In North America, the only constant when it comes to Oil and Gas companies is change. With mergers and acquisitions (M&A), hydrocarbon assets constantly change hands. The value of acquired assets will then either be maintained, increased. decreased or maximized depending on how it is managed under the new owners. It is generally agreed the value can only be maximized when the asset’s geological models, reservoirs’ dynamics, and wells’ behavior are fully understood to their minute details. The new owner takes over the asset but is not guaranteed the people with the knowledge.
Building a clear understanding of the new asset becomes an urgent matter for the new owner. This understanding is typically hidden under the mountain of data and files that change hands together with the asset. How and when the data is migrated to the new organization, therefore, can build up or bring down the value.
Typically, when an asset changes hands, the field staff remains, but the geologists and geoscientists that strategized the assets’ management may not follow the asset. This can mean that a great deal of knowledge is potentially lost in transition. This makes the data and documents that are delivered, after the transaction is complete, that much more important to understanding the details of the acquisition. Obtaining as much of this data as possible is crucial. As a geologist who has been through multiple mergers put it:
“Knowledge like drilling through a fault is only known to the asset team operating the asset. This information is not publicly available. During the transition, getting any maps or reports from the geologists will help the acquiring company develop the right models and strategies to increase value. We want all the data we can get our hands on.”
Another key consideration is software licenses and versions, which may or may not transfer. We find that the risk of losing the information permanently due to software incompatibility, licensing, or structure issues is very real. Migrating the technical data during the transitioning period will help protect the new owner from data loss.
Per Harvey Orth, a geophysicist and former CIO who has been through three mergers and acquisitions:
“In many cases, companies made an agreement with the software vendor to maintain a read-only copy of all the data; just in case they needed to extract some data they had not loaded into their production systems (for the new owner) or need the data for legal or tax reasons later (for the seller). In fact, keeping a read-only copy can be easily negotiated within a purchase agreement if you are divesting an asset. When acquiring, then everything and anything you can get your hands on can be essential to getting the most value from the field and should be migrated. ”
Tips to Protect the Value of New Assets
Experts like us can help ensure that data is migrated quickly and efficiently and that the right data is obtained from the acquisition target. However, if inclined to manage the data transfer yourself, we share the following tips:
Make it Manageable, Prioritize it Right:
While all of the data and information is important, time is of the essence. Most companies will prioritize migrating “accounting” data, and rightly so, but to maximize value, technical data must also be at the top of the priority list. The following should top your priority list: production volumes and pressure data, land and lease data, well construction & intervention data (drilling, completions, and intervention history), Reservoir characterization (logs, paraphysics, core …etc.)
Do Due Diligence with a Master List
Getting your hands on all the data starts with a master list of all the assets, including such things as active wells and their statuses. This list is the first-stop shop for every department that needs to build its knowledge and processes to manage the new assets. It is also the checklist against which to assess received information. If you have invested in a MDM (Master Data Management) system, then adding the new assets to the database should be one of your first steps.
Know What is Good Quality and What Is Not.
One of the biggest obstacles that companies face is the realization that their own data is not standardized and clean. So now they are faced with the prospect of adding bad to bad.
Much can be said about investing in data quality standards and governance practice. It makes folding in any new assets easier, faster and cost effective. If you don’t have strong data standards yet, see if you can inherit them from the selling company, or alternatively get help from IM experts to create these standards and merge legacy data with the new acquisitions.
Make it Findable: Tag Your Electronic files
Documents like geological maps, logs, lab reports, management presentations, and other files contain a wealth of information. Finding the right file can take considerable time, especially if the organizer was not you. Take advantage of Artificial Intelligence and “tag” the files based on their content. This will create a layer of metadata and make finding the right file based on “petroleum natural language” easier.
For additional information or a free consultation on migrating M&A data please contact us at email@example.com