Energy Libraries Are a Valuable Tool
The upstream energy business, particularly exploration and production, is a creative, intellectual and knowledge-based enterprise -- and every energy industry professional knows that to compete, you need area-specific information on prior drilling and production activities, including:
- Well locations.
- Base maps.
- Results of down-hole surveys and tests.
- Open-hole well logs.
- Data on attempted completions.
- Information about abandoned wells.
- The production histories on producing wells.
Where do you find the hand written “scout” tickets about the old wells, the driller’s and geologist’s notes and files?
Where are the collections of data from companies previously active in the area and now long moved, merged or sold out of business?
In the energy industry, you must find and integrate this information with geological and engineering research to help make sound business decisions and maximize your production.
Information that defines the very foundation of your efforts to find and produce more energy for the American marketplace is collected and made available to companies large and small through the energy information libraries. Independent operators, independent and consulting geologists, engineers, landmen and others benefit daily from their membership in these libraries.
What is an energy information library?
Excluding state agency and academic collections, there are perhaps 40 of these organizations in the United States. These are typically regionally focused facilities, started by the contributions and shared materials of companies and individuals working the area, or contributions by folks retiring and leaving their data collections for others to use.
Many are non-profit organizations, some are owned and operated by professional geological societies, and others are commercially owned. All are managed for the benefit of members and their clients. They are independent-minded institutions, fiercely holding on to their hard-earned private donations and collections of truly “one-of-a-kind” and historical information.
With a few exceptions involving reciprocal use agreements, these organizations had never communicated nor interacted with the other energy libraries -- until now.
Launched from an initial meeting of several Mid-continent libraries the previous year, the 2006 Energy Libraries Conference in Tulsa brought together 32 people from 12 libraries that ranged across five states and four AAPG Sections, located from Billings, Mont., and Casper, Wyo., to Corpus Christi and Tyler, Texas.
Several critical issues facing these institutions were identified by the earlier conference group and were examined in depth at this recent conference during forums led by professional presenters, including:
- Copyrights and intellectual property basics.
- The uses of copyrighted information by lending institutions and their membership, and possible exemptions and fair use provisions applied to these materials.
- Current changing data access and utilization trends in industry.
- The preservation and security of information assets.
- “Digitization” of paper asset collections and software and hardware related to storage and retrieval of digital information.
- Defining the capital needs of these library missions, obstacles to acquiring outside capital, success factors of funding campaigns including planning, leadership and implementation of the solicitation efforts and development of appropriate capital sources.
The issue of changing data access and utilization trends in the petroleum industry is a prime consideration for energy information libraries right now. Since the collections of most energy libraries are in paper format, the pressure is on to convert historical collections to digital format. Library staffs are scrambling to identify the quickest, most cost-effective methods for scanning, indexing and storing documents for easy access, downloading and viewing.
The interface between data storage and data access is a challenge shared by all of the Energy Libraries Conference attendees. During some of the conference sessions, energy information library staff shared stories of re-writing software for a third time in response to library user feedback. For example, software rewrites were needed to accommodate split screen, side by side viewing of well logs and scout tickets.
Another challenge is the computer capacity to handle the enormous size of multiple megabyte geological information files.
Additional workshop sessions focused on the daily management and operations of the libraries; staffing and training needs; continued data acquisition; organization and maintenance; associated services provided by the library; the continuing development of communication and cooperation between these separate organizations and their forming of an energy libraries association.
Given the urgent desire for maintaining communications, forging common resources for digital uses and continued professional guidance, action plans were initiated for Web-based inter-library communications, additional joint meetings addressing specific digital archiving and technology issues and for planning of the 2007 conference and workshop which will continue to expand the number and range of libraries, including those from all AAPG Sections.
The purpose of these organizations is to assure this important historical data is preserved for future generations of geologists and other energy industry professionals and that it is accessible in the most efficient and cost effective format possible for use in effective exploration and production of energy resources.
This unique and timely conference was financially sponsored by several of the libraries and by other professional organizations, including the AAPG, AAPG Sections and local geological societies, all of whose members rely and depend upon these important energy information institutions.
There may be other libraries not mentioned in this article. If you know of other energy information libraries located in your Section or Region, please email the contact information to email@example.com.