Metocean in situ data are an important category of oceanographic and marine data, comprising observed parameters like sea level, waves, currents, sea temperature, conductivity, air temperature, air pressure, and wind. A major share of metocean in situ observations for the oceans and seas is collected by research institutions and governmental organizations, operating monitoring stations and performing field surveys. In addition a very substantial volume of metocean in situ data is collected by private industry, in particular by or under contract to major oil & gas companies. These companies operate worldwide in exploration and production of oil & gas resources, of which a considerable volume is originating from offshore oil & gas fields, scattered around the globe in seas and on Continental Shelves. Within Europe major offshore oil & gas fields can be found in the North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Caspian Sea, Norwegian Sea, and on the North Western Atlantic shelf. Beyond Europe major offshore activity areas are located in e.g. the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Brazil, China Sea, Australasia, Middle East and offshore West-Africa.
Observed metocean data, analyses and climate studies provide the oil & gas industry with essential information and knowledge for the design and engineering of offshore installations, such as production platforms and pipelines, and for assessing workability conditions. In addition the information is used for supporting the planning of, for example diving operations and the installation of pipelines, and the forecasting of storms and heavy weather conditions, which might require timely evacuation or other safety measures to be taken during the operation of offshore installations.
To support these activities, and to complement metocean data & information, that can be retrieved from public sources, major oil & gas companies are active in monitoring and collecting metocean data themselves. This is done all over the world and over many years the oil & gas companies have acquired together a large volume of data sets. These data sets are acquired, processed and analysed both in joint industry projects (JIP’s) as well as in field surveys and monitoring activities performed for individual companies. Often these data sets are acquired at substantial cost and in remote areas. These datasets are managed by the metocean departments of the oil & gas companies and stored in various formats.
Opening up these data sets for further use provides favourable conditions for creating highly valuable extra knowledge of both local and regional ocean & marine systems. To stimulate and support a wider application of these industry metocean datasets a System of Industry Metocean data for the Offshore and Research Communities (SIMORC) has been established. The SIMORC service aims at improving a common awareness of available data sets and a systematic indexing and archival of these data sets within the industry. It also aims at improving considerably reporting and access to these data sets & results of field studies for other parties, in particular the scientific community.
For these purposes the SIMORC system consists of an index metadatabase and a database of actual data sets, that together are accessible through the Internet. The index metadatabase is public domain, while access to data is regulated by a dedicated SIMORC Data Protocol. This contains rules for access and use of data sets by scientific users, by oil & gas companies, and by third parties. All metocean data sets in the SIMORC system database undergo quality control and conversion to unified formats, resulting in consistent and high quality, harmonized data sets.
The SIMORC service is the result of a unique and challenging development, undertaken by major ocean data management specialists: MARIS (NL), BODC (UK) and IOC-IODE (UNESCO), and the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), involving participation of major oil & gas companies, that bring in their considerable data sets. The initial development of SIMORC took place within the SIMORC project from 1st June 2005 till 1st December 2007 and has been co-funded by the European Commission. From 1st December 2007 onwards the SIMORC service is operated by MARIS and BODC, first till end 2015 in an arrangement with IOGP and from 2016 onwards in an arrangement with Total.
The SIMORC service had its public launch in March 2007. At present it covers more than 7700 data sets from Shell, Total and BP, covering more than 3000 years of observations of winds, waves, currents and sealevels. The SIMORC system is operational to serve users in identifying and getting access to data sets and to extend its coverage regularly with additional data sets from oil & gas companies.