Case Studies: Common Data Access Ltd
Collaboration enables over 30 companies to share valuable information
refinery picture Energy exploration was once largely a matter of drill and hope. Today, oil and gas are required in vast quantities by both the domestic consumer and industry. Information technology has revolutionised exploration and the use of computer provides sophisticated tools to help decide where to deploy the costly exploration drilling rigs. One significant factor in this use of IT is the quantity of information that is captured and stored. Information captured in a certain area may be ofimmediate use or stored for when exploration in that area becames of interest.

The information used is expensive to gather and efficient storage and retrieval is of great benefit to those companies using that data. Becuase of the cost of data gathering, the results are frequently shared between companies on a commercial basis. To enable sharing of data in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) area, a major project has been started using a state-of-the-art technology system to manage the complex information. The new system is an important part of a collaborative project being managed by Common Data Access Ltd. (CDA), on behalf of over 30 companies with interests on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). Supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, this project is designed to rationalise and improve the management of the UK's oil exploration information resources and will eventually result in a common, high quality store for all UKCS data.

Collaborative development

refinery picture The project uses the latest software, data and expertise to maintain this information. A number of companies with specialist expertise are working together to make this one of the most advanced data repositories in the world. The sharing of the UKCS data is based upon the KONFIG® CM (formally CENTRA 2000®) Engineering Document Management (EDM) system from Wolverhampton-based Centra Technology. It has been selected by Spectrum Energy and Information Technology Ltd. as the key document management tool in a new, integrated system for storing, accessing and retrieving UK Continental Shelf well log information.

The EDM system provides the underlying electronic document archiving, management and distribution facilities for the well log information. The information maintenance application has been developed jointly by Centra Technology and Spectrum. In a two-year project, which started at the end of 1998, Spectrum is extending the existing digital well data and on-line index, maintained for CDA by QC Data Ltd. This will create a comon, high quality data storage and access system for all primary geotechnical data required by geoscientists in their day-to-day work.

Using its extensive document scanning and indexing facilities, Spectrum is creating a new database of well log and report images from several hundred thousand hard-copy records. This will be combined with well log information which has been made available by Llandudno-based Robertson Research and then linked to the existing index and on-line data to create a unified geotechnical document database, managed by the EDM system.

Major benefits will flow

refinery picture For an industry which currently requires anything between 3000 and 10000 copies of well log data every month, the new database is expected to provide major benefits. It will eliminate the current need for oil companies to store their own copies of well log data, thereby avoiding duplication and providing faster access to higher quality information, better data exchange facilities and greater security against data loss and deterioration. This system is also expected to result in lower data management costs for its users.

Using many of the standard features of the KONFIG® CM product,the single, integrated solution provides data access for users via a standard Internet / Intranet Web browser. It also integrates with Microsoft Office applications and can support both structured and unstructured data. The system can also accomodate GEOSTATION®, a peteroleum GIS (Geographic Information System), as a front-end to enable users to request data for specific areas by identifying those areas on digital maps of the UK Continental Shelf.

The future

As the database of information grows, the oil and gas companies will obtain ever increasing savings from instant access to the most current and specific data for exploration. They will do this safe in the knowledge that the system provides secure access only to those who own the data or are licensing its use. This project shows how technology can help competitors co-operate to their own advantage, as well as society in general.