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Facilitating Oil Industry Access to Federal Lands Through Interagency Data Sharing
Project Number

The goal of the project is to improve the outlook for accelerating domestic production through three means:

  • Making environmental and permit conditions/lease stipulation data available online to industry and their third-party operators in several western States.
  • Establishing a standard for data transfer between State and Federal agencies and between government and industry.
  • Developing an electronic permitting system for State and Federal agencies.

Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), Oklahoma City, OK 
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Denver, CO


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, and delays in coordinating permit approvals between Federal and State agencies are frequent. Making Federal lease stipulation and area restriction data available on State agency Web sites will streamline a potential lessor’s review of available leases, encourage more active bidding on unleased Federal lands, and give third-party operators independent access to data that otherwise may not have access to lease restrictions and other environmental data.

As a requirement of EPCA, BLM inventoried 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 geographic information systems (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 GWPC’s successfully completed RBDMS or similar databases.

This project by GWPC, in cooperation with State oil and gas commissions and BLM, will increase the production of oil and gas on Federal lands in two ways. First, by providing access to existing lease stipulations, resource inventory assessments, and environmental data available for proposed geographic locations, industry operators can make better decisions about exploration opportunities. Second, by developing the schema, parser, and Web application, the project participants will begin to automate the permit application and review process, which will reduce the time required for routine regulatory approvals and, ultimately, eliminate the need for duplicative submittals to State and Federal regulatory agencies.

GWPC has been working with DOE, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and State agencies to combine the data required by the Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA) Amendments of 2002. This includes Federal lease stipulations, Federal land resource management, land use plans for Colorado oil and gas wells, and environmental data. These comprehensive data sets are now available on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) Web site ( This same effort is now underway in New Mexico and Montana, with other western States to follow.

Also, with the input of Energistics (formerly the Petrotechnical Open Standards Consortium), BLM, and the participating State agencies, GWPC has developed version 1.0 of an XML schema that defines the regulatory lifecycle of oil, gas, and associated wells. The schema is compliant with the Wellsite Information Transfer Standard Markup Language (WITSML), an internationally accepted industry standard for e-commerce. The schema has been reviewed by the BLM and the RBDMS (Risk-Based Data Management System) Technical Committee, which is made up of representatives of State oil and gas agencies nationwide, and is now under industry review. An XML parser also has been developed for use with the schema as the means for seamless data transfer between industry operators and agency databases. A review copy of the schema can be found at

The next step, now underway, is to design a dynamic Web application that uses the schema and the parser to accept well permit notices from industry operators in both single-form and large-batch submittals. The State oil and gas agencies in Colorado, Kentucky, Alabama, and Alaska, in addition to BLM, have offered to pilot-test the Web application upon completion of the programming work.

About 39 percent (23,091,000 acres) of the Federal land in the five geologic basins referenced in BLM’s EPCA Phase I report is available for oil and gas leasing with standard stipulations. Resource estimates indicate that these lands contain 57 percent of the recoverable oil and 63 percent of the recoverable gas in the basins. Allowing industry operators to query the related environmental and lease stipulation data on State agency Web sites will streamline the review process and encourage lease bidding on lands with favorable production opportunities. In tandem with improved data access, developing a standard data format for electronic permitting promises a significant reduction in regulatory delays on Federal lands.

The ability to exchange information between industry operators and regulatory agencies and between State and Federal regulatory agencies over the Internet offers several significant promises:

  • Giving the oil and gas industry the information to improve its exploration and development programs with a full understanding of lease stipulations and conditions of approval dictated by environmental concerns.
  • Eliminating duplicate permitting through data sharing between State agencies and the BLM.
  • Reducing the time to process regulatory reports through automated data quality checks that eliminate transcription errors and other data omissions.
  • Speeding agency response times to permit applications and production reports.
  • Lessening the country’s dependence on foreign oil and gas.

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 electronic commerce. The next steps are as follows:

  • Continuing to posting Federal lease stipulations for New Mexico, Montana, and other western States on the State oil and gas agency Web site, as has been done for Colorado.
  • Continuing to automate portions of the permit application process through the use of version 1.0 of the well lifecycle schema and parser as part of a dynamic Web application that accepts both single-form and large-batch submittals of well notices from industry operators.

The completed project plan, staffing strategy, and pilot-testing assignments for the necessary ongoing work are available from GWPC.

Current Status

(July 2007) 
The lease stipulation data posted for Colorado is being updated to include links to the complete text of the environmental requirements. Work has begun on the New Mexico lease stipulation data. This includes converting the New Mexico data into a GIS format and importing it into a database. GWPC expects to post New Mexico data on the Internet by August 2007.

Version 1.0 of the well lifecycle regulatory reporting schema has been reviewed and accepted by the RBDMS Technical Committee, the pilot State oil and gas agencies, and BLM. The comment period for industry response is now open (

Programming is now underway for the dynamic Web application that will use the parser and schema to accept electronic permit notices from industry. Pilot testing is expected to begin late in early 2008.

This project was selected in response to DOE’s Federal Lands Access and Produced Water Management solicitation, DE-PS26-04NT15460. The goal was to streamline data management process, enabling better decisions, saving time, and reducing costs.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution

$450,000 (33 percent of total)

Other Government Organizations Involved: BLM, U.S. Minerals Management Service, State oil and gas commissions

Contact Information

NETL - Rhonda Jacobs ( or 918-699-2037) 
GWPC - Mike Paque ( or 405-516-4972)

Additional Information


Note: All publications and project management instruments are available at the RBDMS ePermit project site: Contact for a site password.

Ground Water Protection Council, Prospect for Oil and Gas Online: Suggestions for Researching Access to Mineral Rights on Federal Lands, Flash movie, September 2006.

Ground Water Protection Council, RBDMS eCommerce Initiative: Encouraging Domestic Oil and Gas Production While Helping to Protect the Environment, Annual Report, July 2006.

Ground Water Protection Council, The Effects of the RBDMS/e-Commerce Initiative on Domestic Oil and Gas Production and Water Resource Protection, Annual Report 2005,

Jehn, Paul, Thom Kerr, Jim Milne, Bob Johnson, “Increasing Access to Federal Lands in Western States Through Data Sharing,” International Petroleum Environmental Conference, San Antonio, TX, October 2006.

Ground Water Protection Council, E-Commerce Project Detail Design Document, September 2006,

The well lifecycle regulatory reporting schema is available at

Screenshot of ArcIMS Viewer display of part of northwest Colorado showing federal lease stipulations and oil and gas wells.
Screenshot of ArcIMS Viewer display of part of northwest Colorado showing federal lease stipulations and oil and gas wells.
Proposed method for displaying BLM lease stipulation data with RBDMS data.
Proposed method for displaying BLM lease stipulation data with RBDMS data.