Influence of man-made structures in the ecosystem

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the Programme funded?

The Foundation Phase of the Programme is being funded by a group of eight international energy companies: BP, Centrica, CNR International, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil, Shell, Talisman–Sinopec and Total. Companies interested in joining as sponsors are encouraged to get in touch with the Programme Director via the website.

How is INSITE ensuring that the science produced under the Programme is demonstrably independent rather than skewed to the sponsors’ potential interests?

The independence of the Programme is ensured by the establishment of the Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB), chaired by Associate Professor Torgeir Bakke, by which proposals are requested from the research community and funding awards made. This process specifies how the Request for Proposals (RfP) process is conducted and the evaluation criteria used to identify the most suitable proposals for funding. This procedure was agreed before the RfP was issued and the responsibility lies solely with the ISAB to select the proposals that best deliver on the Programme’s stated objectives. The ISAB’s recommendations can only be challenged by the Executive Committee if the agreed process has not been followed. An independent audit by the external verification body DNV-GL has been performed and confirms that the process has been followed correctly. Their summary report can be viewed on the Download page, together with the document entitled ‘Request for Proposal & Funding Awards Process - Foundation Phase’ containing full details of the procedure.

What is the size of the research fund available under INSITE?

The estimated fund for the first or Foundation Phase of the INSITE Programme is £1.8 Million. This figure is net of an estimation of project administration and management overhead. The Programme remains open for other sponsors to join, with any new member contributions directly increasing the available research fund.

How is the Programme structured and over what timeframe?

It is envisaged that the Programme will consist of a number of phases starting with the Foundation Phase, with the potential for further phases dependent on the outcomes. The Foundation Phase is anticipated to be carried out over a three year period, the duration of subsequent phases will be determined by their scope.

How many research projects have been awarded funding?

Eight projects have been selected for the Foundation Phase. Summaries of each of these are set out on the Research Projects page.

When research is completed, how will the outcomes be made available to the wider interested community?

The INSITE Programme is committed to seeing the outcomes from the research published in peer reviewed scientific journals in order to facilitate access to and use of the findings by all stakeholders. It is a requirement of the Programme that outcomes from all contracted research will be published in this way by the researchers.

What are the scientific priorities for the Programme?

The INSITE Scope Framework has been developed to encourage the scientific community to concentrate on delivering against the Programme’s objectives rather than a prescriptive scope of work. The ISAB are seeking proposals which address a range of key aspects of the ecosystem which work to date has suggested have been influenced by the presence of man-made structures in the North Sea.

Who decided which proposals will receive funding and that the Programme outcomes are of the highest scientific quality?

It is the responsibility of the Independent Scientific Advisory Board to prepare the Request for Proposals (RfP) package and recommend funding awards from the proposals which it believes will best deliver on the Programme’s objectives. The ISAB is responsible in ensuring that the Programme delivers the highest quality science.

Who is on INSITE’s Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB)?

The ISAB is made up of five pre-eminent scientists as follows:

  • Professor Torgeir Bakke, Norwegian Institute for Water Research (Chair)
  • Professor Jan de Leeuw, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and University of Utrecht
  • Professor Karen Wiltshire, Alfred Wegener Institute and Jacobs University, Bremen
  • Professor Henk Brinkhuis, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and University of Utrecht
  • Professor John Shepherd, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton

Short biographies are available on the ISAB page.

How have you sought input from other stakeholders to the scope of the project?

Meetings were held in December 2013 to gather feedback from a broad cross-section of stakeholders on the proposed scope framework for the Programme. This feedback has been included in the RfP and is available in the Downloads section, together with lists of the organisations which were represented at the meetings.

What man-made structures are of interest to INSITE?

Structures of interest include steel and concrete oil and gas installations, pipelines and renewable energy structures. Shipwrecks are also considered relevant in providing an analogue of a structure of known age.

Which geographic areas are of interest to the Programme?

INSITE is interested in the area known as ‘Region II, The Greater North Sea’ under OSPAR’s definition. It is the region which has the most man-made structures in it and excludes west of Shetland. The east Irish Sea may be included if it can be demonstrated that it is relevant to the Greater North Sea region. It includes all national jurisdictions within this area.

Which countries are leading the research projects?

While proposals were received from across the international scientific community, the projects being funded are led by research institutions based in Germany, the Netherlands and United Kingdom, with co-investigators in Belgium and Norway.

What data will be made available by INSITE to researchers to support their work?

A data project at Heriot-Watt University is also being funded to ensure sufficient supportive data is available to the recipients of the eight two-year research awards.

Does INSITE have any links to any other initiatives?

INSITE is an entirely independent programme and has no links to any other programmes. Independence is of paramount importance to the validity of the outcomes from INSITE and the reputation of the Programme and those associated with it.

What are the key dates associated with the Programme?

The key dates for the Pre and Full Proposals under RFP01 of the INSITE Programme are shown below:

Issue Request for Pre-Proposals (RFP 01-1) 9 July 2014
Closing date for Pre-proposals (RFP 01-1) 22 August 2014
Issue Request for Full Proposals (RFP 01-2) 20 October 2014
Closing Date for Full Proposals (RFP 01-2) 12 December 2014
Notifications of award 13 March 2015
Public announcement of awards November 2015
Why are there no sponsors from the renewables sector?

As the original concept for INSITE was facilitated by Oil & Gas UK, the core sponsor group to make the Programme viable was sought from its membership who had participated in previous studies. It is however recognized that the Programme is as relevant for renewable structures as oil and gas structures and we would welcome hearing from companies in the global renewable energy sector who may be interested in becoming sponsors of INSITE.

Now the RfP process has concluded and awards announced, how can I contribute scientifically to INSITE if my organisation wasn’t successful?

The Full Proposal RfP concluded in March 2015 and details of the first round of INSITE funding awards made public in November 2015. There may be further RfP’s issued either as part of the Foundation Phase or subsequent phases. If you have registered with the Programme via the insitenorthsea.org web-site you will be kept informed of future RfP’s. Non-scientific enquiries or interest should be directed to Richard Heard.