The regulatory arrangements governing the disclosure of seismic data on the UKCS are now well established. However, in case you have not had reason to consult the guidelines published by DECC1, we set out the five things you need to know below.
- The Model Clauses which govern Seaward Production Licences require Licensees to hold accurate records in order to preserve all information about the geology of the licensed area. Licensees who are or were party to the Licence under which the data is acquired are jointly and severally responsible to retain it in perpetuity except where: (1) the licence is assigned or (2) the data is transferred to the National Hydrocarbons Data Archive.
- The Model Clauses require Licensees to provide the data they acquire to the Secretary of State during the term of the licence. The Secretary of State may publish proprietary seismic data once a confidentiality period has expired. The confidentiality period is 4 years for 1st -19th round licences and 3 years or on determination of the licence for licences from the 20th round onwards. Disclosure of this data by DECC is subject to any representations made by the licensees as to why the data should not be published.
- DECC does not routinely collect well reports and well logs but retains the right to publish this data on expiry of the confidentiality period referred to above. For wells completed after 31 December 2006, Operators must submit well data to DECC’s Data Release Agents within 12 months of the date of completion of the well. For wells completed prior to 1 January 2007, Operators are required to submit data to DECC’s Data Release Agents no later than 12 months prior to the expiry of the confidentiality period referred to above.
- To protect a licensee’s intellectual property rights in respect of a disclosure of seismic data to co-venturers/third parties (for example relating to reprocessed data products), the disclosing operator may require the recipient operator to licence any released data. A precedent data release agreement is attached to the DECC Guidelines for this purpose.
- DECC has entered into an agreement with the International Association of Geophysical Contractors which provides that speculative seismic is to be classified as “released data” upon the 10th anniversary following the later of completion of the original data processing or the date of the first licensing round following acquisition of the relevant survey. There is a right of appeal from this provision for exceptional surveys on an individual basis. Access to “released data” is subject to a “low initial” license fee and additional phased licence fee payments.