Oil and gas industry

Customer Success Stories

Specialist Iron Mountain storage facilities in Aberdeen provide the UK oil and gas industry with efficient access to vital geological data

4 September 20208 mins
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Specialist Iron Mountain Storage Facilities In Aberdeen Provide The UK Oil And Gas Industry With Efficient Access To Vital Geological Data


Long-term storage for geological data, including mineral samples collected during exploration for hydrocarbons


Bespoke off-site storage solution for core samples, seismic tapes, maps, and reports, as well as corporate files


Secure storage underpins compliance obligations, while easy local access and specialist Iron Mountain industry knowledge aids productivity


Exploration and extraction of hydrocarbon deposits beneath the earth’s surface is an expensive and highly complex science. As it can have serious environmental consequences, stringent regulations are in place to ensure that information collected during drilling and exploration is preserved and, after a period of three years, made available for the industry as a whole. This process is called common data access (CDA).

Arguably, the greatest challenge is the storage of cores collected during drilling. These rock and soil samples can yield vital information about the presence of hydrocarbons and indicate the degree of difficulty involved in extraction. Even if the results were inconclusive at the time of their extraction, these core samples can yield vital intelligence in years to come and thus they must be preserved and stored carefully.

Cores obtained during drilling are divided into three equal parts. A third is lodged with the British Geological Survey (BGS); a partly public-funded body that aims to advance the geoscientific knowledge of the United Kingdom. Two-thirds are retained by the oil company – one is resin-encapsulated to enable visual inspection of the strata, and the other is sealed in a container to remain available for scientific analysis.
Other data stored includes seismic reflection surveys, well logs, depth conversion analysis and sedimentology studies, as well as maps and reports produced by petroleum geologists and geophysicists to create a profile of the earth’s substructure.


Iron Mountain operates a specialist storage facility for the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen. A spokesperson for a company in the sector confirms: “We’ve been working with Iron Mountain for as long as I can remember. We have over 60,000 core samples in store with them and each can comprise several hundred sub-samples.”

Iron Mountain also stores more conventional paper-based records for oil and gas industry clients, as well as other specialist items such as seismic tapes and mapping data. All resources are recorded on eSearch, an Iron Mountain database application that enables clients to catalogue, locate and, as necessary, order for retrieval any number of assets of different types through an online portal.

“Iron Mountain provides a fantastic service. Alan Scott and his colleagues are just so knowledgeable and helpful. They are always giving us guidance on best practice and the Iron Mountain facilities are great. They’ve never let us down and I can’t praise them enough.”
Spokesperson, Oil and Gas Company

The scale of the operation is impressive. Alan Scott, core store manager at Iron Mountain, and himself a qualified geologist, comments: “I’d estimate that we store around 60 per cent of all the core samples ever taken from UK fields. We have nearly half-a-million boxes of rock samples and ground-up drill cuttings, plus thousands of boxes of reports and other data.”

To preserve integrity and minimise the handling complexity of samples, all boxes pertaining to the same core are stored together sequentially, rather than being filed randomly as is often the practice with documents. Each box contains typically six feet of core sample and Iron Mountain has developed specialist racking and handling equipment to aid easy transit of these heavy containers.

Iron Mountain also offers designated private areas to facilitate inspection and sampling, each featuring special benches and offering different lighting options (such as daylight and UV). Alan Scott adds: “Each year we host around 1,500 people, on 600 inspection days. That means laying out over 24 miles of rock samples.”


With many oil and gas companies located in and around Aberdeen, the specialist off-site storage service operated by Iron Mountain provides companies with easy and highly efficient local access to core samples and other vital geological data and helps enhance compliance with industry regulations.

“Our company conducts about 20 viewings each year and our samples are viewed by others a similar number of times,” confirms one oil company spokesperson. “The private inspection rooms are a fantastic facility and Iron Mountain makes them available to us at a very reasonable rate. Being able to view and take samples in Aberdeen is far more efficient for us as it avoids the need for our people to travel to the BGS national core store in Nottingham, where the facilities for inspection are often oversubscribed.”

Companies can also use the Iron Mountain inspection rooms to view and extract information from stored paper files. Not only does this facilitate easy access it reduces the cost and security risk of transportation.

Working with Iron Mountain has other benefits too. “Because Iron Mountain stores core samples for many players in the industry they know where samples reside,” says an oil company spokesperson, “even if they’re stored by a competitor. They also know who we need to contact at oil companies to gain permission to view and extract samples that are not owned by us. We see a lot of change in our industry, with people coming and going all the time, so that knowledge and those contacts are enormously valuable.”

Iron Mountain also offers a data transfer service for the industry. Many oil and gas companies have a wealth of data stored on obsolete media such as 51/4-inch floppy discs or 12-inch magnetic tapes and Iron Mountain has the capability to organise the transfer of this data onto modern day hard drives as required.

An oil and gas company spokesperson sums up: “Iron Mountain provides a fantastic service. Alan Scott and his colleagues are just so knowledgeable and helpful. They are always giving us guidance on best practice and the Iron Mountain facilities are great. They’ve never let us down and I can’t praise them enough.”

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