About my research

My research explores the prospects for the oil and gas industry to play a more meaningful role in Europe’s energy transition. Focusing on the North Sea region, my research examines oil and gas company strategies in relation to low carbon energy, including investment, innovation, and the role of policy and regulation. The research draws from theories in innovation studies, business studies, and science and technology studies. It analysis in an integrated way the technological, organizational and political processes which are reshaping the boundaries between the traditional fossil fuel and the renewables-based energy industries. The outcomes of the project include an understanding of how existing actors in the oil and gas industry can adapt to and drive the energy transition, through developing a deeper understanding of diversification strategies, investment and innovation processes, along with a set of supporting policy and industry recommendations.

What has amazed you in your research so far?

Throughout the project I have been surprised with the willingness and interest of the oil and gas industry to engage in my research. During the research I have interviewed a wide range of actors from the oil and gas industry, from international companies and supply chain firms, to policy makers and regulatory bodies. Almost every stakeholder that I have reached out to has been willing to be part of the research. Furthermore, this continued during my secondments with the industry, where the partner organisations were very open and transparent about the opportunities and challenges the industry faces. The oil and gas industry is currently at a stage where it is figuring out its future role, and realise that new perspective and insights are needed. In addition, another surprise has been the significant variation in industry action with low carbon technologies. Whilst we have seen considerable engagement by some actors, there has also been a lack of action by others. Researching and understanding the reasons behind these variations has been one of the most interesting parts of the research.

How will your secondments benefit your research?

I have just recently finished my three secondments, which amounted to eight months in total. My first secondment was at Norwegian Energy Partners (NORWEP) in Oslo. Here I gained a valuable overview and experience regarding how the Norwegian oil and gas industry is engaging with low carbon technologies, mainly offshore wind. My second secondment was at Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) at their head office in Assen, Netherlands. Here I was seconded in the Energy Transition Team where I gained direct experience in how a large oil and gas company engages in low carbon technologies, including the reuse and repurposing of existing assets, as well as the challenges they face in doing so. Learning first-hand and in-depth about the challenges and opportunities a large company faces complemented my previous secondment at NORWEP which provided a more industry level perspective. My final secondment was at Chalmers University in Sweden, where I was writing up and sharing my research with colleagues.

How would you like to continue your research after the ENSYSTRA project?

After my PhD I would like to keep researching this topic. Since I started the project there have been many developments from both the industry and governments. However, despite this many challenges still remain and there exists a need for more research in accelerating the transition in the industry.

What exciting developments do you want to reach in the near future?

As I am coming to end of my PhD the main focus is on its completion. In addition, during the project I have been fortunate to present my research at academic and industry conferences around Europe and North America. This has been a very rewarding experience and I am looking forward to continuing this going forward, albeit virtually.

If you have any questions of queries, please direct them to the author Harry Moncreiff or the ENSYSTRA Project Manager Dirk Kuiken or Deborah Groeneweg.

If you are interested in the specifics of the 15 research projects, you can find summaries and video explanations from the researchers here.

Our project is supported by 23 industry partner institutions.

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