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Oil and Gas Well Record Scanning Project Completed at the Kentucky Geological Survey

Lexington, Ky. (October 30, 2009)—The Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) at the University of Kentucky has reached a major milestone in its efforts to make Kentucky oil and gas drilling records readily available to the public. KGS staff has completed a decades-long project to scan all of the records and make them accessible at the KGS web site.  The Survey has stored oil and gas records since the late 19th Century, and the Kentucky General Assembly mandated in 1960 that oil and gas operators submit their records to KGS, which became the official repository of the records (Kentucky Revised Statutes, 353.660).

 “The records are crucial for exploring new oil and gas resources and are used for other geologic purposes such as determining ground water and coal resources, environmental issues, and rock properties,” says KGS Director and State Geologist Jim Cobb . “The records are used by industry, government agencies, and private land owners. These users are not only from Kentucky, but also from around the U.S. and the world.”
A controversial decision was made over 25 years ago to scan the records into computerized images rather than preserve them on microfilm, despite the primitive nature of the available computer systems at that time.   “The project to scan the entire archive began in March 1984, at a time when the Internet as we know it today didn’t exist,” says Steve Cordiviola, head of the KGS Geoscience Information Section. “So the decision for a computerized archive turned out to be a better one than we could imagine at the time.”

The first scanned records became available at the KGS web site in the summer of 2002. At the time, the paper records occupied 530 file drawers. This summer, twenty-five years after the project began, KGS staff completed the scanning of the backlog of drilling records. Today, a database of more than 590,000 records from Kentucky oil and gas drilling operations can be accessed at this website: These records come from more than 170,000 oil and gas wells drilled in Kentucky over more than a century.

“The cooperation between KGS and our agency is invaluable, and the electronic well records library is an important connection in our partnership,” said Kim Collings, director of the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas, which regulates drilling operations.  “The database has become a daily tool for the Division’s office and field staff.  It contains a wealth of information especially for pre-regulation wells for which the Division may have no records.”

The database has not gone unnoticed by drillers and others interested in oil and gas operations in the state. In calendar year 2008, there were more than 83,560 searches of this database, which has been of great value to operators.

“The benefits of this database to the state’s oil and gas industry can hardly be measured,” says John Gabbard, executive director of the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association.  “For operators who are looking into places to recover oil or gas resources, it is an invaluable tool for helping them determine where to drill or where not to, based on previous experiences available through the online database.”

The online records database offers users a variety of criteria for searches by geographic area, date of the record, type of record, and other criteria.  A tutorial on how to use the database is available at this web site