Part of the answer may lie in education. As the call for reassurance and information about sustainability – from consumers, investors and regulators alike – continues to grow, many oil and gas sector industry insiders are asking themselves: “Do stakeholders actually understand the data and the implications for our sector?” Unfortunately, it would seem that all too often the answer is no. After all, it is only possible to have a sensible conversation about where improvements can be made on the basis of a good understanding of the nature of the problem.
A key challenge is the fact that the collection, analysis and dissemination of information relating to environmental impacts increases as supply chains become more complex. As the industry diversifies into other forms of energy production, the wider implications around, for example, deforestation, biodiversity and water scarcity, mean that companies will be expected to collect and share meaningful high-resolution data on an ongoing basis. One potential strategy could see companies acquire data remotely from orbiting satellites and harness this input by using web-based technologies. This makes it possible to acquire, store and analyse near-real time data in high resolution or over vast geographical areas, taking advantage of ubiquitous web browsers and cloud-based processing and storage.
Companies will increasingly be expected to make better informed procurement decisions and transform such insight into a valuable communication tool that builds trust with investors, shareholders and customers. In parallel, a greater focus must be placed on explaining why environmental impact data varies between companies, geographies and production assets, and the fact that some companies that report higher emissions are not necessarily less efficient or less well managed.