Confirming seismic ownership when Divesting Properties and Including Seismic

Every year there are several transactions within our oil and gas industry that have companies divesting assets to another company. These ‘farm-outs” and/or “divestitures” can include anything associated with the asset, from land and production to seismic.  Perhaps because seismic isn’t always included in the deals, it is sometimes mishandled, leading to mistakes.

When companies divest their land they may want include the seismic pertaining to the divested lands. How they handle the data is dependent on their ownership status; the options are:

  • 100% proprietary – they can provide a licensed copy or transfer their proprietary rights
  • Partner – they can transfer their entire partner share
  • Trade – they can’t transfer any Trade seismic data

This is all straightforward and well understood in the industry. Troubles can pop up, however, when the company has incorrect ownership status listed for seismic, and although that might seem unlikely, it does happen. Over the last while we have been made aware of examples where divesting companies included a licensed copy for their 100% proprietary seismic only to find out that they didn’t have their ownership documented properly. In one example the divesting company did not own the seismic 100%, but had a partner share in the seismic dataset. In another case the data was Trade and should not have been transferred with the divestiture. Despite the mishandling of the seismic during disposition, in these cases Sigma worked with the divesting company along with the acquiring company and/or data owner(s) to resolve the issue. Depending on the specifics, we confirmed the ownership status and ensured the data that was transferred in error was either removed from the acquiring company, or appropriate fees were paid to the data owner(s).

Over the course of our 50 years, Sigma has compiled a comprehensive database of seismic provenance. All of what we have learned is stored in our proprietary software, called SigNET and this database gives us unique capabilities when it comes to unravelling the sometimes complicated ownership history of a given seismic survey or line.

If you are considering divesting properties and you want to include seismic data, we recommend that you confirm that your seismic database is correct. Sigma can assist you and provide accurate maps and schedules of your seismic data over the lands being divested. We recommend that you contact us prior to seismic schedules or maps being produced and distributed to avoid any conflicts.