11 Jan 2023
by John Seabourn

Digital as an enabler for growth in the blue economy  (Guest blog by NSTA)

John Seabourn, NSTA Chief Digital & Information Officer, talks about using data and digital technology for economic growth in the offshore energy sector. 


Digital technology as an enabler for economic growth 

The NSTA regulates and influences the oil, gas and carbon storage industries. We help drive North Sea Energy transition. We’ve always done this by being data driven as recommended by the Wood Review in 2014. Sir Ian Wood’s review cited transparency and access to data as important “to promote investments, create value and support safe operations” which meant that when the NSTA was created we had appropriate powers, resources and enforcement procedures in place to facilitate the sharing of data. 

What did we do about it? 

NSTA’s Digital Strategy has enabled a culture of digital transformation by giving our people the skills to transform the way they work while partnering and collaborating with our digital and data supply chain. This built on our initial Information Management Strategy, which put in place the framework for a new approach, enabling our organisation and industry to improve information quality, coherence, consistency and transparency – and help to unlock significant UKCS potential across the whole lifecycle. This approach included revolutionary data regulations in the Energy Act 2016, marking the beginning of the journey to unify data storage and transform access to information.   

These strategic endeavours have produced incredible results for UK Plc. We now benchmark industry through an annual stewardship survey and subsequent tier 0 meeting, which has encouraged operators to share best practice, drive improvements in everything from emissions reduction to data management. In addition, supply chain companies are using our Energy Pathfinder tool to keep track of upcoming contracting opportunities for North Sea activities, including oil and gas, offshore wind, and carbon storage. Finally, we’ve made hundreds of terabytes of data from North Sea wells and seismic data available through our National Data Repository, which has continued to support the exploration community and ensure the UK’s energy security.  

These services, and many others we’ve developed, provide unparalleled access to data and information to support decision making throughout the energy industry. There are many decisions to be made in a competitive North Sea as our Energy Lease Agreement app shows. Many of these data were collected through oil and gas operations are now being used for purposes we never imagined; such as siting new wind farms as demonstrated by Rockwave during a successful Scotwind bidding round and in new emerging industries such as CCS

Where to next? 

It is increasingly challenging to harness data due to the sheer pace and volume at which it is created. However, our experience is that the challenge is one that’s worth facing given the huge value that is there for the energy transition. This is underpinned by a culture of innovation, data sharing and repurposing, providing a better outcome for all. Data is not the new oil, it’s better than that.    

Get involved with our work 

All of techUK’s work is led by our members – keep in touch or get involved with our work on transport and infrastructure by joining our groups.  


The Smart Energy and Utilities Programme provides a strong platform of technological solutions in support of delivering a competitive, dynamic, and flexible market.


The Intelligent Mobility and Transport's Group aim is to deliver a digitally-enabled, interoperable, integrated and inclusive transport network that connects people and services with multiple modes of mobility.


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John Seabourn

John Seabourn

Chief Digital & Information Officer , NSTA

John Seabourn | LinkedIn