Effective data management, specifically in the exploration and production (E&P) business, has a significant positive impact on operational efficiency and profitability of oil and gas companies. Upstream companies are now realizing that a separate “Data Management” or “Data Services” department is needed in addition to the conventional IT department. Those Departments’ key responsibilities are to “professionally” and “effectively” manage E&P technical data assets worth millions, in some cases, billions of dollars.
Traditional Data Management Processes Cannot Keep up with Today’s Industry Information Flow
Currently, day-to-day “data management” tasks in the oil and gas industry are directed and partially tracked using Excel spreadsheets, emails and phone calls. One of the companies I visited last month, was using excel to validate receipt of seismic data against contracts and PO; e.g. all surveys and all their associated data. Another one used excel to maintain a list of all Wire-line Log data ordered by petrophysicists in a month to compare to end-of-the-month invoices.
Excel might be adequate if an E&P company is small and has little ambition to grow. However, the larger a company’s capital (and ambitions) the more information and processes are involved to manage data and documents’ life cycle. Consider more than 20,000 drilling permits issued a year in Texas alone. Trying to manage this much information with a spreadsheet, some tasks are bound to fall through the cracks.
Senior managers are more interested than ever in the source , integrity and accuracy of information that affect and influence their HSE and financial statements.
Providing senior managers with such information requires transparent data management processes that are clearly defined, repeatable, verifiable and that allow managers to identify, evaluate and address or alleviate any obvious or potential risks…. before they become a risk. Preferably all delivered efficiently and cost-effectively.
Choosing the Right E&P Data Management Workflow Tools
It’s tempting to stay with the old way of doing things – the “way we have always done it” – because you have already established a certain (and personal), rhythm of working, inputting and managing data. Even the promise of improved profitability and efficiency is often not enough to convince people to try something new. But the advantages of new workflow tools and programs cannot and should not be underestimated.
For example, a workflow tool can help automate the creation of data management tasks, log and document technical meta data, track data related correspondence, alert you for brewing issues. When all set and done, data management department would be set for growth and for handling more load of work with out skipping a beat. Growing by adding more people is not sustainable.
So, where to start?
There are multiple data management workflow tools available from a variety of different vendors, so how do you know which one will work best for your company? You will need to ensure that your workflow tool or software is able to do the following:
- Keep detailed technical documentation of incoming data from vendors, thereby minimizing duplication of work associated with “cataloging” or “tagging”;
- Integrate with other systems in your organizations such as Seismic, Contracts, Accounting…etc., including proprietary software programs;
- Allow sharing of tasks between data managers;
- Enable collaboration and discussion to minimize scattered email correspondence; and,
- Automatically alert others of issues such as requests that still need to be addressed