dti Oil and Gas Directorate








As the oil industry starts to realise the benefits of eCommerce the traditional methods of data exchange and the lack of data exchange standards are hindering take-up. These issues are particularly prevalent in the E&P side of the industry where a number of ad hoc systems have evolved over the years.

The process of informing partners, contractors and Regulators about simple data sets such as basic well header information in a consistent manner has never been resolved. Considerable costs arise across the industry trying to verify that information for a well is in fact for the correct well.

This process is not helped when the method of Data Reporting to Regulators differs in almost every oil province for what is essentially the same data. Many reporting systems are still paper based.

The advent of the web as a transport mechanism for data and XML as a data definition language provides an opportunity to resolve these issues.

Can there be a generic solution when there are different cultures in the different oil provinces ? Some Regulators may wish to be very prescriptive, some will have a consultative approach and others may simply monitor what is going on.

It would be easy for the UK government, for example, to define a set of tags for well header data and mandate their use. This is no use to anyone else unless they copied the UK. What is required is something generic that has wide applicability, even if not fulfilling all requirements in every oil province.


The proposal is to work with a wide spectrum of players in more than one geographical location to define a generic Well Header ML AND IMPORTANTLY, as part of the project, to incorporate the specification into business processes.


The overall goal is to prove that a wide cross section of players in the oil industry can not only COLLABORATE in the development of XML standards but can quickly IMPLEMENT these standards.

The focus for this work should be in an area that will deliver benefits and be of a size that will allow quick results.

Consequently for well header data the goal is to define a standard and get it used by :

  • at least 2 National Data Repositories or Regulatory Bodies
  • at least 2 significant commercial applications


  • A generic Well Header ML definition in an open standard that can be used anywhere.
  • Style sheets for specific geographic locations.
  • A UK based process for using the ML in defined business processes.
  • A set of standard reference entities that support the requirements.
  • Change control and version control mechanisms


Some work has already be done in this area. A workshop was held in the British Geological Society in London on 1st December 2000. A first cut WellHeaderML was built in an afternoon. A further few days work at the UK DTI and POSC in Houston refined this first cut. DTI were then able after a few hours to produce a style sheet that delivered from their internal system the Well Header form currently in use in the UK.

Building a generic WellHeaderML is not a technical problem. It is a management and facilitation issue.

We are seeking at least two geograhically separated areas within which to conduct this work Ideally these areas will be different in terms of government culture and type of oil province.

One area already identified is the UK. This is a mature oil province, mostly off-shore with a relatively hands-off regulatory approach.

A kick-off meeting will be held in Aberdeen at which as many key players as possible will be asked to attend.

We need to agree boundaries of the work early on, make them small and not change them.

We need to define how the project will proceed. There should be very few face to face meetings. Most of the work can be conducted on the web.

Presentation of the results is very important. The specifications must be very easy to understand and use.

Facilitation and marketing of this project is the key role.

Players and their roles

There are six distinct group of players and they interact as the diagram shows.

Regulatory body

DTI, NPD will also be invited from Norway

Data Repository

Oil Companies


Logging contractors

Baker Hughes

Software vendors


Standards body



The amount of technical and administrative effort wasted in E&P data management due to non-standard well naming is unquantified but real. It is rare that fully automated procedures can be allocated to any business processes that involve checking well items of any sort.

Examples of these processes are :

  • Notifying well details to an oil company by a Regulator
  • Notifying well details to a Data Repository by a Regulator
  • Specifying well details to a drilling contractor by an oil company
  • Oil company checking well details correctly recorded on logs etc
  • Delivering well logs etc correctly to a Repository

And so on.

The major benefit will be to remove a significant portion of wasted effort associated with these processes.

As the use of eCommerce grows the need for XML standards to be developed and deployed quickly will grow. This project will demonstrate that this process is possible and can be achieved globally thus reducing the likelihood of individual standards in individual locations.

Oil companies have to deal with Regulators everywhere. It is in their interest to cooperate.

Before Regulatory Bodies all go off and do their own thing an opportunity exists to deliver global solutions.

Global projects will allow costs to be shared

The Future

Where could this all lead to ?

If this project and way of working is successful then very quickly many other data sets in the E&P arena that are exchanged and could be defined in XML. These data sets include :

  • Formation tops
  • Well test data
  • Completion details
  • Well completion / final well reports
  • Seismic headers
  • Drilling data

But there are equally as many other data sets in other areas that are exchanged amongst partners or reported to Regulatory Bodies. These include :

  • Environmental data
  • Production data
  • Concession round bids
  • Abandonment processes


How do we pay for this ?

The benefits to all the players are real, are probably difficult to quantify and difficult to identify.

The major costs to most of the players will be changes to internal procedures and possible minor code changes to software. There will also be staff effort from the players involved in the standards process. All of this is assumed to be delivered "in-kind" to the project.

The project will be managed by POSC but to cover costs of facilitation, administration, management and the like it will be proposed that a sum of money per player be contributed.


POSC (Petroleum Open Standards Corporation) is the internationally connected organisation focussed on improving E&P business performance by leveraging Internet technology for oil and gas

business processes. To support Web based E&P information exchange, they collaborate with oil companies, E&P service and information suppliers, governments, and other standards bodies to produce, publish and maintain E&P information standards.

POSC's Energy eStandards are open specifications for improving E&P business performance by leveraging Internet technologies in the integration of oil and gas business processes.


POSC have as their members all of the major oil companies and software vendors. They have as board members BP, Shell, Exxon, Chevron, Halliburton and Schlumberger.

Internationally POSC have a wide range of contacts at governmental level in the US, UK, Norway, China and many others.

POSC also have contacts with other standards bodies, such as PIDX, PPDM, Open Spirit and Biztalk for Energy. .

POSC are uniquely positioned to take forward eStandards issues. They have already produced XML templates for Well Log, Production, Geophysical, Equation-of-State, and Well Schematic data types. Well Header data, key to most E&P information, is the data type most in need of improved management within and between the world's petroleum provinces. With the proliferation of data over the Web, early agreements on how to consistently capture and use these data is more urgent than ever. POSC has the people, experience and processes to help our industry establish then benefit from these agreements. The work they recently completed on Epicentre will provide an underpinning set of neutral data specifications for data exchange standards.


David Archer
Chief Executive Officer
Tel 001 713 267 5142
Email archer@posc.org

Paul Maton
Manager European Operations
Tel 00 44 1372 466 157
Email maton@posc.org

Stewart Robinson
Director of Data and IT services
Oil and Gas directorate
Tel 00 44 207 215 5165
Email stewart.robinson@dti.gsi.gov.uk



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