This paper reviews existing analysis of well integrity related regulation in upstream unconventional oil and gas projects and proposes a methodology to enhance such regulation in the future. This paper has compiled findings from a number of peer-reviewed sources assessing regulatory systems across a number of jurisdictions. These findings were based around four key questions that this paper has assessed (1) what is the overall assessment of current regulatory systems; (2) where to-date are the key areas that current research have focused on; (3) what are the key strengths identified in current research; and (4) what are the key gaps in current research?
This paper demonstrates that the body of work provides a wide array of assessments and conclusions. Whilst some are quite explicit in their judgment of a particular system’s effectiveness, many refrain from making a holistic assessment in a particular jurisdiction. Much of the research involves the application of prisms, such as environmental risks or local government jurisprudence. Along with these prisms, a number of common aspects of research are identified that strengthen the analyses, such as the use of ‘as drilled’ data and the use of relevant data samples. Some research gaps remain despite these strengths.
The majority of previous researchers can identify some degree of ineffectiveness in various regulatory regimes. Further, a number of gaps exist as a result of regulatory systems being incomplete or inadequate, potentially masking other inadequacies. To address these gaps, this paper proposes a methodology to improve and clarify knowledge and practical recommendations to improve the effectiveness of assurance activities by both regulatory agencies and operators. Specifically, this methodology focuses on a typological assessment of written rules in a number of jurisdictions. As an example, we present an ‘as built’ dataset to assess compliance with rules and identify means of assurance. This methodology proposes surveying of regulatory agencies and operators to validate the assertion that gaps can be identified and corrected and provide more insight into how regulatory systems function and the systematic causes of gaps.