National Data Repositories (February 1997)

Sandra Scott, Managing Director, QC Data U.K. Ltd. tells PDM of the increasingly wide deployment of the National Data Repository.

A growing trend in recent years in data management in the oil and gas industry has been the establishment of national data repositories. A national data repositories is loosely defined to be data storage and sharing between more than one company. The stimulus for the oil companies participation has been cost savings related to more efficient data storage and data retrieval. Governments are participating with a desire to not only preserve data as a national asset but to maximise that asset in attracting foreign investment and facilitating more cost effective exploration and production. A recent example of this is the emergence of PanCanadian Petroleum, a Canadian based company, in the North Sea who immediately joined the CDA National Data Repository upon establishing their offices in the UK.

Four different models for establishing national data repositories are in existence.

Government sponsored e.g. Norway, Algeria, Peru

Industry sponsored e.g. UK (CDA project)

Commercially sponsored e.g. Canada

Jointly sponsored e.g. Indonesia, USA-MMS

The particular mode adopted in each country depends upon the culture of that country's oil industry and the nature of the government's involvement. Each initiative generally maintains very unique management structures and charging mechanisms. One common factor is that oil companies are involved. Several major oil companies are now members, or users, of more than one repository and are reviewing their global data management strategies based upon the emergence of these repositories. For example, at a recent POSC conference Elf gave a paper explaining how they were hoping to establish links to various National Repositories from their corporate headquarters in Pau, France.

There is an industry view that if there are common, or standard, ways of storing and exchanging data then oil companies can start to realise efficiencies across national boundaries with mutual benefits to all. In support of this view the UK Department of Trade and Industry agreed to host a meeting of interested parties. The goal of this meeting was to facilitate a "global project team" that could provide global benefits for the oil industry in the area of data management.

The first meeting held in London in April, 1996 was attended by representatives from 13 national data repositories. Attendees met colleagues involved in similar projects, established friendly contacts, freely exchanged ideas, and explored possible areas for co-operation. While each national data repository may be unique in its technology and operations, many potential areas for beneficial cross pollination were defined. Initial areas for collaboration were in establishing standards for naming conventions(i.e. for wells and seismic) and for defining high level frameworks for common business processes(i.e. quality assurance procedures, etc.) and establishing standards for data exchange.

A second follow on meeting was held in Norway in September, 1996. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate provided a tour and shared some of their experiences in setting up a National Data Repository. Several break out sessions were held investigating whether it is possible to develop co-operation around the areas of meta data and business processes. Attendees found this second meeting useful and it was agreed to continue to meet. Actions taken away from the second meeting included the creation of Web pages via POSC and an exercise, to be managed by Stewart Robinson of the UK DTI, to try and move towards common definitions of meta data for well and seismic data.

Progress to date has been very positive, as highlighted by the tremendous interest from governments and representatives around the world. The next National Data Repository meeting is scheduled for June 16 and 17 in Calgary, Canada. QC Data Ltd., are hosting the event which will focus on the area of data exchange.

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