Heriot-Watt sets global data landscape for BP Statistical Review

Posted by Jamie MacDonald


The economics professor who leads the in-depth data collation process for BP's annual Statistical Review of World Energy has welcomed the energy major's latest findings as “clear evidence of a major transformation in the global energy landscape”.

Professor Mark Schaffer, Director of the Centre for Energy Economics and Policy (CEERP), at Heriot-Watt University, said: “The 2017 Review is clear evidence of the interesting interaction between short and long-term energy forces. It demonstrates further progress in long run transitions in international energy production, consumption and trade. Energy efficiency is increasing globally at historically rapid rates, as evidenced by continued decreases in energy intensity*, while renewable energy is the fastest growing energy source worldwide.

“This is set against the backdrop of carbon emissions from fossil fuel use having little or no increase for the third year running and the use of coal falling sharply for the second year in a row. This is very clear evidence of a major transformation in the global energy landscape.”

Heriot-Watt has supported BP with its Statistical Review of World Energy since 2007. The Review provides high-quality objective and globally consistent data on world energy markets and the University's team of research associates pull together all the data for BP.

* Energy intensity is the average amount of energy needed to produce a unit of GDP.

“It is an in-depth piece of work which involves around half a million data points across time and space, with multiple units of measure, over 3,000 separate sources and notes”, said Prof Schaffer. “It's not just about checking numbers but also the drivers behind them. The analysis covers energy consumption, production, reserves and trade, based more than 300,000 data points, as well as data relating to carbon emissions, allowing for a fully integrated and dynamic picture of world energy markets.

“Our strength is how we collate, produce and make the data as comprehensive and accessible as possible for BP to analyse. We have developed a unique database system which archives all the data and allows easy extraction and conversion to standard units.”

Producing the data for BP's analysis is undertaken within a highly-intense period. This is because it's a survey of the most recent calendar year which means work can't start in earnest until around February.

Heriot-Watt's Chief Scientist John Underhill, said: "Production of BP's world-leading annual publication benchmark on oil, gas and energy trends is something which Heriot-Watt is justifiably proud to be part of and associated with.

“The University's research team draws upon and integrates its extensive and deep-rooted knowledge of the energy industry with its economics research expertise to great effect. “The combination of our innovative approach with the analytical output from the BP Statistical Review reflects the University's global vision to help drive the resilience of energy resources for communities around the world.” 

Heriot-Watt conducts its work for the BP Statistical Review from its Edinburgh-based CEERP hub which was established in 2015 with funding of £1.25m over three years from BP.

The University also has a well-established relationship with BP, working with the energy major on several high-profile projects including their support for the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Oil & Gas flagship whose training program currently hosts 90 PhD students and is led by Heriot-Watt University.

CEERP's other work with BP includes BP's annual Energy Outlook which sets out a base case that outlines the 'most likely' path for global energy markets until 2035, based on assumptions and judgments about future changes in policy, technology and the economy. For example, Prof Schaffer and Julian Fennema, an Honorary Associate Professor at Heriot-Watt, worked with BP to author a background paper for BP's Energy Outlook that looked at 200 years of world economic development and energy demand starting with the Industrial Revolution.

Heriot-Watt University's energy expertise and offering spans an international footprint across Dubai, Malaysia, Orkney and Edinburgh, while it also has a wide range of well-established global industry partnerships and collaborations.

Its Institute of Petroleum Engineering is one of the top teaching institutes of its kind in the world for petroleum engineering and petroleum geoscience while the University's Energy Academy is an international centre of multi-disciplinary skills and know-how across energy sectors ranging from generation & supply, renewable fuels and LNG, cold storage and cooling to fuel poverty, environmental impact and policy.

Last year, the University's launched its new £20m Lyell Centre in Edinburgh. The global research hub for earth and marine science and technology brings together the expertise of the British Geological Survey with the academic innovation of Heriot-Watt, and aims to ensure future generations of researchers are equipped and capable of meeting the global science and technology challenges facing the world. 

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