Bottom and surface hole integrity project (BSHIP) frequently asked questions
(last updated: September 12, 2011)

In this section:


Question: Who at my company will be receiving the notifications of change in well location and how will the notifications be delivered (regular mail, e-mail, registered letter, etc.)?
Answer: There will be two sets of letters sent to affected parties. The first relates to surface-hole changes and is addressed to the Well Licensing Group. The second relates to bottomhole changes and is addressed to the Well Drilling and Completions Group.
Both letters and their attachments will be mailed out by courier or regular mail and e-mail. It is the responsibility of the licensee to ensure these letters are directed to the appropriate contact within their company for further action.

Question: How will updated data, including multilegs of a well, be documented on the electronic well file?
Answer: These data changes will appear on the general well file and other subscription files as they are processed and corrected.

Question: How will the AER provide status updates of data and system improvements?
Answer: The AER will be posting regular updates on the AER website as the improvements progress. These FAQs will also be updated regularly as questions are received from industry.

Question: How can nonlicensees obtain a list from the AER of the changes to surface- and bottomholes?
Answer: The AER is making the list of wells affected by the BSHIP project available to the public via the AER website on the Data Integrity Program webpage. These lists are available in both PDF and Excel formats.

Question: After a licensee submits a disagreement to the AER, what action will the AER take regarding our licence and the pending changes?
Answer: After submission of a surface-hole disagreement, the AER will first conduct a review of the well site plan to validate the geographic datum used, the version of the Alberta township system (ATS) grid used (if indicated), and the surface-hole offsets for consistency.

Question: Does the AER have an estimate of the magnitude of the coordinate changes?
Answer: Industry wide, 93% of surface-hole changes are less than 5 metres, with an average of 1.6 metres. 80% of bottomhole changes are less than 5 metres, with an average of 2.4 metres.

Question: Can the changes be made in a timeframe to minimize the impacts on volumetric reporting deadlines in the petroleum information network (PETRINEX)?
Answer: The AER has a regular freeze on processing unique well identifier (UWI) changes during the time approaching the deadline for volumetric reporting; however, if a well becomes noncompliant with Directive 007: Volumetric and Infrastructure Requirements and receives a noncompliance fee as a result of the bottom and surface hole integrity project (BSHIP) and/or as a result of processing a UWI change, the licensee can disclose this fact and the fee will be waived accordingly.

The AER will observe a five-day freeze on processing UWI changes prior to the AER volumetric-reporting deadline in PETRINEX.

Question: Is a list of all of the wells affected by BSHIP available in Excel format?
Answer: Yes. Request the Excel file from

Question: How do these changes affect abandoned wells?
Answer: The AER requires more accurate records for all wells, whether actively producing or not.

Question: How can the latitude/longitude difference be converted to metres?
Answer: The difference between the new latitude/longitude and the old latitude/longitude can be calculated in an Excel spreadsheet using the following formula:

=ACOS(COS(RADIANS(90-Old Latitude)) *COS(RADIANS(90-New Latitude)) +SIN(RADIANS(90-Old Latitude)) *SIN(RADIANS(90-New Latitude)) *COS(RADIANS(Old Longitude-New Longitude))) *6371*1000



Surfacehole Questions

Question: Do the surface-hole coordinate changes only affect wells with application dates between 2005 and 2006, or do they affect all wells with directional surveys?
Answer: The surface-hole coordinate changes will affect all wells with well licence application dates between 2005 and 2006, whether or not the well submitted a directional survey.
The phase 2 data changes (for bottomhole) will affect all wells that submitted directional survey data.
All impacted wells will be listed in the attachment to the NOTICE TO REVIEW LIST OF AFFECTED WELLS.

Question: The e-mail address provided on the NOTICE TO REVIEW LIST OF AFFECTED WELLS: Bottom and Surface Hole Integrity Project (BSHIP): Correction of Surface Hole Values is generating an undeliverable notice; how do I contact the Directive 056 Helpline?
Answer: The correct e-mail address is

Question: The letter sent to licensees regarding the correction of surfacehole values contained a list with columns titled status fluid, status mode, status type, and status structure. Could you please provide definitions for these column titles?
Answer: These columns define the well status, which identifies the current state of the wellbore at a given point in time. Attached is a list of the well status codes with definitions for each value. The Well/Licence Status Matrix found on various AER directive webpages could also be of assistance.

Question: What action should licensees take regarding the list of revised surface-hole latitudes and longitudes provided by the AER?
Answer: The AER would like to ensure the licensee has an opportunity to review the changes before they are deployed. As per Bulletin 2011-18, the licensee has 15 business days from the date of the letter in which to review the list and appeal. If for some reason you disagree with the proposed change to any of your wells, you can submit the appeal via

If a licensee does not notify the AER of its disagreement in accordance with the procedure noted above, the AER will proceed on the basis that the licensee agrees with the changes made by the AER.

Question: Why are the AER surface-hole latitudes and longitudes (SH lat/long) different from the values in our well site survey and well licence application?
Answer: The AER recognizes the need to maintain relative consistency of surface-hole values for mapping purposes (i.e., SH lat/long should be universally calculated and surveyed in the same manner). Well licensee–submitted SH lat/long is calculated using various standards. AER SH lat/long is a relatively consistent set of data derived from surface-hole offsets (north/south and east/west distances) submitted with the well licence application using a consistent geographic datum (North American datum of 1983 [NAD83]) and ATS-grid standard version 4.1. If a well’s surface location has been calculated using other geographic datum (e.g., North American datum of 1927 [NAD27]) and versions prior to ATS-grid standard version 4.1, then the SH lat/long will not match the AER calculation.

Question: Does the list of revised surface-hole latitudes and longitudes provided by the AER use NAD27 or NAD83?
Answer: The SH lat/long values are in NAD83 and in ATS-grid standard version 4.1. The AER has been using NAD83 since 2003, as per General Bulletin GB 2003-30, and ATS-grid standard version 4.1 since November 1, 2005, as per Bulletin 2005-16.

Question: After these changes have taken place and a customer requests a well licence file from the AER, will the changes be recorded in the well licence document?
Answer: The SH lat/long changes will neither amend the well licence, nor generate a disposition document for the well licensee. The AER is still using the submitted surface-hole offsets (north/south and east/west distances) from the well licence application to derive the SH lat/long using NAD83 and ATS-grid standard version 4.1.

Question: What is the difference between the “old” and “new” lat/long values on the list of surface-hole changes provided by the AER?
Answer: Both old and new coordinates are AER calculations derived from surface-hole offsets given on the well licence application (i.e., the well site plans). The old coordinates were incorrectly calculated from an earlier version of the electronic application system (EAS). The AER is correcting the old coordinates with better data, which are identified as new coordinates on the list.

Question: Some plans use a different version of the ATS; will these plans need to be changed if they are different from the version used by the AER?
Answer: There is no current requirement to amend already submitted survey plans to an ATS-grid standard version 4.1.

Question: Were the BSHIP surface-hole coordinate changes initiated because of incorrect information and corresponding survey plans submitted on the original well licence application?
Answer: No. The BSHIP surface-hole coordinate changes were not undertaken due to erroneous surface-hole values or incorrect well site surveys submitted by industry.

Question: We submitted our original well licence application using NAD83; why do the new locations on the list provided by the AER still differ from our survey plan?
Answer: The variance could be due to the use of a different version of the ATS grid. The AER is using NAD83 and ATS-grid standard version 4.1.

Question: Are the surface-hole coordinates in the list sent to licensees from the same source as the list provided to data vendors (i.e., IHS), or is this a separate, unrelated set of data?
Answer: These surface-hole coordinates are included in the AER general well file to which some data vendors subscribe. The AER is not aware of how the data vendors upload, use, and display the AER surface-hole coordinates.



Bottomhole Questions

Question: How will a licensee know when the UWI change has been completed?
Answer: The AER will amend the UWI via a bottomhole licence amendment. An automatically generated e-mail notification will be created along with disposition documents and will be e-mailed to the contact identified in the well licence application documents.

Question: What standards did the AER use in calculating bottomhole data?
Answer: The AER uses the ATS-grid standard version 4.1, NAD83, True North for azimuthal reference on directional surveys, minimum curvature method for the directional survey calculations and universal transverse Mercator (UTM) map-projection algorithms as standards to calculate final bottomhole coordinates.

Question: How did the AER determine the UWI?
Answer: The AER maps the well’s bottomhole location to ATS-grid standard version 4.1. The UWI is determined by the well’s bottomhole location at total depth.

Question: Why are our bottomhole coordinate values different to those of the AER?
Answer: Any one of the following factors or a combination of the following factors could contribute to the discrepancy:

  • Differences in surface-hole latitude and longitude: the AER’s surface-hole latitude and longitude coordinates could be different because they are calculated based on the surface-hole metes/bounds submitted with the well licence using ATS-grid standard version 4.1, NAD83, and UTM map-projection algorithms.
  • Differences in standards: the AER uses ATS-grid standard version 4.1, NAD83, True North for azimuthal reference, Minimum Curvature Method for the directional survey calculation, and UTM map-projection algorithms.
  • Inconsistent directional survey data: for example, the north/south and east/west distances and shifts in the directional survey report could be referenced to the section boundaries rather than to the well centre, which the AER requires.
  • Incorrect road allowance assumptions: the AER determines road allowance dimensions based on ATS-grid standard version 4.1.

Question: How did the AER determine bottomhole latitude/longitude and metes/bounds?
Answer: The bottomhole coordinates are determined using the following procedure:

  • Surface-hole latitude and longitude and UTM coordinates are calculated based on the surface-hole metes/bounds submitted with the well licence using ATS-grid standard version 4.1, NAD83, and UTM map-projection algorithms.
  • For each surveyed vertex/station, the UTM coordinates are calculated by adding the north/south and east/west distances and shifts from the directional survey (converted to north/south and east/west distances and shifts in the UTM coordinate system) and the surface-hole UTM coordinates; the UTM coordinates of each surveyed vertex/station are then converted to latitude and longitude coordinates.
  • The latitude and longitude or UTM coordinates at the last surveyed depth or the extrapolated total depth represent the bottomhole location; the metes/bounds of the bottomhole are calculated by mapping the bottomhole to ATS-grid standard version 4.1

Question: How did AER determine the maximum true vertical depth?
Answer: The maximum true vertical depth (max TVD) is the deepest vertical depth reached by the wellbore as reported in the directional survey report.

Question: If a well operator needs more time than the 15 business days to review the list of affected wells, can the AER grant an extension?
Answer: Yes, it can. Send an e-mail to  with the grounds for extension and the proposed extension date. Please note that extensions are for UWI changes only. AER cannot grant an extension for the bottomhole upload for latitude and longitude, bottomhole metes/bounds (i.e., offsets), and max TVD changes because the job is automated. This upload happens from August 2 to September 2. If there is a disagreement for any of these values (lat/long, metes/bounds, and max TVD), resolution cannot begin until after the upload.

For wells with an outstanding UWI change, the bottomhole latitude and longitude and the bottomhole metes/bounds might already show the well’s bottomhole location, but the UWI remains unchanged until processed. If this well is under appeal or review, the bottomhole latitude and longitude and the bottomhole metes/bounds will be corrected (if needed) once the disagreement or case is resolved and closed.

Question: Why is a well on the bottomhole UWI changes list showing the suggested UWI in the same DLS (Legal Subdivision-Section-Township-Range-Meridian) portion of the well’s UWI?
Answer: If the suggested UWI is the same as the current well UWI, please check if the road allowance column is populated with an “S” (for south) or a “W” (for west). If the well has a bottomhole location in a road allowance, only the location exception code is changed to an S or a W.

Question: If my UWI has changed since the original licence application, do I need to have the UWI changed on submissions sent to the AER?
Answer: Data submitted to the AER, including directional survey reports and well logs, should reflect the current UWI. If the UWI has already been changed prior to the submission, the submitted reports should now reflect the new UWI. If there is an anticipated UWI change for the well but the bottomhole licence application has not yet been processed, the well operator must still use the current UWI and not the projected UWI.

Question: Were the recent directional surveys awaiting the usual AER processing included in this project and the bottomhole UWI change lists?
Answer: Yes, directional surveys that the AER received up to June 2011 were included in the BSHIP list.

Question: How does the use of five decimals in latitudes and longitudes affect the location?
Answer: A change of .00001 degree in the latitude is approximately 1.12 metres. Distance changes in longitude depend on the latitude at which the location lies because longitude lines widen towards the equator and converge towards the poles.

Question: Will directional surveys again be used to change the UWI of the well after it has been drilled?
Answer: This process has not changed. Directional surveys have been and are the basis for determining the bottomhole location and the UWI of directionally drilled wells.

Question: What do I do if a UWI change results in a bottomhole shifting to underlie a road allowance?
Answer: The AER has been made aware of the potential consequences when the UWI is changed for wells where the bottomhole is in a road allowance. The AER will suspend bottomhole license amendments for wells underlying road allowances until a solution is identified.

Question: When will the UWI changes and bottomhole-licence amendments be processed?
Answer: The UWI changes and bottomhole-licence amendments for wells identified under BSHIP began the week of August 8, 2011, and will continue until December 2011.

Changes will occur by sequence of business associate (BA) ID codes beginning with BA ID 0001. Currently, the AER is unable to provide operators with an exact date for their specific changes.

Question: Why is the AER cleaning up bottomhole data for vertical wells?
Answer: The AER system initially sets bottomhole coordinates of vertical wells as equal to the surface-hole coordinates. If a directional survey is run, bottomhole coordinates are updated with values from the directional survey report submitted to the AER. If no directional survey is run, bottomhole coordinates remain equal to the surface-hole coordinates within the system.

The AER ran an exception report to show wells where the bottomhole coordinates are not equal to surface-hole coordinates and where there is no record of directional survey reports having been previously received and processed. The bottomhole coordinates of these wells have been reset as equivalent to the surface-hole coordinates. If these wells were directionally drilled, the well licensee must submit a copy of the directional survey report to the AER so the well can be mapped and the bottomhole location determined.