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Fall 2005
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Data Now Available to Oil, Gas Industry via Esri Technology

IHS Energy and UNEP-WCMC Form Biodiversity Data Delivery Partnership

The International Energy Agency reports that the global demand for oil is climbing and estimates the world uses an average of 81.1 million barrels per day. Economic growth and expanding industrialization promise a steady climb in oil and natural gas consumption around the world. In a quest to meet this growing demand for oil and natural gas resources, energy companies need access to a range of comprehensive data and information resources to assist with the full range of business development planning and decision-making processes and activities.

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Biodiversity Module Attributes data combined with GIS is used by energy companies to study potential impacts on legally protected and environmentally sensitive areas.

An enormous information resource has recently been made available that will provide energy companies with integrated access to exploration and production (E&P) data and key global biodiversity and sensitive areas data. The United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) of Cambridge, United Kingdom, has signed a landmark agreement with IHS Energy to market a global biodiversity information module to the energy industry.

UNEP-WCMC is the biodiversity assessment and policy implementation arm of the United Nations Environment Programme. The center seeks to provide objective, accessible, relevant, and reliable biodiversity information for practitioners and decision makers in the public and private sectors. Internationally recognized as a center of excellence in the location, management, and dissemination of global biodiversity-related data, UNEP-WCMC works in close collaboration with a wide range of organizations and individuals to increase access to the information necessary for wise use of the world's living resources. It seeks to place authoritative knowledge at the center of decision making.

Under this agreement, IHS Energy has exclusive rights to market and license the unique UNEP-WCMC Biodiversity Module to the oil and gas industry. The underlying architecture for making this data accessible is GIS, and both IHS Energy and UNEP-WCMC use Esri products in their ongoing work and within this partnership.

IHS Energy (an Esri Business Partner) of Englewood, Colorado, provides global oil and gas information, detailed maps, analytical software, and consulting services to oil and gas companies, national oil companies, service companies, and government agencies. IHS Energy is an operating division of IHS Inc.

IHS Energy clients use the company's data, tools, and analysis to help determine where they should be exploring for oil and gas or to evaluate production performance of existing oil and gas projects or prospects. They also use IHS Energy data and analysis to determine which assets might be appropriate for acquisition or divestiture and which countries or regions they should be entering or exiting based on numerous factors including geological attractiveness, political risk, and business climate.

Ron Mobed, president and chief operating officer of IHS Energy, says, "We are honored to be working with UNEP-WCMC to provide access to these critical biodiversity datasets. Combining biodiversity and energy and production data in a map-based view creates a powerful, early-warning resource for our customers, helping them understand the footprint of planned projects and how any overlap with certain areas might impact sensitive ecosystems."

Many oil and gas companies seeking to avoid environmentally sensitive areas and to develop mitigation plans face three major challenges: first, to avoid potential conflicts; second, to have early access to data that helps them identify those conflict areas; and third, to understand the impact on legally protected and environmentally sensitive areas around the world, which may not have legal protection today.

The IHS Energy and UNEP-WCMC partnership addresses all three. It provides an early warning screening system for geologists and analysts. It includes datasets covering sensitive areas, which frequently cross national boundaries or cover large-scale ecosystems and may or may not have formal legal protection. With access to this information, energy companies can give earlier attention to environmental factors when considering new activities, such as where to plan exploration programs, how to assign seismic activity, what areas to assess for ongoing drilling programs, and how to plan pipeline networks and transportation logistics. Revenue received by UNEP-WCMC through this arrangement will be used to assist with data quality enhancement for the Biodiversity Module dataset.

GIS technology is a major component of the project and is essential for managing, displaying, and distributing data. A longtime user of Esri's ArcView and ArcSDE technology, IHS Energy now uses ArcIMS technology, which allows data to be queried for deeper, underlying details. By using ArcIMS, IHS was able to quickly integrate the spatial content provided by UNEP-WCMC, and because customers can access the information online, IHS Energy is able to offer users direct links to database entries maintained by UNEP-WCMC for the protected areas.

The Biodiversity Module will be available through IHS Energy's Energy Data Information Navigator (EDIN)-GIS, an online, GIS/Web-browser interface, and through desktop applications. EDIN-GIS gives oil and gas customers access to international exploration and production content through existing Web browsers and provides them with the ability to perform complex database queries. The Web interface is built on Esri ArcIMS/ArcGIS technology and enables customers to access their data in a map-based environment. EDIN-GIS is part of IHS Energy's global GIS strategy to provide enterprise solutions that streamline users' day-to-day workflows.

The Biodiversity Module datasets included in the first release are

  • The boundaries and location of nationally and internationally designated protected areas
  • The distribution of warm-water coral reefs
  • The distribution of seagrass beds
  • World Wildlife Fund ecoregions (including Global 200 priority ecoregions)

UNEP-WCMC biodiversity data originates from a wide variety of sources, including government agencies with nature conservation and natural resource management responsibilities, international biodiversity conservation organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and individual experts. The center is custodian and manager of the World Database of Protected Areas.

Tim Johnson, deputy director of UNEP-WCMC, says, "We want biodiversity data and information to be made available throughout society to assist them in their decision-making processes. As such, it needs to be readily accessible in a format that is useful to a wide range of users. IHS has a wide customer base from many worldwide energy industry companies. By combining UNEP-WCMC's biodiversity data offerings with IHS Energy's, we will have far greater and more efficient reach with critical audiences that interact with the natural world and its resources."

The UNEP-WCMC and IHS Energy partnership aims to assist decision makers across the E&P spectrum by improving the availability of critical information and making them fully aware of key biodiversity and sensitive areas issues surrounding a project, or company-wide assets throughout the business cycle. Easy access to vital information through map-based tools such as EDIN-GIS will enable companies to work closely with key stakeholders to address potential impacts on wildlife and their habitats before operations begin, and to continue to review ongoing operations and business development activities more easily.

For more information, visit IHS Energy at and UNEP-WCMC at or IHS/index.htm.

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