OGA opened a four week consultation on 10 November 2017, seeking views from the UK oil and gas industry on its proposal to increase the levy (which is payable by all offshore petroleum licensees and is OGA’s primary source of funding) to support the speedy creation and then maintenance of a United Kingdom National Data Repository (NDR).

With a view to maximising the timely availability of technical data regarding the UKCS and minimising the costs of access to that data, OGA identified early on the aim of establishing a more comprehensive and more easily accessed database of that information than has previously existed. OGA considers this is crucial to further the principal objective of maximising the economic recovery of UK petroleum (MER UK) through improved access to UK petroleum related information.

Offshore petroleum license holders have long had an obligation to provide licence related information to OGA (and its predecessors). Many discharge this obligation by providing data to Common Data Access Limited (CDA), which is a subsidiary of the UK offshore oil and gas industry’s trade association, Oil & Gas UK. Licence holders currently pay a membership fee to CDA in order to gain access to the CDA repository.

To speed up the process of establishing the NDR, OGA intends to build on CDA’s existing data repository, initially by contracting with CDA so as to have access to the relevant parts of the current database. OGA confirms in the consultation document that it has considered alternative approaches to establishing an NDR - such as setting up its own database (which OGA suggests would incur high set up costs) or continuing the current arrangements (which OGA considers are less transparent and afford fewer collaborative benefits than the proposed NDR) - but considers those are less attractive options.

OGA proposes that the increased levy will be balanced through the removal of the corresponding CDA membership fees in January 2019, resulting in an overall neutral cost to industry as a whole (although, since not all industry members currently subscribe to CDA membership, the proposed arrangement may not be cost neutral to each individual company).

The consultation can be accessed here and closes on 8 December 2017.