BLOG: The importance of data sharing and making connections

Our research teams gathered recently in Wroclaw, Poland, for the SECURe project’s first General Assembly and the opportunity to chart the progress of our research programme.

This lovely city on the banks of the Odra river was a conducive place to take stock of work to date, as well as offering the chance of some gnome-spotting. These little bronze figures – more than 400 – are found across Wroclaw, placed there as a reminder of the Orange Alternative, a 1980s anti-Soviet resistance movement.

Once at the meeting venue, there was no time to reflect further on these symbolic statues. The project partners were there to talk about SECURe, which is funded by the European Union to understand the checks and monitoring that will ensure geoenergy technologies, including carbon storage, will be safe and secure over time. The different work packages will identify potential risks, however unlikely, and create measurement and mitigation strategies to reduce those risks further.

The SECURe project is not just about researchers deciding on the issues – a key activity is what is known as participatory monitoring. This is about involving communities adjacent to or affected by these industries, working with them to identify issues and develop techniques for them to collect data and monitor these areas of concern.

A report already available on this website gives an overview of a SECURe workshop held in March 2019 in The Hague, which introduced a framework for participatory monitoring and guidance on how it can be used in real-life.

The importance of data-collection, processing and knowledge sharing is a thread running through the project. During the assembly, delegates were given an overview of the project’s knowledge-sharing database, which provides access to data for all the project partners and every work package team.

This enables researchers from across the EU to work together using the same sets of data and share and analyse their outputs – making sure that the work packages are connected and collaborating effectively.

Mary Mowat of the British Geological Survey talked about the wider policy of the EU to make this publicly funded research available to all. All projects receiving Horizon 2020 (H2020) funding are required to make sure that any peer-reviewed journal article they publish is openly accessible and free of charge.

The SECURe project is committed to open access and is also participating in H2020’s Open Research Data Pilot, which aims to maximise access to, and re-use of, data generated by projects. This means that any final datasets collected or generated under the project will be freely available to the public.

As Mary described, this data will be archived for use in the longer term under FAIR data principles: namely, Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. This makes the entire research process more robust, transparent and reproducible by enabling results to be validated and providing better value for money from publicly funded EU research projects.

It also helps to avoid duplication of effort, encourages more collaborations and can speed up future innovation and knowledge transfer. More data reaches more people and so it can have greater impact, creating additional value from this public funding.

The value of pulling everyone together in one place was established early in the meeting when participants talked about the reasons for undertaking the project. Jan Lubaś, Associate Professor and Deputy Director for Hydrocarbon Deposits Development at the Oil and Gas Institute - National Research Institute (PGNiG), provided a suitable context with regard to Poland in his introductory talk.

The meeting gave project partners the opportunity to frame their discussions within the overall ambitions of the project, as well as deliver outputs from their first year of research.  They then separated into discussion groups to consider how best to deliver outputs from each work package, and ensure they remain on track for achieving the project’s future activities.

These face-to-face meetings go beyond collaboration at work package level as smaller groups of researchers stayed on after the formal break-out meetings to drill down into the detail of their collaborative work, with several new ideas emerging as a result.

The assembly also afforded the chance for the partners to visit a site in Poland, which has been injecting CO2 into geological storage sites for more than 20 years.

The Borzęcin acid gas injection project, operated by PGNiG, was the first full-scale acid gas reinjection process site in Europe. An amine capture process is used to separate hydrogen sulphide and CO2 from the produced gas, and these gases are then reinjected into the reservoir.

The project is of great interest and value to SECURe as it provides 20 years of data and modelling from a real-life injection site. The visit also afforded the researchers an opportunity to ask detailed questions of those working there.  

Outputs from the SECURe project to date can be found on our Project Outputs page

(Photo: Mary Mowat (left) and Philippa Parmiter discuss the planned data-sharing functionality of the SECURe project website. Credit: Vanessa Mather)