The Calgary Geoscience Data Management Society (CGDMS) has a mission to provide online resources, learning events and networking opportunities for Calgary GeoScience Data Managers, and to foster the exchange of ideas, resources and expertise.

The CGDMS provides information about data and data policies and is happy to assist in any way it can. We have considerable content on our website as a resource to our members –

This is the first of a series of columns from CGDMS.

Data management can seem straightforward – get the data, interpret the data, make money from the use of the data. Simple, right? Not so fast!

This article will focus exclusively on well data. Future articles will deal with other types of data and the importance of data integrity.

Well data permeates an entire organization: it’s used by geologists, engineers, geophysicists, petrophysicists, and the list goes on. Data integrity is key to making successful decisions. The old saying “garbage in, garbage out” has never been truer. The immense power of information technology means that people can generate “garbage” from inaccurate data at break-neck speeds. An accurate and well-populated database is merely the price of admission to modern search engine techniques. As we move forward to include more diverse energy solutions, we sometimes find that not all the required data has been collected or “managed” properly. There is so much more to data management than being librarians and just cataloguing, storing, and retrieving data. The industry is shifting to ensure better data integrity management, data science, and data analysis. The right Data Manager makes this easier.

How Confident Are You About Your Data Integrity?

Are your kelly bushing elevations (KBs) correct? What happens if you are using an incorrect KB in your cross-section because the data was stored using a proposed KB and not the actual surveyed KB?

Are you using correct and consistent units of measurement throughout your projects?

Are you using the correct and common survey? Are you confident that the datum in the survey is the same as the one used in your project? There are few things worse than having to explain to Management why drilling results are less than expected, due to decisions being made on incorrect survey information.

What about versioning? Is the log ASCII standard (LAS) data in its original format, or has it been enhanced? Has someone corrected the sonic log for washouts? Can you tell which is the “enhanced” version and which is the original?

Log runs are often merged. This is an interpretive process and is open to manual manipulation. What if the wrong log runs get sutured in the composite log?

Does your company have a defined taxonomy for the data, and are you familiar with the way things are done? Do your microseismic and vertical seismic profile (VSP) data get stored with the wells, or with the seismic data? Then, are they cross-referenced in another database? Are there parts of the data that follow separate rules?

Is there a core description database that tells you if there is a core at some geological interval? Can you see the core description by going to a designated folder?

Where did you get the data? Are you aware of the implications of cancelling a licensing contract with a third-party supplier following a corporate merger? Who is the owner of the data and what are your obligations to them, if your company’s situation changes? Often, LAS log digits are leased, so what happens to them when a contract is terminated? Does the company have to stop using those log digits? Where is this data stored in your organization, and how many copies do you have?

What is the workflow for well data in your company? Has this data been shown in presentations to management, shareholders, or investors? Do you know, at a moment’s notice, the data value and/or liability issues?

Does your organization manage and archive interpretations by geoscientists who have moved on to new areas of interest, or who have left the company? The company has paid for the time and expertise of the interpreting geoscientist, and may have made decisions based on their recommendations, so it seems counter-productive to lose access to this information by having it stored somewhere on an insecure shared drive, or lost in an archive that has no database and map to retrieve the project.

These are a just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself, as a geoscientist using the data. Some organizations are fortunate enough to have a designated group of specialists, or a whole department, dealing with these complex data management and data governance issues.

Here are some suggested best practices:

  1. Your organization may want to have a master repository for your well data. Ideally, the ability to add, delete and change data in the repository should be restricted to designated custodians. Other users can view and use the data but not make changes to the master copy. As more data is acquired (or enhanced) it can be added to the master repository.
  2. Have a consistent taxonomy – a folder structure and file naming standard for the well data in your repository, whether it is internal or in the “cloud”. It is helpful to cross-reference wells where the name has been changed from the original spud name. Be aware that a regulating body may change the way wells are named to meet future requirements. The Professional Petroleum Data Management Association (PPDM) has information on potential well name changes.
  3. Know where your data came from:
    • Did your company drill the well? Were there partners?
    • Did you purchase/acquire the data from a regulatory body, such as the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)?
    • Did you acquire the data through a corporate transaction?  Did you purchase a license to use the data from a service/data provider?
    • Unknown

      These are important considerations, as they tell you whether your data is raw or enhanced, where you may need to look if your data is not complete, and what you can do with the data in the event of your organization making changes in ownership, license agreements, etc.
  4. Do you have microseismic and VSP data? These are managed in the same way as seismic data, with respect to licensing and income potential. This data is not automatically turned over to the regulating body, and the right to use the data is negotiated with the owner of the data. The question is, where is the best place to store the microseismic data in your organization: with the well data or with the seismic data? It is crucial to keep all data required to process (or reprocess) the microseismic data, and to know which well is being fracked and which is doing the recording. Develop a consistent naming standard in your organization for your microseismic. It may be beneficial to store the data with the well files, as well as in your seismic repository.
  5. Be aware of the implications of cancelling a licensing contract with a data provider following a corporate merger. You may have data that has been downloaded from the providers directly to your internal system, or into interpretation packages. While maintaining the licence, you may continue to use their data, however you do not own this data! Each of the data providers gets the data from the regulatory body or the data owner, then adds value to it before providing it to their customers. Enhancements may include digitizing old curves, merging curves, quality checking the data, removing spikes, etc. When you pay a data provider for this data, what you are really paying for is the ease of finding this data and the enhancements that have been done.

    Alternatively, you can order the raw data from the regulating body, do the enhancements yourself, and then have more control over what you do with the data.

    The data providers are particularly good at tracking which curves/data you have downloaded from their repositories, and billing you accordingly. Should you decide not to continue paying for a license to use the data, you will need to remove all the data from your system, as specified in the terms of the license agreement, including backup copies, copies stored in your interpretation packages, and anywhere else it is being used. Keep in mind that data, for a given well, downloaded from one provider, may not be exactly the same as data downloaded from another. Will this affect the way your interpretation projects merge? It is so important that you know where your data came from.

    When organizations go through corporate transactions – mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, bankruptcies etc. – there are considerations on how data from each provider must be managed. It is wise to consider each of the legal contracts when a corporate transaction occurs. A merger or acquisition usually happens when a company wishes to expand a core working property, so duplicate copies of the well data are likely to exist. This may also be a time when software and interpretation packages, belonging to or leased by the acquired company, are re-evaluated. Knowing where the data has come from will be valuable in determining which duplicate licensed data you don’t need anymore and which data you need to keep.
  6. There are many solution providers to assist you with making sure you have accessible, high-quality data to use in your analyses and interpretations. Data integrity and completeness is paramount if you want to make good quality decisions. Each solution provider has its specialties and is there to help. To get the best fit for you and your organization, be prepared to compare apples to apples (services vs. cost) when determining the best solution provider. Take the time to evaluate and make the decision that best fits you. Read their contracts and know your obligations.

Good data management and data governance may not be rocket science, but if it is done correctly and consistently, it can save time and money. Engaging a good Data Manager to assist with your data governance plan is a cost-effective way of keeping your scientists moving forward and finding energy, instead of searching for and cleaning up data!


Denise Freeland

Denise Freeland

Denise Freeland’s career has “transitioned” many times within the oil and gas industry. She received a Geophysical Certificate from S.A.I.T. early in her career and has continuously expanded her skillset, including roles in environmental assessment, seismic survey audit, geophysical mapping and cross-sections, seismic database creation and maintenance, IBM data dictionary analyst, seismic operations front-end support, seismic data clean-up and archiving, client account management, team leader, seismic and geological data loading, well database clean-up, and seismic database integration. It has always been about the data!

Denise has a passion for her many volunteer roles and has been involved with the Calgary Geoscience Data Managers Society since its inception in 2008, and is currently serving as President. She has also volunteered with the CSEG as a Mentor, and on the “Geotechnical Support Committee” where she participated in teaching a course for data managers at DoodleTrain. Denise looks forward to new challenges and solutions with emerging energy technologies.



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