Meeting Oil & Gas Compliance Challenges with Records Management Software

April 13, 2018

Oil and gas companies not only have to ensure compliance with multiple agencies in multiple jurisdictions, they also must ensure compliance across multiple disciplines. 

Along with maintaining a growing volume of well files, leases, and plant/facility documents, oil and gas companies have a complex compliance standard to maintain within the energy sector.

Ensuring timely access to all records and information while following legally defensible destruction procedures can be challenging, further complicated by mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures and ever-evolving laws and regulations.

Records management software platforms can help companies manage records and information in all formats consistently and in compliance with laws and regulations. Records management software can alleviate common industry challenges such as a high volume of records at different locations, managing older paper well and land files, RIM consistency after mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures, and operating in a matrixed, highly regulated environment. 


Challenge #1: Accessing a high volume of records at multiple locations in timely manner

Timely access to records and information is critical records management best practice. Without it, critical business decisions can be delayed or misinformed or worse, regulatory compliance issues that can result in significant fines and legal consequences.

For example, recent changes to HR 2845: Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011 have extended pipeline records to be included as part of the regulation. This means there are more records to maintain and failure to comply with safety regulations can result in a fine of $1.75 million - in short, the cost of non-compliance is increasing.

To combat the challenge of record accessibility, oil and gas companies can maintain a set file structure and classification system, multiple retention schedule records series, and disposition approval workflow using browser-based records management software.

RIM teams can configure the system to reflect their own classifications and terminology, departments, and locations to create a robust, fully searchable database of records and information.  


Challenge #2: Managing older paper records together with digital records

When needed information is stored in siloed repositories, it’s challenging to produce records in a timely manner. Older paper land/well files could be managed outside of newer, electronic repositories or different office locations might be using disparate systems. 

Using RM software for physical records management and digital content management improves the likelihood that all records, regardless of file type, can follow a unified retention schedule. Also, automating event-based retention processes means records are less likely to be lost or misplaced - and no more relying on people or departments to manually trigger the event.

Within this system, users can associate emails, PDFs, image files, and more with existing paper records, even crawl multiple repositories/shared drives to locate and classify existing digital files. One system can be used to manage legacy physical records and newly created digital files. This helps RIM administrators to ensure that all records are managed according to their retention schedule records series and are in compliance with laws and regulations.

Records management software also includes integrations with Enterprise Content Management providers that ensure seamless connections to existing databases.


Challenge #3: Mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures 

When companies grow and expand, they can face challenges with RIM consistency. For example, a newly acquired company may have older paper well files or leases stored in multiple off-site warehouses, different from the locations of the parent company. Using records management software with off-site storage integration allows RIM administrators to view location and status of all records, at all locations. Time saving features include requesting a record transfer or pick-up, all from the application. Upon setup of the system, the software provider handles all of the data migration and integrations tasks.

This also ensures that all records are captured and managed from one system, reducing the risk of records being misplaced or keeping records past their retention period. 


Challenge #4: Highly regulated environment 

Records and information need to be traceable, accessible, and verifiable in order to comply with regulatory agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), US DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

To ensure oil and gas companies are in compliance with these regulations, it’s important to maintain a complete record audit trail. Managing records within a records management software system provides RIM teams with accountability and visibility into critical information, such as record retention dates and disposition activity, legal holds status, and record location. 

A records management software system provides quick access to facility documents, leases, and well and land assets and ensures information integrity with records that are traceable and accessible.