UK Energy Minister Launches Data Access Initiative

Two initiatives to stimulate new exploration in the North Sea by improving access to the vast collection of scientific data gathered over three decades of oil and gas activity in the UK were launched by Minister of Energy and chair of PILOT Stephen Timms. The new DEAL Data Registry publishes via the Web a comprehensive catalogue of released well and seismic survey data for the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), and points viewers to where this data may be obtained. Secondly, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), together with the British Geological Survey (BGS), has established the National Hydrocarbon Data Archive to preserve, for posterity, the most valuable geo-science data collected from the UKCS and make this data available at low cost for public use.

Speaking at Offshore Europe, the oil and gas industry's biannual exhibition and conference in Aberdeen, Stephen Timms said: "The DEAL Data Registry and the new National Hydrocarbon Data Archive are further measures which will help to stimulate exploration in the UKCS and keep up the momentum of interest in the area. "Coupled with the Fallow Field Initiative and recent tax incentives today's new data sources are further evidence of the benefits to be reaped as a result of the continuing close collaboration between government and industry through the PILOT forum.

"The recent success of the 21st offshore licensing round, in particular the record number of offers to new entrants, proves there is still great interest in the potential rewards left in the UKCS. Today's announcements are further proof of our commitment to help these companies wherever possible and to ensure that government and industry work together to maximize the economic life of the UKCS. "UK oil companies have helped this process further by agreeing to allow the DTI to publish exploration data after four years rather than five"

Alan Booth, Managing Director of Encana (UK) Limited, said: "The creation of the new Data Registry and National Archive is an important step in ensuring we maximize the UKCS' significant remaining exploration and reserve potential. Just as important, these changes demonstrate the collaborative spirit that exists between all stakeholders in the UK oil and gas industry."

The DEAL Data Registry builds upon the success of DEAL, launched in 2000, also as a PILOT initiative and widely regarded as an indispensable tool for new license applicants. The DEAL Data Registry is managed by CDA Limited, a subsidiary of the UK Offshore Operators' Association (UKOOA), and is operated by the BGS. By the end of 2004, the DEAL Data Registry will offer a comprehensive catalogue of well, seismic and other important data, linking users to more than ten million items of geo-science data. Almost half this volume is available today on launch.

The National Hydrocarbon Data Archive (NHDA) is part of the National Geo-Science Data Centre located at BGS's headquarters at Nottingham and other offices including Edinburgh. Working together, the DTI, UKOOA, CDA and the BGS are encouraging oil companies to deposit selected geoscientific data in the NHDA, relieving them of their current obligations to keep the data forever. Six oil companies are now transferring data for UKCS licenses to the new archive and the first data is expected to be consigned to the NHDA before the end of 2003.

PILOT is the successor body to the Oil and Gas Industry Task Force (OGITF) and was established in January 2000 to secure the long-term future of the oil and gas industry in the UK. PILOT is made up of twenty-three key Government representatives and recognized leaders from the industry. It meets on a quarterly basis. PILOT aims to achieve the following outcomes for 2010:

  • Production maintained at 3 million barrels of oil equivalent;
  • Capital investment maintained at £3 billion per annum;
  • Prolonged self sufficiency in oil and gas;
  • 100,000 more jobs in addition to earlier forecasts;
  • 50% increase in exports (by 2005);
  • £1 billion additional revenue from new business.