For the past several years, records and information management professionals in the oil and gas industry have wrestled with a significant issue: How to capture legacy subsurface and pipeline records and transfer that data to the right personnel and repositories prior to the mass departure of a generation of engineers. The precarious loss of expertise associated with the retirement of the elders of the tribe is no longer just a threat: It is happening. Couple the typical knowledge loss that accompanies an employee’s departure with diminishing interest from younger generations to enter the oil and gas field at all, despite strong compensation packages — the knowledge management crisis is at hand.
Why is the younger generation so reticent to join the oil and gas industry, even as experts predict that the demand for energy will increase by 60 percent in 2030? Because the industry struggles with an image problem: Negative perceptions of its cyclical nature, its working conditions, its “low-tech” savvy, and its environmental impact abound. For perspective, consider data cited by the World Petroleum Council,1 which reports the staggering number of lawyers that U.S. universities turn out per year (43,000) against the number of geologists (430).
Before these engineers retire, the right parties must diligently build a knowledge management framework to capture and (re)codify tacit and implicit knowledge, addressing the current state of all content types. For example, in terms of legacy well records, only the well identifier may currently be available as metadata. Well logs, production reports, land and lease information, incidents and all manner of reports and records are usually not indexed or classified adequately, if at all, and they’re all in paper format.
Organizations should reach out to an experienced oil and gas records and information management services firm to address the opportunity to extract additional business value from legacy oil and gas records and information. Partnering with this type of vendor enables the ‘heavy lifting’ of the project to be completed without distracting workers from their mission critical responsibilities. The resulting partnership between the information functions and the departing expert workers will further support the risk management and information security functions, too.
Contact the Iron Mountain Energy team and find out how to take advantage of its expertise in oil and gas records management to have legacy well file records indexed, classified, imaged and tagged with the necessary metadata so valuable information can be quickly and easily available for corporate and field business decisions. Additionally, a data integrity project can enable you evaluate large inventories of poorly indexed boxes of legacy records that have ‘noisy metadata’, without the need to open every box. This type of project provides improved access, defensible destruction, targeted hold assignment, identification of a smaller subset of boxes to open for more detailed processing and demonstration of a formal, compliant retention management program for legacy records. Contact us today to see how we can help.
1. World Petroleum Council, A World in Transition: Delivering Energy for Sustainable Growth, (2008), http://www.world-petroleum.org/docs/docs/speeches/wpc%20Presentation%20the%20Aging%20Workforce%202.swf