- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A large donation will help a local science organization’s efforts to digitize millions of important archived well records.

The Oklahoma City Geological Society is one-third of the way to its $5 million goal, thanks to a $1 million donation from Devon Energy Corp. Yet the project is more important than just preserving old records, said Kim Hatfield, president of Crawley Petroleum. The OCGS digital library will help small independent companies like his use the past to unlock future oil and gas reserves, he told The Journal Record (https://bit.ly/1zvTn7f ).

The geological society began its capital campaign privately and has about $1.66 million so far, said CEO Mike Harris. He said his organization will use the money to scan millions of well logs dating back to before statehood. Drillers use that information to help find new petroleum resources, often as companies drill vertical wells near older wells.

“The clues to the past of historically drilled wells are used for research on the next well that is going to be drilled,” Harris said.

The faster the geological society can raise $5 million, the sooner it can complete its archiving project, Harris said. It could take two years or more, depending on how many people the organization can hire.

Yet the task is more than just simply imaging long paper logs on a high-resolution digital scanner. Much of the old well logs were handwritten and the format for recording wasn’t consistent, so employees must read and interpret the script to input information about well locations, well numbers and operator names.

Some of the information the organization has exists only in its physical repository. Like library books, sometimes a specific log is checked out, so members have to wait until it is returned to look at it. The online access will allow drillers to look up that information from anywhere with an Internet connection, which is very important, Hatfield said.

He said having the information in the OCGS’s database quickly is important, but the digital record itself is nearly invaluable.

“Sooner is always better,” he said. “But in the long run, the fact that it’s done, that we have it in the highest quality and in the most useful form, in digital scale where you can interact with it, that is when it becomes the most useful information.”

Harris said his organization expects the new building to open Jan. 5.

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Information from: The Journal Record, https://www.journalrecord.com

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