presumed Open principle, whereby data owners are encouraging to start by considering data as open, then justify any restrictions that are required. The principle recognises that there are challenges and risk factors associated with this approach and outlines processes and techniques, such as the Open Data Triage process, to mitigate and document these restrictions. 

  • Visibility of Data 

Data should be stored in a catalogue with the appropriate data and metadata standards in place to make it searchable, accessible, and interpretable. 

  • Visibility of Infrastructure and Assets 

A unified Digital System Map of the offshore energy system should be established, to increase the visibility of the digital infrastructure and assets that interact in the offshore space, enable optimisation of investment, and decrease the risk of siloed workings. 

What now? 

A second industry event will be hosted in December which provides a further opportunity for any interested parties to engage with the Taskforce and provide feedback directly to the project team. These events are crucial for the Taskforce as they provide invaluable ideas and evidence for shaping the final recommendations. 

The project team will also engage and utilise the output from the ongoing Energy Digitalisation Taskforce (EDiT) that is running in parallel to this project. EDiT is looking at digitalisation more broadly across the energy sector and as such will produce recommendations and initiatives that should be incorporated into the outputs of the Offshore Data Taskforce. In line with mission statements of both projects, we will look to utilise all findings throughout to realise the goal of integrated whole system planning. 

Offshore Digital and Data Strategy Taskforce - Sector Test Event

Calendar

Tuesday 14th December 2021

Clock

9:30am - 12pm

Map Pin

Online - Zoom

Duration: 2.5hrs

Register now

Previous Events

20th October 2021 – Offshore Data Taskforce – Industry Event 1 slides.

 

27th September 2021 – Offshore Data Taskforce – Launch Event slides.

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