Catalogue description Department of Energy and Department of Trade and Industry: Oil and Gas Directorate: North Sea Geographical Information System (GIS) dataset

Search within or browse this series to find specific records of interest.

Date range

Details of EG 17
Reference: EG 17
Title: Department of Energy and Department of Trade and Industry: Oil and Gas Directorate: North Sea Geographical Information System (GIS) dataset

The North Sea Geographical Information System (GIS) datasets were created by the Oil and Gas Directorate of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), providing the geophysical and licensing analysis of the United Kingdom's Oil and Gas exploration. The datasets contain spatial data locating oil and gas field boundaries and pipelines and are used regularly by such entities as the British Geological Survey, Schlumberger Geoquest and Asset Geoscience Ltd. Other users include oil companies, central and local government, data supply companies and other national governments.

The series contains six datasets: one covering 1992-2000 and five annual snapshots from 2002.

The datasets in this series are available to download. Links to individual datasets can be found at piece level.

Date: 1992-2007

Operating System: Windows NT. 2004 onwards: Windows XP

Application Software: Software used included ESRI Arcinfo and XGEO (a seismic database and mapping system capable of handling the high volumes of geological and geophysical data required for exploration mapping and field development studies). By 2004, the Department were using ESRI Arcinfo v 7.1. ESRI ArcMap v 8.3 was also being used to process the data by this time. By the time of the 2006 dataset, the Department were using ESRI ArcGIS v 9.0.

Logical structure and schema: The datasets have been populated by direct entry to ArcInfo through forms or digitising. They are edited and saved as ArcInfo coverages. ArcView uses these coverages for map display and cartographic output or to create a shapefile. The exception to this occurs when oilfield (spatial) data is imported from the XGEO system as an ASCII file. ArcInfo builds this .dat file into a coverage ready for editing.

Dynamic or closed: Most of the geophysical data is overwritten unless it pertains to a legal document (i.e. where a boundary is drawn around a field shape to calculate tax). Data on the licensing system is not overwritten. Licence data is continually changing as companies buy/sell/share areas in the North Sea. The most recent position is displayed on the GIS system and on the licensing database, but all previous transactions (both spatial and text files) are kept on the system.

How data was originally captured and validated: Data was input via on-screen forms, transfers from other computer systems, and via digitisers.

Validation performed after transfer: Details of the content and transformation validation checks performed by NDAD staff on each dataset are contained in the catalogues of individual datasets.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in The National Archives: CRDA/26
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Department of Energy, Petroleum Production Division, 1974-1992

Department of Trade and Industry, Oil and Gas Directorate, 1992-2007

Physical description: 8 datasets and documentation
Restrictions on use: The North Sea Geographical Information System (GIS) dataset is subject to Crown Copyright; copies may be made for private study and research purposes only.
Access conditions: Open
Immediate source of acquisition:

In 2010 the United Kingdom National Digital Archive of Datasets

Custodial history: Originally transferred from the Department of Trade and Industry, Oil and Gas Directorate. The United Kingdom National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD) then held the datasets until 2010 when they were transferred to The National Archives (TNA).
Accruals: Further accruals are not anticipated.
Publication note:

Copies of Development of the Oil and Gas Resources of the UK, also known as 'The Brown Book', dating from 1999 onwards, were transferred with the datasets.

Unpublished finding aids:

Extent of documentation: 2 volumes, 3 documents, 99 electronic documents, Dates of creation of documentation: 1992-2006

Administrative / biographical background:

Petroleum has been produced in small quantities on the UK mainland for centuries. The first commercial find of petroleum was in 1918 in Nottinghamshire. Wytch Farm in Dorset, the first major onshore oil field in the UK was discovered in 1973 and is now the largest onshore oil field in Western Europe. The first significant discovery of offshore gas, in the West Sole Field, was made in 1965. Development of the North Sea fields began in the mid-1960s. By the beginning of 2000, there were 109 oil fields, 87 gas fields and 16 condensate fields in production offshore.

By the start of 2000, a total of some 2,445 million tonnes of oil and 1410 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas had been produced from UK fields. Despite the maturity of the United Kingdom and its Continental Shelf as a petroleum province, there was still potential for further activity in both mature and frontier areas. The Government was keen to maximise the economic level of exploration and development so that additional oil and gas reserves could be proved and developed to replace those that were being depleted. The 'Brown Book', the Department of Trade and Industry's annual report on the development of oil and gas resources, provides estimates of the discovered recoverable reserves, potential additional reserves and undiscovered recoverable reserves for both oil and gas.

Legislative framework for Licences: The Petroleum Act 1998, which consolidated a number of provisions previously contained in five separate pieces of primary legislation (including the Petroleum (Production) Act 1934), vests ownership of oil and gas within Great Britain and its territorial sea in the Crown and gives the Government rights to grant licences to explore for, and exploit, these resources, and those on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). The designated area of the UKCS has been refined over the years by a series of designations under the Continental Shelf Act 1964, following the conclusion of boundary agreements with neighbouring states, the most recent being the agreement reached with the Faroe Islands in May 1999.

Regulations re-enacted under the 1998 Act set out how applications for licences may be made and specify the Model Clauses to be incorporated into the licences. The regulations currently in force are the Petroleum (Production) (Seaward Areas) Regulations 1988 as amended by the Petroleum (Production) (Seaward Areas) Amendment Regulations 1990, 1992, 1995 and 1996 for offshore licences; and the Petroleum (Production) (Landward Areas) Regulations 1995 for onshore licences.

All applications for production licences are assessed against the same criteria. Decisions about licence awards take account of the applicant's financial, technical and environmental capabilities as well as the geological rationale for the application, and the proposed work programme that will be carried out in the event of a licence being granted.

Licence Types: The terms of licences vary according to whether they cover Seaward or Landward areas. The terms, duration and relinquishment requirements, as set out in the licensing regulations, vary between Licensing Rounds and are dependent on the amount of exploration and development that has already taken place in the area of the acreage on offer. Whilst applications for Landward and Seaward Licences are assessed on the basis of the same criteria, the respective licensing rounds are held separately.

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research