New app maps North Sea energy sites

Collaboration across energy organisations has enabled the production of an interactive map showing oil, gas, renewables and carbon capture sites in one place for the first time


  • Sian Morgan

16 February 2021

A new interactive mapping application that reveals the location of every energy-related site in the UK continental shelf is expected to benefit the search for carbon storage locations.

The app shows the proximity of existing oil and gas infrastructure to active and planned wind farms, electrical cables and carbon capture and storage (CCS) sites, which will help to gauge the potential for re-using when decommissioning assessments are being made.

It provides information that will be valuable in prioritising areas for seismic surveys – where a sound source, in accordance with environmental directives, is used to generate a reflective acoustic imagery of the subsurface geology – to test the suitability of the site before a wind farm is built.

The app helps users source potential locations for platform electrification and green hydrogen production. Gas-to-wire schemes – which involve using gas produced from gas fields to be generated into electricity offshore and then transmitted to shore via spare capacity with subsea cables used for windfarms – can also be more readily found.

The map stores data about the infrastructure that, combined with details of spatial locations, can support a wide variety of activities, such as cooperation in surveying sites, spatial planning, disaster response and and possible conflicting uses of areas or resources.

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has worked with the Crown Estate (TCE) and Crown Estate Scotland (CES) to develop the app, which lists more than 60 wind, wave and tidal sites that are active or now in construction on the continental shelf, as well as 489 petroleum licences and those recently awarded for CCS development.

Collaborating on energy

The mapping application automatically updates as each organisation logs new information. OGA director of corporate Nic Granger said: “This app will be a valuable tool for the energy industry, both today and in the coming years. It is a significant addition to the digital services we already offer through our data centre.”

Head of offshore assets at the Crown Estate Adrian Fox added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the OGA on this digital project, making it easier for customers to view vital data about existing offshore infrastructure, which will support the coordinated growth of the renewable energy sector.”

“This digital project makes it easier for customers to view vital data about existing offshore infrastructure, which will support the coordinated growth of the renewable energy sector”

Senior development manager at Crown Estate Scotland Sian Wilson concluded: “We are pleased that this information is now accessible in one place. At a critical time in the path to net-zero carbon and growth in the blue economy, this simple app makes available data and information available that will help decision-makers and developers alike.”

RICS Geomatics Expert Working Group chair Gordon Johnston MRICS commented: “I think the OGA’s lease agreement web-mapping service is a great step forward in providing clarity and a locational context for activities around the current leases and licences. With the general governmental initiatives to develop location-based services for the benefit of the UK, such as open data and trusted sources to support the development of more digital models and digital twins, this marks an important moment.

“There are many potential beneficiaries for this data including the mineral aggregates extraction sector, renewable energy, fishing, tourism and science. Our marine areas are of such importance that a managed ecosystem approach for fishing, energy sources, tourism of heritage sites, for instance, wreck diving, possible aggregate recovery, or researching areas for biomedicines is vital to enable a sustainable resource. The web mapping data will allow operators in the UK sector to fulfil environmental, sustainable governance criteria.

“There may also be a wider impact on the marine spatial data and planning aspects of the UK and its territories. The development of an authoritative dynamic web mapping service that obtains data from multiple sources could encourage the UK to sign up to an international initiative to support the sharing of data from non-specialist vessels and craft, that collect data on the depths.”

Related competencies include: Energy and renewable resources, GIS (geographical information systems), Hydrographic surveying, Open data

Related Articles


go to article How drones support mountain search and rescue teams


go to article Guidance issued on EV fire safety in car parks


go to article No easy fix in digitising the property market