One of the regulators of the UK hydrocarbon industry has criticised the quality of information it holds on oil and gas wells.
In a document updated this summer, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) said details on onshore and offshore wells were missing or inconsistent.
Existing data must be brought up to “a bare minimal standard” as an immediate priority, it said.
In the introduction to the document, Basic Wellbore validation, the OGA said:
“For a variety of historical reasons the data that the OGA currently holds (at the end of 2016) about wellbores is inadequate.
“There are missing values and inconsistent attributes that mean the data fails to achieve the minimal standards required to be of value to the OGA and the UK oil industry.
“In order to address this issue the OGA has undertaken a project to drive immediate improvement in the quality of its wellbore data collection.”
“Lack of trust”
The comments raise questions about the standard of regulation of the oil and gas industry, often described by government and industry as “gold standard”.
The OGA said one of its responsibilities was to provide what it called “accurate and trusted data” about the industry. A key part of that was to ensure there was a reliable list of wells and their characteristics, it said.
“In order for any set of data to be worth employing it must achieve a certain minimal level of quality.
“If it fails to do so then the lack of trust placed in the data dramatically reduces the impact it can have. The list of wellbores held by the OGA is an important component in decisions taken both within The Authority and externally.”
The OGA said it intended to create “a comprehensive data standard” for well data in the future. But this was expected to take some time. In the meantime, it said:
“It was felt that a focused project to bring the existing data to a bare minimal standard was the most immediate priority.”
The document, first published in 2016, gives examples of problems including:
- Confusion about definitions of different parts of a well
- Use of both feet and metres for distances
- Different methods for presenting longitude and latitude
- Incorrect or missing dates
The significance of accurate data was a key issue at two onshore wells reported on by DrillOrDrop in the past year.
Earlier this month, the approved depth of the Ellesmere Port-1 well was the subject of a dispute between IGas and Cheshire West and Chester Council. The OGA’s public wellbore portal has no information about the depth of this well.
In May 2017, DrillOrDrop reported on information from Angus Energy that there had been a discrepancy in well numbering at its Brockham site in Surrey.
The licence holder of a wellsite is responsible for reporting data about wellbores.
The OGA said it had created a tool to help companies validate whether the data on their wells is correct. It gives a summary score for the overall quality of data and identifies values that need correction or checking.
The document also outlines what data is required from site licensees and has accepted definitions of key features of a well where data is required.