Oil and gas currently provides 75% of the UK’s primary energy source. Over the last five decades no other industrial sector has created more prosperity for the UK (source: UK oil and gas industrial sector strategy).
The UK has high levels of scientific and industrial capability in relation to oil and gas, reflecting the legacy of North Sea development. NERC is committed to working with the academic research base, business, policymakers and the third sector to ensure its investments in research, skills and technologies in oil and gas are translated for their maximum economic and societal impact.
This innovation programme operates according to the following general principles:
- industry led – programme members define the challenges that need to be addressed through innovation projects
- openness – innovation grants will be awarded in open competition and access to project outcomes will be open to programme members
- translation focused – innovation projects must translate existing research into outputs that meet the needs of programme members
- impact driven – this programme will be consistently focused on benefiting society, the economy and the environment.
Cross-cutting innovation themes
Acknowledging the challenges above, this innovation programme focused on the following cross-cutting innovation themes:
Innovative monitoring approaches
This theme recognises the need for consistent, cost effective data collection and regulated and agreed monitoring protocols covering techniques and time periods to establish baselines (or proxies for these) and for monitoring of prospective, operational and decommissioned sites.
Data management, sharing and collaboration
Aside from the issues of consistent data collection, this theme recognises the need for sharing of data between interested parties and related issues around acquisition, creation, accessibility and management of big data sets. It also recognises that the environment is shared by a wide variety of users, all of whom potentially impact the environment to a greater or lesser extent, and the need to share data and lessons learned and consider cumulative impact and potential trade-offs.
This theme runs throughout the programme. Reducing the environmental impact of oil and gas extraction is a key priority for the sector. Improvements in the scientific understanding and technology used during hydrocarbon resource extraction will result in lower levels of environmental impact and will directly influence UK oil and gas industry regulations.