National Data Repositories—NDR 6

National Data Repository owners and vendors met last month to share case histories. NDR mileage varies. Norway’s DISKOS reports significant take-up while the US situation is like ’herding cats.’

The sixth meeting of the informal National Data Repositories (NDR) group was held in TNO’s Utrecht headquarters last month. The NDR meetings used to be restricted to government and oil company attendees, but since 2004, they have opened up to include vendors. A shift has also taken place in recent years as NDR now extends beyond oil and gas to more generic geo data repositories. NDR6 offered a good summary of the state of play of national data banks and the data situation in member countries.


NDRs differ so much that it is almost impossible to categorize them. Data release rules, culture, pressure from industry all combine to make for as many NDR and pseudo-NDR geometries as there are countries. More in the case of the UK which has 3 or 4 more or less coupled repositories (DEAL, CDA, National Geoscience Archive and the UK Oil Portal).


Norway continues to show the way in national data management. Not only because of its decade-long history of an online data bank, DISKOS, but also because of its aggressive policy of ‘refreshing’ its commercial partners. DISKOS was originally run by an IBM-led consortium, which developed the PetroBank data management system. This was later taken over by Halliburton unit Landmark Graphics. The situation changed when the DISKOS contract came up for its first renewal. Landmark’s PetroBank was retained, but operations were awarded to Schlumberger. Now the DISKOS software contract is again up for renewal and this time, a Norwegian newcomer Kadme is on the shortlist, along with the usual suspects, Schlumberger and Landmark.


The Netherlands deploys large scale complex, multi domain databases to manage the low-lying country that is susceptible to geo hazards like flooding. The NDR meeting included a field trip to Rotterdam’s Maeslantkering storm surge barrier. Coordinated use of this facility is a prime example of the use of a multi-disciplinary geological database. The cross discipline DINO internet database offers over 200 geoscience data types. DINO is based on ‘e-government’ principles and works on the principle that free data stimulates economic activity.


In South America, Schlumberger has built an own brand NDR, the Columbian EPIS. This uses Schlumberger Information Solutions’ Decision Point portal to expose Columbian E&P data and licensing information to the public.

North America

In North America, NDR activity is severely hampered by federal and state divisions of labor. Culture means that commercial data release predominates. In Canada, the ‘Calgary model,’ of all-commercial data release also holds sway. Both Canada and the USA are in the process of trying to unite disparate data stores across their countries. Everywhere, the legal situation of speculative seismic data requires sensitive treatment. Governments are wary of damaging an industry that has proved a powerful motor in promoting exploration. In the US, trying to make states, Federal government and other organizations cooperate is like ‘herding cats.’


NDRs can force an unusual degree of collaboration between vendors and service providers. In its DISKOS operations, Schlumberger’s SINAS unit operates Landmark’s PetroBank software. PetroBank uses Petris’ Recall (ex-Baker Hughes) package to manage well log data. The multi-vendor aspect goes even further. In the SINAS’ Ordering System (SOS) for public domain data, the GIS web application is Kadme’s Integrated GeoStore (IGS) application. The SINAS website itself was ‘customized’ by Kadme using the open source PostNuke, a PHP-based web portal development environment.

Borderless data

Ron Meiburg outlined Shell’s vision for ‘borderless’ E&P data. Global data management was an ‘essential component’ that was missing from Shell’s previous, devolved business unit based structure. The aim is for a ‘fully digitally-integrated borderless E&P business’. Shell’s vision is illustrated by a Norwegian operator supplying gas to a reseller in the UK with a customer in Italy—all tied together by data and information. This requires standards for data, metadata, documents, reports, exchange formats and taxonomies. Data and documents need to be digitally stored in real time and with suitable control of entitlements.

This article has been abstracted from a longer report produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch reporting service. For more on this service, please visit the Technology Watch home page or email

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