Q&A with Amanda Trotter
When did New York adopt RBDMS and how has it evolved through the years?
The Division of Mineral Resources (which is part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) adopted RBDMS soon after the initial states developed it. We converted our existing database to RBDMS in 2002. One of our earliest accomplishments was that we were able to take what was done in other states and customize it to track multilateral and non-vertical wells. If we hadn’t done that, we would have had major problems when operators began drilling multilateral wells. But that was a long time ago! New York’s version of RBDMS has changed a lot through the years, and these days we are planning to add Michigan’s Field Inspection and California’s UIC/Compliance tracking. RBDMS is so flexible and strong that it has allowed us to electronically track the majority of our oil and gas regulatory program. One of the great things about the collaborative nature of RBDMS is we can take what other states have done and implement it in New York, so it evolves through time.
How has New York benefited from RBDMS?
RBDMS has the ability to track many areas of our regulatory interests. We can capture almost everything electronically, which allows us to run reports and identify areas that need improvement. In addition, the fact that we can implement what other states have done allows us to stay current. The industry is changing all the time and states have to keep up with that. We need to track development, respond to different pressures, and report on what we are doing to the public. RBDMS helps us do all of that much more efficiently than paper would.
What other RBDMS tools does New York use?
In addition to decreasing staff time dedicated to managing paper records and improving quality control, RBDMS makes it much easier for operators to submit production reporting through RBDMS eForm, which is a robust electronic forms system first developed in Colorado. At the end of each reporting period, the operators enter and report data for each of the wells. Division staff review the report and return it to the operator to be adjusted if needed.
FormBuilder is a newer version of eForm that we are adopting and improving. It allows forms to be easily created by a state agency without the help of a software developer, putting the functionality directly in the states’ hands. New York has built and implemented three forms using FormBuilder. Once the submission is approved, it goes into the database to be publicly posted later. It saves everyone time and paper. It’s a win-win.
We also use the RBDMS Wellbore Diagram Tool, an amazing tool that takes all of the casing, cementing and drilling data and creates a visual depiction of the well construction. It is very useful for more recent wells and allows our staff to evaluate proposed casing and cementing plans.
Are there other ways that New York has benefited from the partnership with GWPC?
The partnership with GWPC has been very important to New York. GWPC helped NYS DEC build an online permitting tool that used the technologies specified by the agency. GWPC also helped build an electronic system that allowed us to collect public comments regarding hydraulic fracturing in New York State. Most significantly, GWPC helped the Division build a mining database very similar to RBDMS Classic, which is still in use today.
What is the most important thing you think people should know about RBDMS?
That it is money very well spent. We are able to leverage state money alongside Department of Energy money to create something for New York that can be customized and used by other states. RBDMS is being used in over 20 states and other sovereign entities and is flexible enough to adapt and meet diverse regulatory needs. The applications are always getting better through an iterative process of states building on what other states have done, so the outcome is greater than the sum of its parts.