More information about the NHDA

Photograph of the drilling ship Whitethorn. Used for exploratory drilling during the early phases of oil exploration in the North Sea

The NHDA is one of several measures adopted by PILOT to stimulate oil & gas exploration and development in the UK.

DECC strongly encourages Licensees to make the archiving of Licence Data with the NHDA a standard operating procedure as part of relinquishment of a Licence or COP of a Field (to benefit from the knowledge and input of the asset team before they are dispersed), and also to address the archiving of legacy Licence Data.

The regulatory context

Under the terms of the Petroleum Act 1998, and the Licences granted thereunder, Licensees are obliged to hold accurate records (Licence Data) in order to preserve all information about the geology of the licensed area.

Licence Data is the collective term for all information related to the operations conducted by Licensees in a Licence which DECC (or its agents) can request. In general terms, this means all information associated with Licences, Fields, wells and seismic surveys. DECC requirements and Licensees’ obligations for Licence Data are described in DECC Petroleum Operations Notice PON9.

The responsibility to retain Licence Data in an accurate and useable form in perpetuity resides jointly and severally with those Licensees which are party to the Licence under which the Licence Data was acquired. This obligation survives the life of the Licence and the Joint Operating Agreement. The Licence Operator may act on behalf of all Licensees for a Licence in fulfilling the Licensees’ duties. However, DECC reserves the right to look to any individual Licensee to fulfil its Licence Data obligations independently.

The NHDA offers the only way for Licensees to obtain permanent relief from their otherwise perpetual obligation to retain Licence Data.

Who should archive?

Archiving Licence Data is an issue for all Licensees in a Licence Group (since obligations for Licence Data are borne jointly and severally by all companies which are party to a Licence and not by the Licence Operator of that Licence alone).

The Licence Operator (or the most recent Licence Operator where a Licence Group has disbanded) would usually represent the Licence Group in the Archive Process. However, for the sake of convenience, a Licensee may act either unilaterally or on behalf of several Licensees which share obligations with respect to a defined set of Licence Data.

The benefits of archiving

Licensees gain permanent relief from their obligation to manage and maintain Licence Data in perpetuity and this brings the following benefits:

  1. Elimination of long-term data management costs for all members of the Licence Group.
  2. Removal of the risk and consequences of any accidental or inadvertent breach of regulations.
  3. Relief from Obligation (under DECC/Oil & Gas UK Seismic Data Release Guidelines) to release seismic data archived with the NHDA (this role passes to the NHDA).
  4. Archiving Licence Data is also in the national interest and to the benefit of the upstream oil

and gas industry as a whole, ensuring that:

  1. Important geoscience data are securely and professionally preserved for posterity.
  2. The data are promoted and published widely, effectively and inexpensively under appropriate licensing terms.

Archive endowment fees

The archiving of Licence Data with the NHDA requires payment of Archive Endowment Fees to the NHDA to cover the cost of:

  1. Liaising with Licensees and DECC during Phases 1 to 4 in assessing and selecting the data to be archived.
  2. Indexing, QC and loading of Licence Data to the archive during Phase 5.
  3. Contributing to the NHDA infrastructure costs.