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Data maturity of the UKCS

Monday, June 20, 2022

A survey of the data / digital maturity of companies in the UK Continental Shelf found that companies sit along a wide range. Dave Mackinnon of TLB discussed the results

The Technology Leadership Board (, a UK continental shelf focussed industry and government body that works together to develop technology in offshore oil and gas, led a 'Data and Digital Maturity Survey' in 2020, with participation of 73 companies in the offshore energy industry.

A number of organisations were involved in the study including industry body Oil and Gas UK, Opportunity North East (ONE), the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) and the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), said Dave Mackinnon, Technology & Innovation Manager, Technology Leadership Board.

The survey found that companies responding had a wide range of digital maturities, and there was no obvious pattern. Smaller companies were no more likely to be mature than larger ones.

61 per cent of companies "have a data management strategy,' but it can vary from just having an idea to an active participation - identifying digital roles, he said.

35 per cent of companies have dedicated digital skills training. The pandemic may have been a factor in driving this.

60 per cent of companies state they have a "digital strategy" although some were not able to put their finger on it and produce it.

'Not many were able to show the dividends at the far end of the digital process - what has been rolled out,' he said.

'Only about 7 per cent of technologies we listed were widely utilised.'

'We found that the transformation barriers were all in the organisation,' he said.

One barrier was a sense of digital deluge. An overwhelming number of technologies, methodologies, terminologies, trying to fight for space, he said.

For many organisations the biggest difficultly was keeping the focus on challenges, not [digital] solutions. And having governance of digital technology processes to ensure this happens, he said.

For people, 'there's a new language and skill set in play. Don't be intimidated by it. Ask the underlying questions. It's about running a business. Ask, 'how does this impact my business, how do I get value from it?' You should only fund technologies which provide business value.'

It is useful to have a process for generating ideas in the company. But so often, ideas only get to the proof-of-concept stage and are never scaled up.

Digital ecosystem

'When we think about data and digital, we often think of specific data solutions and analytic tools; an app, a wearable device, a remote visual inspection of an offshore operation.'

'Instead, we should be thinking about the entire ecosystem that brings all of these solutions together.'

Mr Mackinnon believes that the UK oil and gas sector is 'holding ourselves well' compared to the oil and gas industry in other parts of the world, but with some exceptions. 'There's more competency in robotics in Norway for example,' he said.

Mr McKinnon sees digital technologies in three segments - physical to digital (such as sensors, providing digital information about the physical world); purely digital (including integrating, analysing, visualising and augmenting data); and digital to physical (including robotics, and 3D visualisations and digital twins of the physical world, which are useful in managing the physical world).

Prioritising data

Data management is frequently misunderstood and definitely underinvested.
Without a coherent management strategy, everything falls apart,' he said.

'The biggest challenge that we see is how do you get value from data. Everyone typically thinks "data is just there - something on the W drive".

The need to put governance around it, which probably involves spending money on staff, 'is not as well understood as it could be,' he said.

'As we go further on the digital journey, we see the wrangling of ETL [extract / transfer / load] is taking a lot of time. Data is not in the right place, not of the right quality.'

'We've got to make it simple, and understandable.

'Everyone [needs to] understand that data is the foundation. Or you're spending more money than you need to.'

Associated Companies
» Oil and Gas Authority (OGA)
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