The Oil and Gas Authority (“OGA”) has confirmed that it intends to put in place the United Kingdom’s first oil and gas National Data Repository (“NDR”) in early 2019, following largely positive industry responses to the OGA’s recent consultation on a proposed increase to the OGA levy in order to fund and maintain a UK wide NDR.
The consultation, which ran from 10 November 2017 to 8 December 2017, sought industry views on OGA’s proposed approach to help establish, fund and maintain a UK based NDR. There were 32 responses in total, with 28 of those respondents, from trade associations, service providers and academia, broadly supporting OGA’s proposal.
OGA considers that the implementation of the NDR will help satisfy a key recommendation set out in the Wood Maximising Recovery Review, published in February 2014, that “ready access to timely data is a prerequisite for a competitive market and … even more important in an industry which relies on good data to create value”. The NDR is intended to provide the access to transparent and timely petroleum related information to help achieve the principal objective of maximising economic recovery and by promoting further investment as set out in OGA’s Information Management Strategy.
OGA’s proposal is to increase the OGA levy to fund and maintain the NDR, as OGA considers it appropriate that the cost should be borne by licensees (although there may be small fees charged to non-levy players who wish to access the database). Many companies presently access the data repository operated by Common Data Access Limited (“CDA”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Oil & Gas UK, in return for a paid monthly fee. OGA expects its proposal to be broadly cost neutral as the monthly fee will be replaced by the levy increase.
OGA plans to enter into an initial two year contract with CDA, commencing on 1 January 2019 to deliver an NDR based on CDA’s existing database, given the data collection it already has in place on the UKOilandGasData.com platform. OGA will carry out a further exercise during that two year period to tender and procure a longer term arrangement to identify a provider for the new NDR service. The contract award is expected in mid-2020 with the service commencing in January 2021.
The industry’s responses to OGA’s consultation also raised a few issues which OGA has recognised are pertinent questions, while not falling directly within the scope of the consultation. OGA has indicated it is considering those further and will respond separately as appropriate. For example, if there is to be an NDR, the question arises as to how that might impact the separate obligation of licensees to retain information and samples – OGA has indicated it intends to address that question in its response to the separate OGA consultation on proposed regulations for the retention and disclosure of information and samples. OGA now aims to publish that consultation response in the course of April 2018.
OGA’s consultation on the levy increase to fund the NDR can be found here, and its response issued on 4 April 2018 can be found here.