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Chevron and PIDX plan for GHG standards

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Oil and gas digital business association PIDX is planning to develop standards for greenhouse gas emissions, under the leadership of Chevron's head of digital transformation strategy.

PIDX, an association for digital business standards in oil and gas, is planning to develop data standards for greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas production.

The project is being led within PIDX by Chevron's global head of digital transformation strategy, Sebastian Gass, and has the support of the full board of PIDX. This includes Andrew Mercer, who leads low carbon and sustainability within the information technology and digital teams at BP, Shawn Green, R2P [request to pay] Project Implementation Manager, Lower 48 at ConocoPhillips, and Amit Sethi, global digital customer experience leader at BHGE.

Or to describe Mr Gass' title and role in full, he is the general manager of the Technology, Strategy and Services division within Chevron's IT Company (ITC). He is responsible for Chevron's Digital Transformation Strategy, Data Science, Enterprise Architecture, Project Management, Operational Excellence, Supplier Management, Services Definition and Business Planning groups.

The challenge, as Mr Gass describes it, is that gathering emissions data for internal and external reporting is becoming a major administrative and data management challenge, involving much tedious and time consuming manual work.

Each business unit in Chevron has a multitude of agencies they are required to report to, including local, state and national, as well as internal reporting, he says. The data is required to be submitted in a variety of formats and submission modes. 'Some agencies may ask for a spreadsheet, some ask for PDF files. Some bigger and more sophisticated agencies have web based forms.'

Chevron has to collect the data from the various operations and laboratory systems which each business unit uses. The data must be gathered locally, assimilated, and prepared for reporting.

Mr Gass envisages a standard digital process for gathering and sharing emission data. This would enable the process to be more automated, and also to better support analytics on the data, which may identify ways to make better decisions on how to produce oil and gas with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

'The value proposition was transparency, not just within the company but externally,' he said.

Companies currently publish a range of 'energy intensity' measures in their annual reports. 'They are all over the place - there is no standard,' he said. 'You can't compare apples to apples - on who is more energy intense and efficient. It is incredibly error prone.'

For example, some people issue numbers about how much CO2 is released by people watching Netflix. 'Do you believe it? I don't know. There are lots of different studies, government bodies, academic bodies that have a point of view.'

'We have a unique opportunity as PIDX to bring clarity into this space, to really influence and more importantly shape the dialogue around energy transition and emissions.

Within Chevron

Mr Gass says that Chevron increasingly sees 'energy transition' as core business, rather than something separate. 'The energy transition is a major topic within Chevron, a major initiative,' he says.

'Whether you see it as OPEX reduction, power management, ESG, the way we position ourselves, it is all really within one topic.'

Chevron has its own projects to try to find better ways to manage emission data and to see what it can do with the data.

For data gathering, it is starting with two projects - the Gorgon natural gas plant in Australia (which is also a large scale carbon capture and storage project), and the El Segundo refinery in Los Angeles. 'We're working with them to try to improve their current process of recording emissions,' he said.

In both sites, it wants to find ways to streamline the data collection and 'curation' process, to make data better available on a daily basis, so it can be incorporated into production meetings, supporting 'process change' decisions.

It is seeking to develop an architecture to automate the collection and curation of data, including adding in trusted external data.

It uses a greenhouse gas emission reporting and analysis software from Sphera.

Separately, Chevron has a project called 'Lighthouse' to 'use both internal and trusted external emissions data to better inform Chevron's operational and business decisions'.

The goal of the projects are to meet regulatory reporting requirements, and provide real time views of data through a Power BI dashboard, enabling the fine tuning of operations.

It should also be able to support prediction of greenhouse gas emissions for the future, and fill in gaps in emission data with other data sources, perhaps from space.

Finally, Chevron wants to be able to reduce the cost of compliance, he said.

But this is not just a reporting scheme - Mr Gass is keen to look at the whole data architecture around it, and perhaps find ways to apply data science and AI.

Chevron has a team of data scientists and data engineers, working with partners at IBM and Microsoft, to explore ways that data science and AI can 'help Chevron improve environment performance,' Mr Helin said.

The ultimate goal is to make 'every business and operational decision hat Chevron makes to be informed by the environmental impact.'

It could be centralised, bringing all data into a single place, and then shared widely around the company.

'If we have centralised and commonly hosted emission data that we can share, Chevron can make better decisions,' said Franz Helin, IT Project Manager at Chevron.

Chevron wants its staff to be as aware as possible about the environmental impact of their decisions, he says. The environmental impact of a project or purchase would be considered alongside the usual factors of cost, safety, and oil and gas production.

People may then find ways to optimise decision making taking into account where the environmental impact would be reduced.

The data might also be shared with the petroleum industry's customers.

PIDX standard proposal

The proposal for PIDX is that it develops standards for data exchange related to carbon emissions, and any other needs related to the 'energy transition.'

At PIDX, where Mr Gass sits on the board, there have already been 'several board discussions and strategy meetings [looking at] what is the next generation, the next natural evolution for PIDX,' he says.

The proposal is that it would leverage the PIDX 'framework' to develop clear data standards and understand data exchange needs, covering suppliers, operators and networks.

PIDX would create a forum which would review how the data can be better collected and reported, and develop standards.

The system would improve clarity about the energy standards for different parts of the world. The reporting would be more transparent. There would be better alignment between operators and suppliers about what data is needed.

Chevron has appointed Franz Helin, IT Project Manager at Chevron, to 'help with the energy transition working group within PIDX, drive that forward, bring in whatever we can bring from Chevron.'

Stephanie Waters, president of PIDX, who also serves as Procurement/Supply Chain Enablement Manager at Chevron, said that the initiative came out of a PIDX 'Innovation Day' held in February this year, where there was discussion about how PIDX should fit with the energy transition, and other ways PIDX should move forward.

PIDX could also define data models and definitions, and support technical integrations.

The development process could follow agile methodology, looking to develop a 'minimum viable product' by August 2020, Ms Waters said.

The project team will have a remit to review other reporting schemes developed for CO2, and see how the PIDX project would fit with that. 'Obviously we don't want to have a competing standard, or a different standard - that would not make a lot of sense,' Mr Gass said.

'The OGCI standards are definitely something we need to take a look at. There's plenty of other standard bodies out there.'

'But most of these are on the reporting side, templates and formats and things of that nature. Our focus should be more on the data integration side. Very few of them, as far as I know, are down to the level of how do you integrate systems.'

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