At the height of the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan addressed Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev regarding an arms control treaty with an expression from an old Russian proverb: "doveryai, no proveryai" (trust, but verify
). Reagan’s message was clear: even if a source of information may be thought of as reliable, validate its accuracy. Reagan subsequently used this expression often when discussing US-Soviet relations and it has since become known as one of his signature phrases.
In the oil and gas industry, "trust, but verify" most readily applies to natural gas and hydrocarbon liquid sales verification. In the absence of routine, rigorous checks-and-balances and audits, "trust" may continue to be there but the need to "verify" still exists. Beginning with the development and implementation of a hydrocarbon measurement policy
, the latest systems and technologies should be fully leveraged to collect, analyze, process, reconcile, and record the information related to all custody transfer activities.
On the liquids side, run tickets for all transfers should be fully electronic and immediately generated upon completion of each transfer, with a comprehensive and dependable audit trail that’s readily accessible by all entitled parties. The use of relevant mobile apps and web-based services can further the overall timeliness and efficiency of information dissemination and sharing. Even without direct interface to LACT unit controllers and similar instrumentation, advanced software can provide the foundation for electronic ticketing. Downstream systems then permit comprehensive data processing, validating, editing, storing and balancing…including identification and resolution of unacceptable gains or losses.
For natural gas, orifice measurement is generally used for custody transfer determinations, as governed by the sales agreement. While the data collection and processing steps are well documented, a major challenge continues to be minimization of "Lost and Un-Accounted For" (LUAF) volumes. Here, too, data validation and editing are fundamental to fair, accurate, and timely reconciliation of custody transfers. Mutual trust between buyer and seller predominates; verification validates that trust.
"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters."
~ Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist and humanist