Data is the king in the oil patch.

As American businesswoman Carly Fiorina, former president of Hewlett-Packard Co., once said, “The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.”

For the oil and gas industry, data can unlock answers to challenges and lead companies to opportunities whether it’s improved safety, more efficiency or the next big oil and gas discovery. The potential for added value is limitless for companies. So when a company decides to share its data for the benefit of everyone, the selfless act should be appreciated and commended.

“Subsurface data is considered a competitive advantage for us. Sharing of such data has to be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis,” Torbjørn Folgerø, chief digital officer for Equinor, said June 12 during Baker Hughes, a GE company’s UNIFY 2018 digital technology conference in Houston.

Equinor is more giving with its environmental and equipment data, sharing such information with energy groups and peers in hopes of realizing industrywide improvements. But just this week Equinor, formerly Statoil, and its partners ExxonMobil, Spirit Energy and Bayerngas Norge released all subsurface and production data from the Volve Field.

“This will be the most complete, across all disciplines, release of datasets on the Norwegian Continental Shelf,” Folgerø said.

Allowing students to train on real datasets and supporting innovation and the pursuit of solutions in the energy sector were among the reasons listed by Equinor for the dataset release.

“Volve is an example of how we searched for every possibility to extend the field life. Now we want to share all Volve data to ensure learning and development of future solutions,” Equinor COO Jannicke Nilsson said in a June 14 news release. “We believe that this data will be highly useful, contributing to further learning and experience transfer in the industry and in academia.”

Equinor said the dataset includes about 40,000 files with information such as static models and dynamic simulations, well data, real-time drilling data, production data, geophysical data with interpretations and other reports and data.

Located in the Norwegian North Sea, the field produced about 56,000 bbl/d and delivered a total of 63 million barrels during its life time from 2008 to 2016. The company said the field was originally scheduled to produce for up to five years, but operation lasted longer than expected after a new well was drilled that grew the field’s reserves.

“We believe that the learning potential for students is huge when they can train on real data, and it will prepare them further for working on real cases in the future,” Nilsson said. “We also share this data set to encourage higher productivity and innovation in the industry. We hope that it will not only help future energy innovators in their work, but also contribute to more efficient operation and possibly better interaction between players in our industry.”

Such moves have already been taken by some geological and geophysical companies, which have given university students access to seismic data for use during studies. Hopefully, their acts will inspire others within the industry to do the same—at least in cases where competitive advantage is not at play.

Velda Addison can be reached at