Creating standards for Common Data Access (February 1997)

Stewart Robinson - Computer Services Manager, Oil and Gas Division, UK Department of Trade and Industry tells PDM how the Common Data Access (CDA) project is going about selecting its standards.

CDA has been established to provide a radical solution to data management within the UK oil community which promises new ways of working and co-operation in data management between oil companies. One factor will be the establishment of a growing, shared database that will be built taking account of emerging POSC standards. Accompanying this development will be a move towards specific CDA standards, or recommended practices, that will define the way that CDA systems work.


Complex issues

These standards will cover basic things such as how to name wells and seismic lines; more complex issues such as how to catalogue hard copy items correctly and even esoteric issues such as quality assurance of log and seismic data. It is the intention that any CDA standards will follow POSC and will reflect UK legislative standards as defined by the DTI. It is expected that once CDA standards achieve common acceptance, they will be considered by the DTI, if appropriate, as candidates for "Operations Notices".

As chairman of the CDA Standards Committee, I am responsible for the formation of task-specific sub-committees from CDA member companies to address these particular topics. The Standards Committee takes account of:

any UKOOA or POSC standards in the area

de facto standards that are in use

practices in similar initiatives around the world

practices in other environments.

The Standards Committee tries to be impartial in their deliberations and after they have produced a draft it is published on the web. They have then met with companies who are currently active in the area being reviewed. For example after proposing standards for log loading DTI hosted a meeting for all involved service contractors.


Same Room

After the meeting a comment was heard to the effect that this was the first time all these competing companies had been in the same room at the same time. To date CDA have promulgated and agreed standards for:

company names

well names

log curves

log loading

log joining (compositing)


hard copy well data cataloguing

and work proceeds on standards for seismic lines, surveys, scanning and other issues. The basic design criteria in these standards is that they will be short and not prescriptive. They will define a framework that will allow third party suppliers to provide value added products to the oil and gas community. There are some key decisions that have already been made that will change the data management culture of the UK oil and gas industry in the following specific ways:

from a given date, the digital data will be regarded as the master set of data for log curves, not sepia or film as in the past

oil companies will be responsible for delivering quality digital log data for storage within the CDA systems and DTI will verify that a complete set has been lodged. When this exercise has been completed for old wells, it will allow oil companies to discard their non-operated well data.

since 1/1/96 DTI have not required or received copies of digital log data

since 1/1/96 partners have not been copied digital log data

third party data suppliers are soon to advertise their wares through CDA


Not dictating

This has all been hard work, particularly as we have been trying to take people with us and not dictate. However all involved have been very supportive and the oil industry have allocated excellent staff to the various work groups which shows their level of commitment. Discussions have been spirited but consensus was achieved usually very quickly. Very few people now see that there is any business advantage in naming wells or seismic lines or how you catalogue a well report. What people want are simple standards for basic tasks and to be able to get on with the task of looking for hydrocarbons.

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