Much of the environmental and technical data useful to the oil and gas industry and regulatory agencies is now contained in disparate state and federal databases. Delays in coordinating permit approvals between federal and state agencies translate into increased operational costs and stresses for the oil and gas industry. Making federal lease stipulation and area restriction data available on state agency Web sites will streamline a potential lessors review of available leases, encourage more active bidding on unleased federal lands, and give third-party operators independent access to data who otherwise may not have access to lease restrictions and other environmental data.

As a requirement of the Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is in the process of inventorying oil and natural gas resources beneath onshore federal lands and the extent and nature of any stipulation, restrictions, or impediments to the development of these resources.

The EPCA Phase 1 Inventory resulted in a collection of GIS coverage files organized according to numerous lease stipulation reference codes. Meanwhile, state agencies also collect millions of data elements concerning oil and gas operations. Much of the oil and gas data nationwide is catalogued in the Ground Water Protection Council's (GWPC's) successfully completed Risk Based Data Management System (RBDMS).

The GWPC and the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Montana are implementing a pilot project where BLM lease stipulation data and RBDMS data will be displayed in a GIS format on the Internet. This increased access to data will increase bid activity, help expedite permitting, and encourage exploration on federal lands.

Linking environmental, lease stipulation, and resource inventory assessment data and making a GIS interface for the data available to industry and other agencies via the internet represents an important step in the GWPC strategy for all oil and gas regulatory e-commerce. The next step beyond mere data sharing for facilitating the permitting process is to make it possible for industry to file those permit applications electronically. This process will involve the use of common XML schemas.

This paper describes the coordinated effort being undertaken by the member states of GWPC, BLM, POSC (Petrotechnical Open Standards Consortium), MMS (Mineral Management Service), and others to make this effort a reality.

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