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National data repository in India

Thursday, June 25, 2015

India has a project to build a National Data Repository (NDR) - but is there enough support to make the project work?

The government of India has provided funding for a National Data Repository (NDR), with a 6 year contract awarded to Halliburton on Feb 2014, covering one year to set the centre up, and five years for operation, said Chandan Kumar Bahman, Superintending Engineer (IT) with the Indian Directorate General of Hydrocarbons.

He was speaking at the Digital Energy Journal forum in Mumbai on February 4, "Doing More with E+P Data".

Over the five years, the NDR is expected to take 1008 2D surveys, 528 3D surveys, data for 8,400 wells, 16,800 well reports and 33,600 scanned logs.

The NDR is defined as a "a government sponsored data bank to preserve and disseminate upstream oil and gas information and data in order to promote and regulate hydrocarbon exploration and development activities," he said.

The data can include seismic data, well logs, g+g data, cultural data (well header data, blocks, basins), production data and archives.

Efforts to develop the NDR started a number of years ago, but "many regions did not take off as expected," he said. "We did not get the kind of co-operation from the operators [we wanted]."

"If the basic work is not done, then the final work will be very difficult to achieve."

About DGH

DGH is the oil and gas regulatory body in India, established in 1993, under the administrative control of India's Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

It provides technical advice to the Ministry, reviews exploration programs and advises the government on offering acreage. It has a mandate is to regulate the "preservation, upkeep and storage of samples pertaining to petroleum exploration."

DGH's role includes preparing data, requesting bids, evaluating bids, awarding blocks, and keeping an eye during exploration and development. The bid evaluation aims to be as transparent as possible.

DGH manages all kinds of data including structured data (e.g. financial and production data), semi structured (field development programs, test results, regulatory clearances) and non-structured (correspondence, reports, documents and legal data).

India has been drilling oil and gas since 1889, but started to open up in 1991 and further in 1999, with its 'New Exploration Licensing Policy' (NELP).

Before NELP only 28 blocks had been offered to non-government owned companies, but during NELP 360 blocks were offered and 282 were awarded. Of India's 810 total discoveries, 200 have been made under NELP, he said.

DGH does not make decisions about rules for seismic data leaving the country - these decisions are made by the Ministry, he said. "Most of the time we don't have any say on this - we simply need to forward this to the Ministry," he said. "Honestly speaking, yes, this is an issue."

The best way to build it

Ashok Tyagi, general manager of the Indian School of Petroleum and Energy, and a former General manager (Exploration), Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), suggested four models the NDR could be built by.

Model 1 is where the government dictates and drives the project, forcing oil companies to provide data, which is then used in subsequent licensing rounds.

Model 2 is where the project is initiated by government but supported by oil companies, where some oil companies use it to share data between each other where they have sharing agreements.

Model 3 is where the system is driven both by oil companies and government, where the system is built in a similar way to oil companies' internal data management systems, and can rely on this system as a back-up if they lose their own data.

Model 4, Mr Tyagi's preferred solution, where the data is still stored by the oil companies but available on demand, but they submit metadata to the national data repository. This means that users of the NDR can easily search to see what is available, and retrieve what they need. Mr Tyagi said this was his preferred option, particularly as the security issues would be comparatively easier, and it would be easier to start.

This also means that the data is only stored in one place, so there is no complex data replication challenge.


From an oil companies' perspective, a NDR will enable them to gain information on demand, reducing the time spent finding data. It will also help them to interact with other oil companies, service companies and the government, Mr Tyagi said.

From the government's point of view, a NDR will help the government make sure it is maximising its royalties, and also help attract investment to India, by being able to provide prospective oil companies with better information.


Key issues to resolve are working out the specific objectives of government / regulators and also of the Indian upstream industry, Mr Tyagi said.

Oil companies might use it just as a place to send the required data, or they might use it more actively.

In order to make sure it works, oil companies need to accept that their data is a national asset, but also their perspectives need to be borne in mind, he said.

There could be a minimum 'core' service and additional services to meet companies' specific needs.

There needs to be a mutually worked out cost model. The project needs to be financed, and steps need to be taken to ensure it can work long term.

There should be a 'cost committee', with representation from operators, governments, the service provider and an independent financial institution, he said.

The companies involved need to decide on the legal, data security, commercial, operational and technical framework.

Someone needs to work out the data model, the data flows and the workflows, he said.
Data could be provided in Energistics standard formats, including WITSML, ProdML and RESQML.

The components of the NDR include a core data model, data loading / exporting tools, quality control tools, search engines and data integration tools.

The regulators should provide rules as a foundation for how the NDR is used, and then define the reporting schedules, reporting standards, routines for release of data, and how the system should be developed over time. There could be tax relief to oil companies which join the NDR.

Service organisations can have the role of choosing the technology and processes for quality control, data storage, retrieval and data distribution, and develop procedures for data handling.

It would be useful to look at other examples from around the world, including Norway's DISKOS and the UK's Common Data Access, he said.

Pranaya Sangvai

Pranaya Sangvai, Cauvery Basin Business Unit Head with Reliance Industries Ltd, also at the conference, said he was very interested in India's Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) project to develop a national data repository (NDR).

But there still seems to be a lack of 'intent' to develop it, he said.

"The intent has to be there, and the intent is missing," he said.

Part of it is that companies are afraid of losing control of their data, something which they have just kept to themselves for decades, he said.

View Mr Barman's talk on video and download slides at

View Mr Tyagi's talk on video and download slides at

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