Tape Ark offers a comprehensive range of open reel 9 and 21 track tape transcription services for the oil and gas industry.

These include:

  • Bit-for-bit data recovery and migration
  • Bit-for-bit tape copy
  • Stiction reversal treatment
  • Demultiplexing SEGA, SEGB and SEGC formats to standard SEGY
  • Reformatting of vintage short record data from SEGY and SEGD to larger blocks sizes
  • Reformatting of vintage proprietary formats such as Western Code, CGG internal, DISCO, Phoenix to standard SEGY
  • RODE encapsulation
  • Navigation data merge
  • Data subsetting of record or shot point ranges
  • Well Log Data reformatting from LIS, DLIS or BIT to standard LAS

Due to the age and/or storage conditions of the remaining 9 and 21 track tapes still in existence today, all of this valuable data is now considered to be at serious risk of imminent, permanent data loss.

Tape Ark uses its own custom designed software, developed to handle many of the complex issues that can be encountered during the transcription of legacy 9 track tape media. Utilizing our extensive inventory of legacy tape drives and infrastructure spanning 60 years of technology, our highly trained and experienced data technicians will ensure that regaining access to and preserving your valuable geophysical data becomes a reality.

Data transcription and migration to the cloud using Tape Ark’s advanced data recovery and transcription workflow is the most logical, reliable and effective data management plan for this at-risk data.

A Little History on Open Reel 9 & 21 Track Tape Media

Open reel 9 and 21 track tapes represent the start of commercially available data storage media and became available to general consumers in the late 1950’s (for 7 track tapes) and the late 1960’s (for 9 track tapes).

Since their release, tens of millions of the tapes have been used to store critical data for a variety of industries, and arguably the largest user of the media was the oil and gas industry.  Large seismic surveys worth millions of dollars were often recorded to 9 track tapes and today, these geophysical legacy tapes are still the largest remaining open reel archives left in the world.

Stiction Reversal Treatment

Over time, the 9 track tape data capacity, length, and recording density, have all increased.  In the early 1980’s, in an effort to increase the capacity of data that could be held on a single reel, many manufacturers made the tapes thinner so that more tape could be wrapped onto a single spool.  The change in the manufacturing process and delicate balance of chemicals in an effort to the tapes thinner, resulted in an unexpected and potentially disastrous effect.

This effect is now well known in the oil and gas industry as Stiction (Sticky-Friction).  This delicate condition caused the oxide on the tape to become sticky and delicate and if not handled correctly, would result in permanent data loss.

Tape Ark have developed proven procedures that allow even the stickiest of tapes to be read with maximum data recovery achieved.

Back to main Oil & Gas data management services page.

NB: Some services not currently available in all geographical locations – please Contact Us for availability.


Tape Ark prides itself on its technical capability. Customers feel assured their objectives and unique challenges are well understood – what’s important to them, where they’re headed, and the opportunities that lie ahead.

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Knowledge is power – but only if the knowledge is accessible. To move forward we must look back, understand the data we have and start thinking about how to utilize it – this is a big data frame of mind.

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