OGA launches data resource to make North Sea ‘world leader’

The National Data Repository holds a wealth of information aimed at bringing in fresh exploration. Pic: The Bruce field has recently changed hands from BP to Serica Energy
The National Data Repository holds a wealth of information aimed at bringing in fresh exploration. Pic: The Bruce field has recently changed hands from BP to Serica Energy

A new resource has been launched to help usher in a new era of North Sea oil and gas exploration.

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has launched the National Data Repository (NDR), a free online platform placing the UK sector as a “world leader” on subsurface petroleum information.

Its launch is thought to be one of the largest ever single releases of data, comprising 130 terabytes of information on wells, fields and pipelines – the equivalent of eight years’ worth of HD movies.

The information is being made freely available in the hopes of attracting new investment into the North Sea, helping recover the 20billion barrels of oil estimated to be remaining in the region.

Launched by the OGA, the repository will be managed by Common Data Access, a subsidiary of trade body Oil and Gas UK, who said it puts the region top of the world rankings on low-cost access to oil and gas information.

The OGA, the industry regulator, said the NDR is an opportunity for firms to use historical data to inform artificial intelligence technology and uncover previously overlooked oil and gas prospects.

It also ensures that the UK’s petroleum-related information is maintained and enhanced in a sustainable collection.

The NDR is funded through taxes paid by all petroleum licence holders in the North Sea.

Nic Granger, director of Corporate at the OGA, said: “The world is arguably entering a ‘fourth industrial revolution’, with data at its heart.

“The National Data Repository is a UK first and is an important milestone in our vision to enable open, transparent data.

“The platform makes data available for machine learning and artificial intelligence and offers the opportunity to uncover new prospects and previously overlooked plays.”

The NDR logo

The NDR will also be used to aid the energy transition, with information on potential carbon capture, utilisation and storage projects (CCUS), for example.

CCUS is a means of storing carbon emissions underground, or in this case the North Sea.

Energy  and clean growth minister Claire Perry said: “The National Data Repository will help position the sector at the front of the data revolution and enable industry to unlock the full potential of the UK Continental Shelf, delivering further energy security, tax revenues and the high paid jobs that are at the centre of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

The NDR’s launch has been hailed by energy “supermajors” Chevron and BP.

Ariel Flores, BP’s North Sea regional president, believes it could bring a “step change” to oil recovery in the UK sector.

He said: “Sharing data and information to build knowledge across the basin is key to maximising economic recovery from the UK.

“BP welcomes the launch of the NDR and, through active cooperation with the OGA and our industry colleagues, looks forward to fully realising the value that open data access can bring to the UKCS.”

Meanwhile, Greta Lydecker, managing director of Chevron Upstream Europe, said it could help attract the next generation of workers to the sector.

The NDR also offers opportunities for academics researching the subsurface of the North Sea.

John Underhil, chief scientist and chairman of exploration geoscience at Heriot-Watt University said: “The OGA’s efforts in releasing and providing public access to data via the new National Data Repository will be a game-changer for academics undertaking subsurface research that benefits geoscience in general and the wider academic community.”

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