Facts at his fingertips

Access to information is the key to finding more oil and gas in mature areas of the NCS, and the NPD established its Diskos database 20 years ago to provide this. Kjell Reidar Knudsen has been involved all the way.

| Alf Inge Molde and Emile Ashley (photos)

Kjell Reidar Knudsen

Past and present.
The big rolls of paper and film in the NPD’s vaults contain the information needed to find the giants on the NCS – Ekofisk, Gullfaks, Statfjord and Troll. Worth billions of kroner, this information is all in electronic databases today.


Seismic data which cost several billion kroner to secure is still stored as rolls of paper or film on many metres of shelving in the vaults at the NPD’s Stavanger offices.

“But they’re now actually valueless,” says Knudsen as he walks through this massive archive. “Everything’s been entered in Diskos.”

A certain awe nevertheless attaches to this store, which holds all the data needed to find offshore giants such as Ekofisk, Gullfaks, Statfjord and Troll.

Everything is contained in these rolls – worth their weight in gold to those who can interpret them, Greek to the rest of us.

Activity used to be hectic in the vaults, since the oil companies are required to supply the NPD with copies of all their raw seismic and drilling data.

All the partners in a licence could come and ask for copies, too, and this was supplemented by purchase, sale and swap agreements.

“We used to have a lot of staff who were employed solely on this work,” Knudsen recalls. “Things are considerably simpler today.”


Kjell Reidar Knudsen

Enormous progress.
Kjell Reidar Knudsen has long been involved with data management.



And few people know the history better than this man, who joined the first reservoir engineering course at what is now the University of Stavanger in 1971.

Following two years on a couple of water drilling projects in Africa, Knudsen joined the NPD in 1977 after writing his first – and last – job application.

He became interested in data management at an early stage, and was also the first NPD staffer to build a reservoir simulation model – in this case for Ekofisk.

It consisted of three layers and 350 blocks, created partially with the aid of millimetre paper, and with the calculations carried out on an IBM mainframe by Rogalandsdata.

Knudsen was later involved in simulating the Statfjord field at then operator Mobil’s Dallas offices. By then, hundreds of thousands of blocks were involved.

He subsequently became section head for reservoir technology and later production technology, and took charge of the NPD’s data management department when it was established in 1990.

The latter ensured that internal handling of information became more streamlined, and one result was the high-quality log data (HQLD) project.

This involved scanning in all the material contained on tape and paper by a specialist in Wales and storing it on eight-millimetre cassettes.



Data stored in Diskos becomes accessible to all its members once the period of confidentiality has expired. Raw data from wells and seismic surveys provided by licences are secret for two years, seismic results from companies for five, speculative seismic surveys for 10 and data interpretations for 20.



Seven to 10 of these little tapes could hold a lorryload of data, Knudsen recalls. It cost NOK 15 million to digitise and quality-control information from the 750 wells drilled on the NCS up to 1994.

The HQLD was the forerunner of the Diskos database, whose first members were Statoil, Norsk Hydro, Saga Petroleum and Mobil in addition to the NPD.

Others joined later, and it currently has 57 members and 19 associates. A number of universities and non-commercial research organisation also have access to its open information.

Members of Diskos can access their own data and material belonging to licences where they are a partner. They can also buy, sell and swap information through the system.

But all the material ultimately become available to every member once the period of confidentiality has expired. And that is sooner than one might think.

Raw data from wells and seismic surveys provided by licences are confidential for two years, seismic results from companies for five, speculative seismic surveys for 10 and data interpretations for 20.

After that, the material becomes freely available. Its accessibility means that the companies do not have to spend time searching for information.

Instead, they can start interpretation at once. And the company which is best at this activity wins. That benefits both the companies and the Norwegian taxpayer.


Knudsen says that many people can claim a share of the honour of making Diskos what it has become today, including project manager Eric Toogood and his deputy, Elin Aabø Lorentzen.

But he continues to play an important role, and has served as chair of the Diskos management committee and steering group from the start.

Since 2000, he has also travelled the world to talk about Diskos and help new oil nations with the work of managing their data.

That has taken him a number of times to such countries as Nigeria, Vietnam, East Timor, Mozambique, Angola, Madagascar, Uganda, China, the Philippines and Japan.

Not all of them are as well placed to succeed as Norway. But building up a shared register of all information – with a common terminology – is very important. If Knudsen had his way, a global standard would have been established.



When Diskos was created, it was dimensioned for four terabytes of data and the memory used cost several million kroner. Such drives currently cost a couple of thousand kroner.

That price reduction is just as well. Diskos will probably contain more than two petabytes, or 2 000 terabytes, by 31 December this year.

To put this in perspective, the average coding for an MP3 music file on a mobile phone is about one megabyte per minute. Playing a petabyte of music non-stop would take 2 000 years.


Norwegian Continental Shelf no.2-2015

Main page - Contents
Bente Nyland on the NCS: Glass is half-full
The interview: Petroleum minister calls on companies to invest
Thinking outside the box made Maria’s development possible
Special report: 50 years
Norway’s offshores sector safer than before
Safety carries a cost
Seeking to cut documentation Eldar Myhre and son Aslak discuss what oil has done with Norway Making huge volumes of offshore data available
Adding up to acclaim
Rockshot: Tight formations
Geology: Many benefits for society
www.norskpetroleum.no: Find facts about the NCS