FAQ: How do I get API numbers for wells in Kentucky?


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In the 1960's, the American Petroleum Institute (API) in conjunction with the AAPG Committee on Statistics for Exploratory Drilling began collecting data on wells drilled in the United States. This committee expanded its focus to become the Committee on Statistics of Drilling (CSD). To uniquely identify each well reported, the "API Number" was defined. The 10-digit number consisted of a 2-digit state code, the 3-digit FIPS county code, and a 5 digit, unique serial number for the well. Additional digits supplied identification for redrill and sidetrack operations. When the API number was adopted in the mid-1960's, Kentucky adopted the 5-digit permit number issued by the Division of Oil and Gas as the unique serial identifier portion of the API number.

The use of the permit for Kentucky wells has several consequences. Permits issued prior to July 1, 1960 contain letters and can not be used. No permit was ever issued for the majority of wells drilled before about 1955. Older wells for which no permit was issued are assigned a permit beginning with "N" when they are transferred between operators. Permits issued after 9-Sep-2006 are six digits, that is 100000 or greater. There may be as many as 80,000 or more wells for which no API number based on the permit exists.

The Kentucky Geological Survey assigns a unique serial identifier assigned to each entry in our oil and gas well database at the time of data entry. This number is known as the record number and is either "Record_number" or "recno" in the database and documentation. Each of the various data types (well identification, location, completion, records available, etc.) are linked to one another by this record number. In addition, the scanned image data available through the oil and gas well search web interface is named using a derivative of the record number. An ArcView shape file of basic well identification and completion data is available free of charge, see the Kentucky Oil and Gas Well Location Shape File. An example of making a map and using the data is available online.

API state codes are derived from an alphabetic listing of the 48 contiguous states plus the District of Columbia. Alaska (50) and Hawaii (51) have been appended to the list. The state code for Kentucky is 16. The Federal Information Processing System (FIPS) county codes are available online; this FIPS code is used as the 3-digit county code in the API number. For Kentucky wells with a numeric permit, an API number can be generated by concatenating "16", the 3-digit FIPS county code, and the permit. The permit must be right justified and padded on the left with "0" (zero) to a length of exactly 5 characters. The API number for permit 1234, Allen County, Kentucky would be 1600301234. This generated API number is known as the old API number. This number was simply a convention and never officially adopted or published for Kentucky wells.

The Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas has begun assigning API numbers to wells in their database. These numbers are assigned sequentially by county in compliance with the definition of the API number. As well locations for old wells are resolved and in the process of matching data in the Division's and Survey's databases, this "new" API number may be subject to change. This API number is provided for reference only and is not considered "official" by the Division because the county code can change and a single location can have multiple API numbers.

IHS is a company that provides a wide range of data and software products for the oil and gas industry. Their commercial services include a database of Kentucky oil and gas well information that includes an API number. The methods and conventions used by IHS to assign API numbers to Kentucky wells is unknown and the numbers assigned do not match the numbers currently being assigned by the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas. If you purchase Kentucky data from IHS and want to match it with the free data you can download from any of the KGS web services, it is likely the best way to match the data sets would be to use the well locations.

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Created 4-Dec-2002