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Energy, Climate change, Environment

Coordinating data collection on offshore exploration and extraction of oil and gas

Petroleum companies have complete information on their own offshore installations and authorities responsible for licensing them know what is in their own waters. But until recently, there has been no complete inventory of installations for any of Europe’s sea basins.

The EMODnet human activities team therefore undertook a major effort to develop a digital map of boreholes, licences and offshore structure and classify them according to their operator, their purpose (exploration, exploitation) and their status (active, abandoned) and (where known) the type of hydrocarbon. This involved contacting the competent authorities, cross-checking data and translating national or corporate descriptions into a common set of attributes and geographical coordinates.

This has become a reference dataset that is now used by representatives of the industry themselves, by a group analysing options for spatial planning in the Celtic Sea and on any analysis requiring knowledge of what is happening in areas including waters of different national jurisdiction – for spatial planning, for environmental impact assessments and for emergency management.

The team recount the challenges of collecting, processing and distributing these data in a blog