Flexible and consistent: Software considerations for the energy transition 

Carbon capture and storage will play a key role in achieving the UK’s target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, with the government’s Net Zero Strategy setting out a need to capture and store 20-30 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year by 2030.  

Up until 2023, only a handful of licenses have been issued by the UK regulator, North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), for the appraisal and storage of carbon dioxide. However, that is set to change once the NSTA announce the outcome of its first carbon storage licensing round. The round, which comprises of 13 new areas off the coasts of Aberdeen, Teesside, Liverpool and Lincolnshire, received 26 bids for 19 operators.  

Envisaged as the first of several rounds, up to 100 carbon dioxide stores could be required by 2050, creating a significant need for operators to have the capabilities to assess each storage site. Not only will operators need to make their own financial, technical and geological assessments, the NSTA’s application also requires a sound overview of the input and output parameters, subsurface risks and legacy wells associated with the proposed site.  

Carbon capture and storage is not the only subsurface technology that could make a significant contribution to the UK’s journey to net zero. Geothermal energy – which is available throughout the UK at depths from a few metres to several kilometres – could provide heat and power all year round. Many European countries are actively supporting geothermal development. Germany, for example, has set a 10TWh target for geothermal output by 2030 and France has set a goal to save 100TWh of gas annually by using geothermal in the next 15-20 years.    

For many operators this will mean revitalising existing oil and gas well and basin data, mine and borehole data or other geological and hydrogeological studies, some of which could be several years, if not decades old, then carefully identifying and filling in the gaps to produce accurate site containment and risk assessment studies. With the potential need to assess hundreds of wells per project, this a huge undertaking with masses of data from disparate sources to collate and comb through.  

Digital transformation and the energy transition 

High-quality geological data is universally recognised as a critical aspect of the oil and gas industry’s operational requirements however, many operators continue to rely heavily on cumbersome methods of manual data input, file sharing and analysis performed in Excel. This may be bearable for more profitable oil and gas operations, but for nascent new energy industries, which must justify spending every step of the way, accuracy and confidence from the outset will play a key role in success. With the energy industry’s digital transformation gaining pace, there has never been a better time for energy operators to adopt software that will seamlessly meet their existing geological data needs, while supporting their energy transition journey of tomorrow.  

To that end, several subsurface technology solutions providers are beginning to reconfigure their software offer to facilitate the appraisal and monitoring of new energy opportunities including CCS, nuclear waste, geothermal, hydrogen and lithium. There are several features to look out for when considering which software package is most suitable to support ventures into new energy, but two are key: a single source of truth and the ability to leverage existing tools to fit your needs. These underlying technology tenets will provide consistency, flexibility and efficiency every time.  

  1. Creating consistency with a single source of truth 

A single source of truth (SSOT) is the philosophy of collecting data from across a business and/or industry and aggregating it into a central, real-time repository. 

Reliability, consistency and improved decision making are some of the many benefits that CCS operators gain when they opt for a software package that operates on a SSOT philosophy.  

Establishing a single, centralised repository for all CCS data collection, storage and analysis eradicates the duplication of both data and effort, and eliminates the potential for data entry error, corruption and loss. Real time updates ensure the entire CCS project team is operating from the most recent logs and analysis, creating further time savings and reducing the risk of misinformation and rework.  

Creating a single repository for all relevant CCS project data will optimise the process of assessing a site’s viability. Consistency facilitates the comparison of site characteristics, while also highlighting any areas where data may be lacking. During operation it creates a time saving by reducing the effort required to analyse data and create/QC logs, charts, and reports throughout the entire project lifecycle. These datapoints can be aggregated together to establish trends and create a bank of industry knowledge about CCS projects. Further, AI and machine learning can mine historic data kept within the repository to train algorithms and models to improve current and future project outcomes.  

Altogether, these features lead to improved decision-making and productivity for new energy operators.  

  1. Gaining flexibility and efficiency through an adaptable, open platform 

An open API is an application programming interface that allows operators to adapt and integrate software to create a platform that suits their unique business needs.  

In the case of CCS operators, the key benefit of selecting software with an open API is the ability to seamlessly integrate existing tools, systems and datasets. This feature is particularly useful for those operators with existing subsurface operations who will be able to adapt their current set up to integrate corporate datasets, standards, templates, reporting processes etc.  

Not only does an open API provide operators with flexibility and scalability allowing them to add functionality and features as the project progresses, it also reduces the initial software investment required by reducing the need to build a specialist software solution from scratch. An open API can also improve communication and transparency between users in different departments – from subsurface and planning to cost control, improving the efficiency of workflows and information sharing. 

Additional, opting for a software solution with an open API will typically futureproof that investment by allowing the latest advancements in technology to be easily integrated as they are released.   

GravitasEDGE a tool for the energy transition 

HRH Geology’s industry-leading software application GravitasEDGE is a powerful, flexible, interactive toolbox that aids analytical decision-making throughout the entire lifecycle of a project. From log visualization and analysis, well correlation, pore pressure monitoring to daily and end of project reporting, GravitasEDGE includes charts, logs and reports which can be easily adapted to manage operations.  

Based on the philosophy of entering data once and using it many times, it creates a single data source to optimise the development of oil and gas and new energy projects such as geothermal and carbon capture and storage as an example. It facilitates an open integrated data platform leveraged through its open API, allowing operators to integrate all existing systems and tools and exploit historic datasets and capabilities.  

Engineered with the latest technology, users have access to a rich operations geology toolset to manage the geological workflow and seamlessly integrate with other disciplines such as drilling and asset geoscience. It is one of the only visual software solutions that can support multiple project types in one platform and offers a simple traffic light system to highlight opportunities and risks.  

Leveraging the cloud, GravitasEDGE’s DataBridge enables seamless, real time, collaborative, data-driven workflows between any number of proprietary, corporate and custom applications, and its users, regardless of their location or device type. This overcomes the intermittent communications and disconnected operations which so often mires the efficiency of teams working in remote areas.  

Loaded with easily readable and repeatable templates and visualisations for every-day functionality, GravitasEDGE features a selection of proprietary applications including log drawing, interpretation and visualisation, pressure profile calculation and dynamic correlation charts. It can also be integrated to support technology developments such as OSDU intelligence and machine learning.