The licensing of multi-client data (also known as “non-exclusive” or “speculative” data) has become an integral part of the exploration, development and production process. Worldwide, geophysical companies invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually in this data, and its cumulative value is measured in the billions. Exploration and production (E&P) companies buy access to the information through restricted, non-transferable, user licenses that cost considerably less than acquiring and processing the data themselves.
Multi-client data is often used to help governments evaluate and promote new hydrocarbon exploration areas. Governments also benefit from the availability of “off-the-shelf” data that enables companies to quickly and cost-effectively analyze prospects and make investment decisions. Different countries have different regulatory schemes under which multi-client data is acquired and licensed, and each scheme presents unique issues and challenges.
To help address these issues and challenges, regional data licensing committees are organized within the IAGC to monitor government, legal and industry developments regarding data confidentiality and disclosure requirements, intellectual property rights and licensing practices that may affect the multi-client business within their respective regions. These regional committees also engage governments to improve or preserve the viability of multi-client data investments and to promote the value of the multi-client data business model.
IAGC has developed a model Master Data Licensing Agreement (MLA) as well as several Statements of Principles addressing the various aspects of licensing multi-client geophysical data. IAGC offers these resources for discussion and educational purposes. They are available as a free download to IAGC members and the general public.