At Common Access Data (CDA), our role is to provide shared data management services within the exploration and production (E&P) sector.
These tools help deliver the subsurface data required, but how do we ensure that oil and gas companies have the best tools to make sense of data, reduce geological uncertainty and unlock new sources of economic value?
To monitor how effectively our services are helping companies make decisions about their business, we commissioned Schlumberger to compile a report on how firms perceive and value information derived from subsurface data and apply it to their E&P activities.
More than 20 senior executives from oil companies in the UK and Norway in management roles covering exploration, asset, subsurface and production activities participated. In their estimation, 25-33% of the total value generated each year from their E&P activities could be attributed to the effective management of data in helping them to better understand subsurface geology.
This information typically includes exploration data (for example seismic surveys), production data (such as hourly flow readings) and interpreted data, in the form of information that includes processed seismic data and dynamic reservoir models.
To gain an accurate estimate of how data adds value, the study considered four elements: the total value delivered each year by projects; a company’s balance between exploration, production and development; the contribution that knowledge of the subsurface delivers to these activities, and the extent to which interpretation of the subsurface is dependent on the data.
On average, the senior managers involved in the study believe that 70% of the value generated by oil companies’ E&P activities relies on their understanding of the subsurface.
This understanding is influenced by the combination of four factors: the people, tools, data and the processes applied to manage the data.
Although people, tools and processes are integral to establishing an understanding of subsurface geology, the surveyed participants perceived data to be the most influential factor (at 38%), with people, tools and processes registering 32.7%, 15.1% and 13.7% respectively.
What this study demonstrates is that data, managed effectively, can add significant value to a company’s activities, often much more than is realised. Companies who enhance their understanding of data can increase the value of their assets, by using the information to increase production or evaluate potential prospects more accurately, or identify ways to more effectively develop an asset.
On the other hand, if it is not made available to those who need it when they need it, or if it is not of the required quality, then companies should invest in better ways to manage their data to make the most of the business opportunities before them.
Depending on the resources available and companies’ existing capabilities, there are various ways to improve data management.
By identifying where investment needs to be directed, companies can make improvements in areas such as data quality, access and indexing systems, preservation, security and governance, which will improve overall performance.
Properly managed, data also provides benefits long term. This report highlights the fact that E&P companies can often re-use historic data available through tools such as CDA’s Well and Seismic data stores, to re-evaluate previous interpretations of reservoirs, leading to the development of new fields or the redevelopment of existing ones, thereby extending profitable oil and gas production. This is particularly topical as the UK continues to focus on making the most of its indigenous oil and gas resources.
The findings of this report reinforce the need for CDA’s current campaign to ensure that the discipline of data management is recognised as a profession in its own right.
We are focusing on systematically capturing the wealth of existing expertise within the industry, to create a framework for transferring that knowledge to current and future practitioners, so that skills and competencies are standardised, retained and developed.
Throughout 2011, we will be working collaboratively across the industry to develop a framework for career development, with support from a chartered institute that will have the authority to award formal qualifications.
Formalising the data management discipline in the oil and gas industry will allow practitioners to integrate more effectively with the businesses they support and help secure long-term business benefits.
To read the full report, The Business Value Case for Data Management, log into: www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/datamanagementvaluestudy/
Malcolm Fleming is chief executive of Common Data Access (CDA), which is a subsidiary of Oil & Gas UK.