RBDMS Continues to Improve Data Continuity

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Field Inspectors

State agency field inspectors across the nation have been visiting oil and gas sites for decades to ensure that environmental rules and regulations are being followed. One field inspector may be responsible for inspecting 1,000 wells and 60 facilities each year.  Whenever inspectors visit a well or facility, they note observations and document issues for follow-up.  Often they need to reference historical information about the site.  Before computers, this information was logged in notebooks and on random pieces of paper.  When field inspectors needed to find historical information about a well or facility, it could take hours if the records were lost or misfiled.

RBDMS Field InspectorIn the 1990’s the first state agencies started to move from this type of paper system to RBDMS. It was built on Microsoft Access at the time, and it offered almost immediate improvements in data continuity.  All of the information for an underground injection control (UIC) well could be found without searching through paper files.  Over the years, the data in RBDMS for that well grew until the field inspector retired. Instead of the knowledge of that site disappearing, it persisted in RBDMS for the new inspector to pick up where the previous one left off.

“RBDMS helps us make sure that wells don’t slip through the cracks,” says Kirk McQuillan, Deputy Director of the Alabama Oil & Gas Board. “It helps us mitigate losses during staff turnover.”  

An unintended, but important, benefit of this is that RBDMS states have a built-in training system for new field inspectors. The first thing inspectors want to learn on the job is how things are done and what they should be tracking.   

Improving Data Quality and Continuity

RBDMS has improved over the years, continuously providing better data quality and continuity.  Many states have replaced multiple databases with one RBDMS system, bringing all of the data together for easy tracking and analysis.  Required fields set up a baseline for what should be recorded and drop-down options ensure consistent values are entered. This allows for values to stay steady through time to generate accurate reports. 

RBDMS provides that institutional knowledge that ensures continuity from one inspector to the next.

 “Continuity of data for the state is imperative,” says Dan Pearson, IT/Network Director with the Arkansas Oil & Gas Commission. “When you couple continuity within a state agency with continuity on a national scale, it’s huge. RBDMS allows that to happen.”