Digital data exchange formats

Digital data exchange format

Here you will find information about the data companies are required to deliver to EDU under various legislation. This specification will also place data delivery within the context of overall UK government and EU data initiatives.

Legislative background

Under the terms of licence agreements for the UKCS and other legislation such as the Petroleum Act 1998, licensees are obliged to keep all data for all time and deliver this, from time to time, to the Secretary of State of DECC in any format specified.

The Electronic Communications Act 2000 provides a basis for DECC to dictate digital delivery of data.

The UK Government, through Cabinet Office, has issued a number of directives associated with data delivery that have become mandatory through time. These directives relate to issues such as XML, INSPIRE, linked data and the UK Location Strategy. This landscape is ever-changing and no guarantee is made that all external requirements have been specified.

Information strategy

DECC has reviewed its data requirements in line with governmental information guidelines, changing business requirements, changing technology, the advent of Common Data Access (CDA), the National Hydrocarbons Data Archive (NHDA) and other collaborative data collection systems such as the Environmental Emissions Monitoring System (EEMS).

The DECC information strategy is that DECC should only receive and store information used on a regular basis in necessary business functions. All other information should be stored and retained by licensees or third parties on their behalf.


Legacy data

DECC recognises delivery of legacy data sets using new format standards may be difficult. It is prepared to discuss these issues on a case-by-case basis.

Exchange standards (XML)

This specification complies with the mandatory requirements, available on the Govtalk website, for all UK public sector information systems:

  • alignment with the internet – universal adoption of common specifications used on the internet for all public sector information systems
  • adoption of XML as the primary standard for data integration – all public sector information systems are to be accessible through browser-based technology; other interfaces are permitted but only in addition to browser-based interfaces

DECC intends to satisfy these requirements in consultation with the oil industry. This specification defines the target standards for each defined data set. DECC works closely with the following bodies on a number of standards initiatives:  

  • Energistics (the global oil and gas IT standards body)
  • Oil and Gas UK 
  • CDA
  • API (American Petroleum Institute)
  • NPD (Norwegian Petroleum Directorate)
  • other regulatory bodies

DECC intends to specify these standards and move to others as they emerge. It believes E&P and production data exchange standards will emerge based on Energistics' WITSML and PRODML standards, and reference will be made to these. These generic references are only indicative. DECC will progressively publish example XML files as the standards are endorsed.

INSPIRE, spatial data formats and UK Location Strategy

INSPIRE is an EU directive (now mandatory in UK government and signed up to by DECC) that establishes an infrastructure for spatial information. Although primarily intended for use with environmental data, the definition of environment is very wide. EDU intends to comply with INSPIRE standards at the earliest opportunity and are party to inter-departmental initiative MEDIN, which is specifying the standards.

The format for spatial data sent to EDU should be either ArcInfo coverage, an ArcView shapefile or a file compatible with one of these. Compatibility must be agreed with DECC in advance. 


Data should be in the following co-ordinate/projection system:


east of 6°W geographic co-ordinates/decimal degrees as defined in datum ED50
west of 6°W geographic co-ordinates/decimal degrees as defined in datum WGS84 or ETRF89
data that spans 6°W should be merged into either ED50, WGS84 or ETRF89 and clearly defined


National Grid co-ordinates are defined in datum OSGB36.

DECC supports the UK Location Strategy and will use this wherever appropriate.


In conjunction with the oil industry, DECC has developed Guidance notes on the use of co-ordinate systems in data management on the UKCS for assistance with projection.

Cataloguing standards and linked data

Dublin Core is the mandatory cataloguing standard for the UK public sector. The emerging Energistics cataloguing standards for the oil industry are based on Dublin Core. DECC intends to maintain an interest in these emerging standards and will mandate them when they become generally accepted.

Linked data is data in which real-world things are given web addresses (urls) and data is published about them in machine-readable formats at those locations. Other datasets can then point to those things using their urls, which means people using the data can find out more about something without that information being copied into the original dataset. DECC supports the linked data initiative, although little of EDU's oil and gas data is a part of the initiative. This situation will change as metadata is defined for data sets and they are included in the initiative.

Units of measure / reference entities

It is DECC's intention that units of measure and reference entities will be commonly used in the industry. Until these are formalised by an approved standards body, DECC expects oil companies to follow normal industry practice.


Dates must comply with UK government and ISO standards, in the format YYYY-MM-DD.

Geological codes

DECC has never imposed standards for lithology, chronostratigraphy or lithostratigraphy. Company codes can be used in submissions until such time as DECC determines suitable international standards have emerged.

Information delivery 

DECC's prefers to receive information digitally, although alternative methods may be acceptable if agreed in advance. Ideally the data will be transferred via the web, but it can also be emailed, or for large data sets submitted on CD. Many data sets and regulatory reports can be delivered via the UK Oil Portal and DECC is looking into extending this capability. Web delivery should be assumed as the preferred delivery mode unless otherwise specified for specific data sets.

Summary of data content, data format and data exchange standards

For a specific data type and data set, the content will define the actual data items required and, where appropriate, specific data values.

The data exchange format will define the delivery mechanism. There are few data exchange formats currently used in the oil industry but DECC is working to develop them. 

Summary table

Data type Data set Exchange format
Gravity Gravity data   
Magnetic Magnetic data   
Licensing round application Application data  via UK Oil Portal
Reservoir Production data  PPRS
  Well reservoir data   
Seismic Acquisition data   
  Processing data   
  Navigation data   
Wells 3D outline polygon   
  Basic well data   
  Raw logs  DLIS, LIS, LAS
  Composite log  
  Perforated intervals  
  Drilling problems  
  Well tests  
  Logs run  
  Well reports  


DECC intends to review these standards on a regular basis. Please direct any comments, queries or suggestions on this specification to:

Kirsty Gibson

Energy Development Unit
Department of Energy and Climate Change
3 Whitehall Place
London SW1A 2HD
0300 068 5738 


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