Finding ‘lost’ data in the world’s oldest petroleum basins.

One of the key challenges to finding and unlocking remaining hydrocarbon resources, in particular, mature petroleum basins, is finding, accessing and modernising ‘lost’ or legacy datasets and nowhere is this truer than in Central and Eastern Europe, home to some of the world’s first commercial oil wells.

Example of 1850s production in Romania

Gehrig Schultz, COO Geoscience at EPI, has more than 30 years in the oil industry in particular across Europe, South America & Africa.

In 2019, Gehrig received a commendation from the State Geology Service in the Republic of Georgia for recovering two data sets in different locations that were thought to be lost. He also recently chased down a lost 3D survey in South America.

Another issue is knowing how to use the data after finding it because it may be in an unconventional format, use an oddball coordinate system so that spies couldn’t figure out the data or simply have differing measurement systems over time.

Some of the problems we’ve faced are:

  • Trying to locate wells based on a 1930s flat-earth coordinate projection that used the NW corner of the third step of the city’s Cathedral stairs as its point of origin.  It was especially tough when we discover that the stairs were moved and modified when the road was widened in the 1970s.
  • Twisted and stretched ‘secret’ coordinates on wells and seismic lines when doing a study of an oil field that was in three countries. Each country had its own ‘secret’ coordinate transformation.
  • Production measurements made after the separator by one operator, before the separator by the next and then the third measured at the tank and averaged the production by the number of wells pumping.

One of the biggest challenges that existing operators and new entrants (evaluating opportunities in the upcoming licence round) face often is;

  • Data stored in a variety of locations;
  • Paper copies only
  • Old formats, non-standard units
  • Poor condition
  • Not recorded on available data listings
  • Difficult to access
  • Expensive

Over the past 25 years, EPI has helped numerous clients find, access and modernise data and critically have developed long term relationships with in-country experts. These relationships have enabled us to find and access data that was considered ‘lost’ (or not known to have been acquired), on behalf of our clients.

Data we have helped find, access and modern for our clients include:

  • 2D / 3D seismic (including original field records)
  • Gravity, magnetics
  • Well logs and reports
  • Core material
  • Production information
  • Geochemical analysis results
  • Field outcrop data
  • Geological and topographic maps
  • Unpublished academic studies

If you are looking for lost or legacy data we would love to help you find the answers you are looking for. We also have reports spanning many of the countries in the region. You can contact Gehrig and the team by emailing

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