Netting the benefits

Data about activity on the NCS is updated daily on the NPD’s website, and this information attracts many hits during a working day. Regular users include industry veterans and newcomers as well as consultants preparing analyses and reports.
  • Astri Sivertsen and Emile Ashley (photo)

This picture shows a 20-centimetre cross section of a Middle Jurassic delta sand from the Gullfaks field in the North Sea.

More than half of Norway’s petroleum resources are held in sandstones laid down in river deltas 190-164 million years ago. This picture shows a 20-centimetre cross section of a Middle Jurassic delta sand from the Gullfaks field in the North Sea. It hails from a depth of 2 034 metres in well 34/10-A-8.


One of Kirsten Gramstad’s first acts when she starts work at Statoil’s offices outside Stavanger is to bring the NPD’s opening view up on her PC, where it usually stays for the rest of the day.

“This is the reference point for what we do,” says the geology and geophysics coordinator.

Her “we” includes colleague Knut B Hjelle and the others in the Norwegian oil company working with strategy and business development on the NCS.

Ms Gramstad uses the website to see, for instance, who has rights to what off Norway before exchanging information about wells and fields with other companies seeking data.

She also checks where seismic surveys are planned and when the results of earlier shooting will be made public. And she often consults the site for legislation and statutory regulations.

“And we use the fantastic electronic map on the site many times in the course of the day,” she enthuses.

Mr Hjelle adds that the NPD’s material forms the basis for a number of Statoil’s internal reporting systems. “We extract information and ensure that our own database accords with it.

“This provides an invaluable tool, since it’s the only place where we can get a complete overview of activity on the NCS from the earliest days of the industry to the present time.”



Even a company which operates about 75 per cent of petroleum production from the NCS finds it hard to keep track, says Mr Hjelle, a geophysicist who has spent 34 years with Statoil.

“The NPD deserves every credit for keeping its website updated at virtually all times,” he says. “There’s an incredibly short time lag between a decision being taken and its registration.”

According to Mr Hjelle, the NPD’s data and maps are used consciously in all work to do with planning, strategy and reporting in Statoil.

Management, from chief executive Helge Lund down, use its figures and graphs in presentations and speeches internally and around the world.

“Even our reporting to the New York Stock Exchange is based on counting methods derived from the NPD,” Mr Hjelle reports.

A few kilometres away stand the Norwegian headquarters of Total, one of the biggest foreign players on the NCS in terms of licence holdings and reserves approved for production.

Licence and portfolio coordinator Robert P Johannessen – another geophysicist – at the French oil and gas company also keeps a daily eye on the NPD’s website.

Like his Statoil counterparts, he uses its data to monitor activity on the NCS and as a tool to create presentational materials.

“This information has a high degree of credibility in our organisation,” he says. “When the NPD is cited as the source on an overhead, it’s an acknowledgement that the facts are correct.”

Usually spending only threefour years in Norway, Total’s foreign employees are constantly turning to Mr Johannessen for data on wells, reserves, production, NCS activities by other companies and so forth.

“They appreciate getting quick answers, and it’s largely because of the NPD website that I can give fast feedback,” he says.

When these personnel ask where he has found the information, and learn that it comes from the agency, they rest content.

Another important consideration for him is that the NPD figures represent the official data, so that companies can relate to a common platform both in-house and between each other.

Working for an international group, Mr Johannessen collects data from sources in many countries and feels that much of what is openly available in Norway remains secret elsewhere.

On the UK continental shelf, for instance, virtually all you can get to learn about wells being drilled is the name and location.

“You’re usually able to interpret what’s going on,” he says. “But you don’t obtain the facts, and have to spend a lot of time getting hold of information.”



Mr Johannessen believes that governments in other countries have much to learn from Norwegian openness – a view shared by one of the newcomers to the NCS, Faroe Petroleum Norge (FPN).

This company was founded in the Faroes in 1997, but became British in 2002. It holds shares in 19 production licences on the NCS and has a head office in Stavanger.

British geologist Jayne Roberts is responsible for data at FPN. Since the company has interests in both Norwegian and British west of Shetland licences, she can compare information availability between the two countries.

“The material on the NPD website is much better than the details you find in the UK,” she says. “The NPD’s data are more precise and standardised.“

There’s a great deal of information and it’s better organised. When I’m looking for facts, I almost always start by searching the site.”

Being able to download the data in the form of a spreadsheet is also very positive, she says. It makes life much easier when she has to put together a presentation at short notice.

Two other newcomers – Spring Energy and the Norwegian subsidiary of Italy’s Edison International – also appreciate the information made available by the NPD.

The first of these is a two-year-old Norwegian company with 24 staff in Oslo and interests in 24 licences, while Edison has 15 people in Stavanger and a handful of interests on the NCS after three years.

Sissel Melgaard and Anne-Brit Ramse, as data managers at Spring Energy and Edison respectively, ensure that colleagues get the information they need.

When asked about their relationship with the NPD website, they both acknowledge that it is used very frequently – up to several times a day.

Demand is greatest for information on wells, says Ms Melgaard. Her company’s geologists are interested, for instance, in images of cores from wells made public.

They also want to know whether new formation tops have been identified in wells currently being drilled, while data on current seismic surveys is also high on the list.

The financial staff also make much use of the site to ensure that they have the latest company information – should the opportunity arise to swap licence holdings, for instance.

“If you’re in any doubt, this is the best place to come,” says Ms Melgaard. She downloads data from the NPD to Spring Energy’s own systems so that its geologists can interpret it.

At Edison, Ms Ramse uses the site to keep informed about wells, seismic surveys and general news on the NCS. She does not download the data, but searches for material as required.

“The NPD is responsible for updating this information,” she says. “So we don’t want to put it on our systems and then have to check for updates ourselves. The NPD’s database is ours.”



The oil companies are the heaviest users of the NPD’s information, reports Jan Bygdevoll, its director for forecasting, analyses and data and the man ultimately responsible for the site content.

In addition come consultancy companies involved in the oil sector, he adds. They take the NPD’s data and combine it with input from other sources to create saleable products.

Examples of the latter are Rystad Energy and Acona Wellpro. Jarand Rystad, founder and head of the first of these, willingly describes the NPD’s databases as “best practice” globally.

“We know quite a bit about that, because we’ve developed a database of all the world’s oil and gas fields,” he explains. “We interact with every government and more than 1 000 companies, which gives us a good basis for making quality judgements.”

Asked what sort of information his company downloads from the NPD, Mr Rystad responds: “Everything. Wells, production, reserves, acreage – the lot.”

He praises the data structure for its clarity in terms of location and the format in which the information is posted, and for its very good quality.

The fact that the NPD material goes right back to 1966 is another plus in his view. “It’s succeeded in entering all the oil data in a systematic manner.”

Information his consultancy gets from the NPD is packaged with material from other sources and made available as databases through the services he sells.

Clients include oil companies, service providers, investors and government agencies, mainly in northern Europe, seeking advice on business and strategic development and help with acquisitions.

Formerly with Britain’s Wood Mackenzie, Mr Rystad would have liked even more information from the NPD, and points to forecasts and projections kept outside the public databases.

“But that’s OK, really, because we have to provide a good deal of value added on our own account which is incorporated in the services we offer.”



Kjell-Are Vassmyr, vice president for new business areas at Acona Wellpro, has just launched the Arctic Web geoportal, which incorporates the bulk of the NPD’s data.

In addition comes other official information on environmental and economic conditions, weather, infrastructure and emergency preparedness along and off the Norwegian coast.

This facility is a result of the project- oriented Demo 2000 technology development programme organised by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and the Research Council of Norway.

Created with backing from six oil companies, Arctic Web is intended to serve as a planning tool for people working on emergency preparedness or environmental analyses.

It can also support work on various planned offshore activities such as exploration drilling or field development, Mr Vassmyr explains.

He describes the quality of NPD information as good. “We’ve assessed all the various data owners, and it’s no secret that we’re very enthusiastic about the agency’s presentation. We’re impressed by both its quality and response time.”

Access to Arctic Web is currently free, and Acona Wellpro markets it to universities, research institutes, local authorities, county councils and ministries.

A number of these potential users actually own the data accessible through the portal, but may not be aware of their existence.

“We compare material from the NPD with other information,” says Mr Vassmyr. “It’s not necessarily the agency’s job to either collect or provide. But we make its data available to users who may not normally access its website.” 


“Even our reporting to the New York Stock Exchange is based on counting methods derived from the NPD.”

Knut B Hjelle, Statoil