Free flow of facts

The NPD has good reasons for posting as much information to its website as it does. Its policy is to be as open as possible.
  • Astri Sivertsen and Emile Ashley (photo)

Robert Williams (left) and Odd Kristiansen

NPD palaeontologist Robert Williams (left) and Odd Kristiansen, manager of the core repository, are visited every day by specialists seeking to study samples from almost 1 500 exploration wells drilled during 40 years of activity on the NCS.


Material about activities on the NCS is the nation’s property, explains Jan Bygdevoll, director for forecasting, analyses and data at the regulator.

When this information is spread and applied effectively, the companies can make better use of resources because things do not have to be repeated when they draw on results from others.

Operators are legally obliged to report their drilling work and seismic surveys to the NPD, and must submit data and forecasts for fields, discoveries and transport systems.

They also have to provide details on resources in each field and discovery as well as projections for production, costs and environmental emissions/discharges.



The NPD accordingly manages a huge collection of factual materials, which are held not only electronically but also physically.

That includes cores from 1 457 wells – most of those drilled for exploration purposes since offshore operations began on the NCS 40 years ago – held in a store covering 2 879 square metres.

Mr Bygdevoll reports that these samples are used on an almost daily basis. Geologists find them helpful in forming a picture of an area before possible further investigation.

The NPD’s own personnel not only receive and process all this information, but also devote considerable work to checking its quality before publishing it on the website or in other ways.

Principal engineer Alf Stensøy and colleague Magnar Haugvaldstad identify quality and accessibility as crucial if companies providing and using the data are to trust the NPD.

Many of the users download the agency’s information to their own systems in order to generate forecasts, graphs and maps.

“It’s important that this material acquires a status, a value, so that they want to use it even internally,” explains Mr Haugvaldstad.

Mr Stensøy adds that the website’s users are by no means confined to the oil companies. Many service providers are among the most active in seeking information.

“They organise their operations in line with our overview. They want to find out where and how much drilling is to take place, so that they can plan such aspects as steel procurement.”



Mr Stensøy and his colleagues receive a lot of questions from users. They talk with people every day and refer them on to other specialists if they cannot answer themselves.

The feedback function on the website is also in frequent use, and Mr Bygdevoll notes that the high level of usage represents an important quality check in itself. “If we’ve posted inaccurate data – and I’ve obviously got to admit that happens – we’re notified very quickly,” he says, and adds that the NPD has internal processes to check accuracy.

“A relationship of trust prevails between us and the companies,” he says. “They release data on the understanding that it will be presented in a correct manner.”

The first version of the NPD web was implemented in 1999. A growing volume of information has been posted since then, and presented in new ways as technological advances permit.

Every day, the site is visited by almost 1 700 users. Between 33 and 50 per cent of these go directly to the factual material and the map.



Mapping an important part of the NPD’s internet service, and derives from the large wall map it produces to chart all production licences on the NCS.

The electronic version of this overview has been expanded with information about exploration and production wells and other field data.

NPD system developer Hans Stokka explains that all the content on the map is synchronised with the factual material posted to the web – allowing it to updated simultaneously.

Data from the site are downloadable as spreadsheets, and people can search the NCS with the aid of Google Maps. All information is currently updated once a day, but continuous updating will soon be possible.

When a completely new version of the website was launched in the The Norwegian oil model autumn of 2009, the NPD was criticised by another government agency because users do not need to log on and have a password.

“But the whole point of our data is that it will be available free of charge and easily accessible to the whole Norwegian oil industry,” emphasises Mr Stokka.