November 1998


CDA delivers Seismic Navigation Database (November 1998)

Common Data Access Ltd, the UK’sindustry-funded National Data Repository has just announced the delivery of its newseismic navigation database which will be available to participating CDA user companiesfrom January 1999.

With the well database behind them, CDA is moving steadily towards its goal of a comprehensive National Data Repository for UKCS data. The current phase focuses on seismic shot point data and is made up of UKKOA positional data in P1/90 format for the majority of UKCS 2D seismic surveys, together with polygonal outlines of 3D surveys. The seismic data is presented graphically against a backdrop of well locations and cultural information. Access to the system is via a web browser-enabled GIS front end from MSI of Calgary. CDA users will now have a single view of all UKCS offshore seismic surveys and their current owners. Users will be able to ‘drill down’ into the database to select and download navigation information for surveys to which they are entitled.

Seismics not on-line

No on-line access to the seismic data is planned for the moment, rather the system informs users where they can obtain copies of the seismic trace data. Users can also identify wells in an area of interest for the retrieval of log data through the existing QC Data Axxses application. Next year loading of 3D bin-grid and sail-line data will commence. The system has been delivered on-budget by QC Data (UK) Ltd. and its sub-contractors. PECC (a subsidiary of CGG of France) provided its PetroVision master data base and Stephenson & Associates consulted on entitlements matters. QC Data was responsible for overall project management and systems integration (with support from Hydrosearch) and engineered their Axxses system to include the additional seismic data functionality. The delivery of the navigation database represents the successful completion of the first stage of CDA’s Seismic Phase. It is planned to enhance the system so that seismic trace data, stored in a number of distributed trace data management systems, can be accessed.

Cost cutting

The seismic navigation database was maintained until 1992 by the DTI, but cost cutting measures at that time meant that this work was suspended. Sorting out the entitlements of data acquired since then has been a major issue, and it is possible that some "black holes" may exist, particularly if the partners involved in a survey are not CDA members. The provision of the Petroconsultants seismic database was a valuable starting point for the project. Helen Stephenson of S&A told PDM "Just knowing what seismics is available is a big step forward for the UK Oil and Gas industry". The backdrop to seismic data visibility through CDA is of course the question of the availability of the data itself. When the current phase began, there was an assumption that regulatory changes in the UK would make seismic data public after a period of 6 years. The different stakeholders – the DTI, oil companies and seismic contractors – are still slugging this one out.

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What data model for the 20th century scout? (November 1998)

Speaking at the AGM of the Canadian PublicPetroleum Data Model Association (PPDM), David Richard of IHS Energy (formerly PI/Dwights)gave some pointers to the technological future of data modeling within the newcorporation.

Now that IHS has acquired just about everything that moves in the international scouting arena, the question arises as to how store and deliver data obtained by the erstwhile competing units. In North America, PI/Dwights has settled on a database – P2000 that is derived from the PPDM data model, which has been extended with the Erico well log data model. Elsewhere in the organization, Petroconsultants Iris21 and IEDS’ PEN data models hold sway. Whatever the relative merits of the different models, and there are significant differences between US and international ways of handling data, the question being asked by many international major oil companies is "why do we have so many data models around here?". Richard’s work-in-progress report on how IHS was responding to such requests – notably a plea from Exxon to "standardize things" – outlined a phased approach.

PEN – a write-off?

In the first instance, the P2000, PEN and Iris21 databases are to be made accessible in a consistent manner through a middleware layer. This would use PPDM-derived views of data stored in any of the databases, to supply data to desktop browsers such as Power Tools. Subsequent phases will evaluate possible merges of the different databases. It is probable that the first target will be the PEN based data, which will likely migrate to IRIS21 – even though Petroconsultants is now being run by IEDS management. But the big issue for IHS is the possible migration or merger of data in Iris21 and P2000. Defenders of Iris21 have always argued that the scope of their data model – especially in its capacity to store time variant data such as license and scouting information – was such that a merge to a more constrained data model would engender data loss.

Platform of choice

Current studies (being performed by Data Model guru Ian King from Open Data Designs) suggest that while significant differences do exist between P2000 and Iris21, they are mainly in areas where Iris21 is sparsely populated. A loader already exists for moving data from PPDM to Iris, but the ultimate platform of choice, as gleaned from a recent IHS workshop with both domestic and international clients, will likely be based on the PPDM standard. The jury is still out on whether this will involve a migration of Iris to P2000, or (most likely) a middleware layer which exposes PPDM – views of data from the different data sources.

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News from Calgary, PPDM alive and well. (November 1998)

PDM’s editor Neil McNaughton attended theAGM of the Public Petroleum Data Model Association in Calgary Alberta last month and foundan organization in good health if a little strapped for cash.

For those of you who are new to this game, or have short memories I would like to offer a brief recap of the situation regarding ‘standard’ data models for E&P software. There are, as you must know, two competing models. One, Epicentre from the Petrotechnical Open Software Corporation and the other from the Calgary-based Public Petroleum Data Model Association (PPDM). Over the last few years there have been a couple of attempts – initiated by frustrated oil company clients – to knock heads together and have just one E&P data model - most recently last year with the ill-fated project Discovery, but to no avail. During this time, software vendors have had so many mixed messages from their clients – from mandating compliance with one or other of the standards, to total apathy - that they have had a pretty tricky game to play. Past issues of PDM have set out some of the finer points of all this dancing on the head of a needle, right now I just want to focus on the state of play today.

POSC - PPDM

Both the major vendors have staked their marketing effort on compliance with the POSC standard rather than PPDM – in my opinion an almost arbitrary decision based more on the marketeer’s perception than on an underlying technology. But having visited with both POSC and PPDM this year, I can assure you there is neither glee in the POSC camp, nor despondency chez PPDM. In reality, one senses that both POSC and PPDM are having a hard time re-inventing themselves in a world where most companies really no longer have the time to think about – let alone devote real resources to the issue of a standard data model.

Does anyone care anymore?

Meanwhile PPDM is doing all the right things. One committee is looking seriously about compliance, with different medals awarded for compliance at the level of Oracle tables, or through Views. Interest in Object technology, and a future migration to Oracle 8 with object extensions is in the air. Bruce Warnke from Shell Services International gave an upbeat presentation of the merits of the Open Spirit Alliance, and encouraged PPDM to get in on the act with a source and sink development for the PPDM data model. While this suggestion was courteously received, some PPDMers did remark that current Open Spirit implementations were working with around 100 attributes in one subject area, whereas the full PPDM data model has some 1100 attributes in four subject areas. The issue of Open Spirit’s scalability was questioned in this context.

No dough!

Another workgroup examined the issues involved in spatially enabling PPDM, aided and abetted by Geoff Wade from ESRI. And all this activity was against the backdrop of the roll out of yet another version of the data model V3.5. But the real problem – both for POSC and PPDM is the chronic lack of funding that is unlikely to improve in the present economic climate. Acquisitions and mergers are a real doom to the public association as they erode membership and funding. Also, while we have the two main software vendors swearing allegiance with POSC, the main data vendor, IHS has re-affirmed its support for the PPDM data model. IHS’ David Richard reported back from gathering of US and international oil company clients, held after the PI/Petroconsultants merger. IHS’ clients were pleading with them for standardization, with a strong endorsement of the PPDM data model as being ‘tangible’. So we have a rather critical situation on our hands here. Our standards organizations are running out of money and support, while their main clients are still engaged – if not in a data model war, at least in a prolonged skirmish. What is the harassed E&P buyer to advise his or her management in such circumstances? Buy best of breed and plug everything together with Geoshare or Open Spirit? Or go for a single vendor solution – except that no single vendor does both applications and data! Anyone got any good ideas?

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Oracle 8 Seminar (November 1998)

PDM was invited to a one day seminar,presented by Doug Benson (D A Benson & Associates) – to learn all about designingan Oracle 8 database with objects. We offer this digest of an excellent course, and anintroduction to what OO means to Oracle.

When you think of Oracle 8 and objects, you think of Object Extensions and the Cartridge technology. But a careful reading of the course title indicates that this was not a seminar on these topics. The Oracle 8 Object Design seminar focused on the actual process of designing a database with OO techniques. Rather than attempt to say what an object is – or what OO means, Benson offered a functional definition of the different users of the technologies. Currently Oracle provides tools for database designers which focus on the use of SQL.

E-R or UML?

The new design tools cater for programmers who require a C++ Application Programming Interface (API). Just as relational database designers use Entity-Relational modeling tools such as Oracle’s Designer 2000, the new Object Database Designer route to a C++ API uses the object world’s equivalent, Universal Modeling Language (UML) design tools. We offer the following table to help distinguish between the C++ OO brigade and the SQL coders.

Activity

C++ meat eaters

"Object"

SQL quiche nibblers

"Relational"

Programming

C++

SQL

Design

UML

Entity-Relation Diagrams

Database Access

API

SQL parser

Oracle Tool

Object Database Designer

Designer 2000

What they read

Dr Dobbs Journal

Supermarket Tabloids

While Oracle 8 is still basically a relational database, it increasingly incorporates functionality that allow the user to model objects that are hard to fit into the conventional object world. As an example, consider well log trace data. The ‘natural’ way of modeling this is as some sort of header relating to the well’s position and other metadata, and some big vectors representing the trace information. It is possible to store each log value in a table of the database as a depth-value pair, but this is inefficient, since extra metadata must be stored with each pair of values. This may not seem too much of an issue, but in the case of a well log tool acquiring multiple measurements per depth point, the concept of tables within tables comes in, and the need for non-relational modeling rears its head naturally.

UML = Express?

The provision of a C++ API can, in the simplest case, involve reverse engineering an existing Oracle DB into the Object Database Designer (ODD). This currently produces a proprietary graphical notation, but is ‘moving to’ UML. The UML can then be edited before itself being used to produce C++ code. Those familiar with the POSC Epicentre data model will know that it is designed in Express. The UML language can be thought of as a graphical equivalent of Express. Some limitations of the OO design technology were emphasized in the seminar. It is not intended that the OO technology be implemented in a totally uncompromising manner. There are limits to the amount of imbrication in a design and OO concepts such as inheritance are implemented in a half-hearted sort of a way. Marketing-wise this is a fairly astute approach from Oracle. OO databases have had a checkered past, and the ring fencing of the OO design in ODD would allow Oracle to carry on with a mainstream relational product with even limited interest for the ODD side of things. If it does pick up, the technology could be given more exposure.

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Microsoft Reveals All; E&P directions and database access technologies explained.(November 1998)

We have decided to ignore (for the moment) thebrouhaha surrounding Microsoft’s legal battles and to try to find out exactly whatMicrosoft has to offer the oil business. We interviewed Scott Fawcett, Microsoft’sGlobal Energy Industry Manager, and did a little bit of investigating of our own with avisit to Microsoft’s Energy Industry Website.

PDM interviewed Scott Fawcett Microsoft’s Global Energy Industry Manager and Technology Evangelist Dan Rogers to learn about Microsoft’s strategic direction with regards to the oil and gas sector, with particular reference to database access technologies.

PDM. In an E&P application, there are typically of the order of a million lines of code – nearly all written on UNIX. To make matters more difficult (for Microsoft), the main database deployed in the upstream is Oracle, and most E&P companies will have a multiplicity of Oracle databases. While Microsoft has made significant inroads with Windows front-end clients, what will be the key Microsoft technologies that will make peoples lives easier? In particular, in what is de-facto a heterogeneous environment, what is Microsoft’s recommended route for building a federating query engine?

Microsoft [Dan Rogers] In this context, our core technology is SQL Server 7.0 and Heterogeneous Query. These tools will allow you to federate databases from Oracle, Sybase, and also link to Access, DB/2 or practically anything. If you can get to it with ODBC, SQL Server 7.0 can serve as the single federated data source, without a requirement for replication.

PDM. In a world of multiple databases - many of which share the same information – how does Microsoft handle issues such as synchronicity, data replication, clean up - in fact 'data management'?

Microsoft [Dan Rogers] This problem is endemic, regardless of database technology. The problem related to islands of data is bigger than any simple "technology remedy". Addressing this issue requires case by case thinking to bring an enterprise data movement architecture into place. As the number of database servers grow, regardless of vendor, crafting a credible replication plan that meets the needs of the business in the success case, but that also can accommodate the need to take back-ups, is critical. This won't happen because of anyone's database technology on the market today. The problem is huge and gets harder as you expand the scope of your replication requirements. Consider that replication is a "loose synchronization" technology in the first place. What does it mean to "have a backup" of the system that exists in ten locations, each with dependencies and pointers into the others? To restore means to move everything back to a point in time. So the problem of dealing with Oracle, which is just another database in the sea of databases has very little bearing on synchronicity - except to note that the Oracle replication engine and tools is ONLY capable of dealing with Oracle databases -- SQL 7 Heterogeneous query eliminates some of the need for replicated and synchronized copies of data in the first place.

PDM. Bill Gates made an impressive Video taped talk at the Landmark conference announcing cooperation on the COM on UNIX front. How exactly is this being deployed? Is this really mainstream MS technology? Do other industries use it?

Microsoft [Dan Rogers] Go to the COM Web site for links on getting copies of COM on Unix. There are several vendors involved in porting COM not only to Unix, but to MVS as well. http://www.microsoft.com/com/comResource.asp#Downloads .

PDM. What are the other technicalities of the COM on UNIX deployment. Is UML used? Is COM used to wrap legacy code, or is there going to be COM based business objects?

Microsoft [Dan Rogers] UML is a modeling tool, and as such not related at all to the underlying interoperability technology. Rational Rose 98 now supports UML extensions for COM components and code generation support for the same. COM on Unix, at a technical level, relies on IDL, in the same manner that COM on NT does.

PDM. Does Microsoft intend to become involved in the POSC INTEROP work-group on Business Objects? Is there linkage with the Open Spirit Alliance?

Microsoft [Scott Fawcett]. Microsoft is talking to POSC, and has made presentations in the POSC office. We understand that POSC is supportive of open standards. POSC has been evolved with the OpenSpirit people since they have been active in the geophysical space and their activity on the surface appears like the only game in town. We do believe that POSC is supportive of COM since many of their members are asking for the object support with NT. With 150+ million COM based systems in the market, many of them in the Oil and Gas Industry, it is sensible to have COM as part of a global industry standards group.

Of relevance to the upstream oil industry are the following COM-based initiatives:

OLE for Process Control (all field transmission and distribution equipment from the wellhead to refinery to retail station, including mobile devices, embedded devices and full SCADA /Monitoring systems). Check out the web sites of Wonderware and ICONICS to see some interesting developments.

Corporate ERP COM interoperability : with companies such as SAP offering DCOM connectors, all areas of the energy industry (retail, refining, process control and E&P) can link technical and financial information for better management. The energy trading folk that are part of the ERP can have a better real-time understanding of their corporations internal position vs. external market conditions. Interoperability across the corporation is key for this to happen.

Even bigger than the interoperability between these initiatives are the areas of Knowledge management and E-commerce. The E-commerce area includes supply chain integration. Combined, we call all 3 of these areas the principal components of the Digital Nervous System in the Energy Industry (see article in this issue)

PDM We have a collection of course notes on various Microsoft distributed computing technologies - from DDE though OLE, ODBC, RDO and we are totally lost as to what is current and what is likely to last.

Microsoft [Dan Rogers] Forget ODBC (except on Unix) and RDO is dead – Microsoft is now promoting the Universal Data Access strategy http://www.microsoft.com/data . Everything you ever wanted to know on the subject in particular how to provide access to information across the enterprise including high-performance access to a variety of information sources, both relational and non-relational, and an easy to use programming interface that is tool and language independent. These technologies enable corporations to integrate diverse data sources, create easy-to-maintain solutions, and use their choice of best of breed tools, applications, and platform services. Universal Data Access components include ActiveX Data Objects (ADO), Remote Data Service, (RDS, formerly known as Advanced Database Connector or ADC), OLE DB, and Open Database Connectivity (ODBC).

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Oil and Gas Industry Benchmarking Facility Opens (November 1998)

Designed to demonstrate the capabilities ofSLQ Server and 64 bit NT vs UNIX, the Resource 2000 Group is opening an ApplicationTechnology Evaluation Center in El Segundo, California.

The Center will offer application technology and performance evaluation services to the Oil and Gas Industry with emphasis on demonstrating the potential for Windows NT 5.0 and SQL Server 7.0 for upstream applications. Planned projects include, evaluating the performance of Oracle UNIX against Oracle NT 5.0 and Oracle UNIX against SQL Server 7.0 using real industry-supplied data and applications. The current hardware configuration consists of a Compaq Alphaserver 4100 with 5 GBytes of 64-bit memory and 140 GBytes of Storage and an IBM Netfinity 5500 M10 with the new Intel Pentium Xeon Processors and 20 Gbytes of Storage. The AlphaServer will be focused on Enterprise NT 5.0 (64-bit NT) and the Netfinity will be using NT 4.0 both addressing applications using SQL Server 7.0 and 3rd party applications. There will be a "modest" administration fee related to using the Center. For more information call Resource 2000 Group on (1) 310.414.0838 or www.r2kgroup.com.

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Got $250 million to spare? Buy yourself a Digital Nervous System. (November 1998)

BP have gone for an 'all Microsoft'solution to their distributed computing requirements with the Common Operating Environment(COE). This allows BP executives to work from any location in the world as if they weresitting at their desk, and has brought other benefits in terms of improved informationsharing and knowledge work.

In BP’s brave new world of downsized and outsourced functions, the happy(?) few who are still actually working for BP are receiving special attention from the IT department. John Browne, BP’s aggressive CEO likes IT. He also likes knowledge. IT is good because "it makes rich exchange possible without formal structure" while knowledge "is wonderful because it is relatively inexpensive to replicate, if you can capture it". BP has therefore embarked on a $250 million re-tooling of its IT system – dubbed the Common Operating Environment AKA the Digital Nervous System.

Macs off!

The COE initiative is an all-Microsoft, all-PC environment, which created some dissent with many of BP’s Macintosh aficionados. Server Side Windows NT machines support Microsoft Exchange and Internet Information Server. The client side has been standardized on a Windows 95 system running Microsoft Office and Explorer. BP’s E&P unit was the first to deploy the new system, and global travelers report with satisfaction on the ease with which they can work from different offices, at home or even in a hotel at a remote location. The Knowledge Work aspect of the COE is achieved with Microsoft Exchange Public Folders. Already these are used to federate users with common interests.

Green teams

Examples of such groups are the Green Operations, and Produced Water Networks. Virtual Teamwork Videoconferencing has been deployed to link on and off-shore workers in BP’s Gulf of Mexico operations. A spin-off of the system is that instead of hiring a consultant to research an obscure topic, the full-text searching capability on the corporate knowledge base often comes up with the answer. An element of the solution, BP-Connect, allows individuals to submit a personalized CV with details of interests and skills. This can be searched across the organization, and has been used to form the virtual teams. The monetary rewards attached to the $250 million investment are "conservatively" estimated as around $25 million per year. We are not sure whether such an ROR would pass muster with BP’s investors, but in any case, BP argue that there is more than an immediate monetary return on this investment. The real reward will be in the cultural changes and enhanced learning environment, as teams form and work across cultural and geographical boundaries.

It works!

One BP source told PDM "It works! COE brought uniformity to BP from a certain degree of chaos, which included a mixed Mac/PC environment, different software, and different versions of even the basic Office programs. There was a certain amount of misery for some Mac users, including me, who wondered if we couldn't have achieved Mac/PC interchange and compatibility instead, and at rather less cost than full-scale re-equipment, but in retrospect COE was definitely the right way to go. The other great benefit has been portability. You can step into Melbourne, log on to an unused computer, and access your own servers in London. With some degree of preparation, you can take your own lap-top and simply plug it into a docking station in any BP office, and work as though you were at home with your own servers, printers, mail and files. You can dial in to the system with your lap-top if you're not at a BP office, or work off-line and subsequently plug in and "re-equilibrate" between your machine and your home server." Yet another BP source told PDM "The money BP spent going to COE was the best value for money IT investment BP ever made. It gave us real worldwide connectivity for the first time".

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PETREL- 3D Visualization, 3D Mapping and 3D Reservoir Modeling (November 1998)

TechnoGuide has released PETREL forWindows-based 3D visualization, Mapping and Reservoir Modeling.

The first version of PETREL, PETREL99, is described as an "easy to use shared earth modeling tool". Faulted 2D and 3D grids describing a complex reservoir setting can be set up and used to model petrophysical properties, perform volumetrics and design well trajectories. The Windows platform makes reporting, plotting and interactions with other Windows applications easy with copy/paste of graphics from PETREL to PowerPoint as one example. PCs have proven to be capable of performing very well on large data sets and are no longer a constraint on project size. Processors, RAM and graphics limitations are all eliminated, making PCs and Windows software "a real alternative for cost minded geoscientists and managers". More information from www.technoguide.no

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GeoQuest buys OTS software and revamps PowerPlan (November 1998)

GeoQuest has acquired drilling software fromOil Technology Services which will integrate the PC-based Drilling Office Suite. The suitenow also includes a new version of PowerPlan.

GeoQuest has acquired the TDAS Tubular Design and Analysis System and WEST Wellbore Simulated Temperatures programs from Oil Technology Services (OTS). TDAS provides triaxial stress, API load capacity and connection analysis to recently adopted ISO criteria for any casing or tubing string. WEST is a finite difference application that offers both steady-state and transient temperature predictions for a variety of wellbore flow conditions. WEST's field-tested technology lets drilling and completion engineers simulate injection, production, forward and reverse circulation, shut-in conditions, and waiting-on-cement time. "TDAS and WEST are based on over 20 years of proven engineering experience," said Erich Klementich, director of Oil Technology Services.

Rule-based

"This rule-based software is unique in the E&P industry and enables the user to quickly and accurately assess pipe requirements for any well." The noncommercial technology assets that are being acquired will become part of GeoQuest's technological base from which additional drilling and production products will be developed for the Drilling Office. Another Drilling Office compnent, PowerPlan has been revamped. PowerPlan 3.0 combines technology from Schlumberger Oilfield Services and GeoQuest and is already in use with Anadrill and IPM, both at the wellsite and in the planning office. PowerPlan is furthermore described as "part of GeoQuest's POSC-compliant GeoFrame project database and centerpiece for application integration, which enables sharing of data among applications and disciplines".

PDM comment – the most interesting aspect of this press release in our opinion is the last paragraph. We have asked GeoQuest for further information on exactly how this PC – based software (some very recently acquired from OTS) benefits from POSC compliance, or exactly how it integrates the UNIX – based world of GeoFrame. So far no reply has been forthcoming. If anyone out there can enlighten us on how the PC-UNIX-POSC circle has been squared in this context, and whether the POSC compliant tag was added in the design or marketing phase, please let us know.

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Release 98 at last! (November 1998)

Landmark has just announced the delivery ofRelease 98 – the synchronized release of over 50 of Landmark’s UNIX and Windowsapplications.

Landmark has just announced the second synchronized release of its E&P software suite, Release 98. Promising a nirvana of "shared data and knowledge", Release 98 is claimed to offer better integration thanks to the OpenWorks "POSC migration" and from the integration of project, regional, or enterprise-level databases with OpenExplorer. This integration will allow teams to "share and work with the same data, at the same time, in a common environment". Landmark also claims reduced interpretation cycle time with EarthCube by combining a full 3D interpretation system, well planning, and high performance on both Sun and Silicon Graphics workstations. Release 98 is a concurrent release that will allow companies to install and deploy an entire integration information solution at one time. To rapidly employ the benefits of Release 98, Landmark offers services in training, assistance in designing and implementing new workflows, assessment of hardware and software configurations, data migration to the new OpenWorks data model, and tuning to achieve optimal performance. John W. Gibson, executive vice president of the Landmark Integrated Products Group, claims that Release 98 "provides improvements to performance by 200% or greater for initialization across most applications".

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PGS confirms PetroBank acquisition (November 1998)

As forecast in PDM (Vol 3 N 9) PGS hasacquired the PetroBank product line from IBM. PGS are now sketching out the way forwardfor PetroBank, and IBM outlines the current scope of their oil business activity.

PGS has acquired the PetroBank Product Family for both continued internal use and to meet the external data management requirements of the petroleum industry. PGS will continue selling, marketing and enhancing PetroBank technology solutions for the E&P marketplace by combining innovative technology and E&P data expertise to provide cost-effective solutions to the E&P Industry’s data challenges. PGS will continue to partner with Baker Atlas and their RECALL well log database. RECALL is an integrated component (the PetroBank Well Log Module) of the Master Data Store. Arvid Qvanvik, President of PGS Data Management said "PGS plans to further enhance and customize the IBM products to meet the ever-changing needs of the E&P marketplace. In addition, we will continue to use this technology combined with our E&P data knowledge to make PGS Data Management the number one supplier of integrated data management solutions, worldwide. PGS will provide continuity of support and development for existing users,".Perhaps PDM went a little over the top when we said that IBM had thrown in the towel? The official position is that IBM will "continue to market consulting, systems integration and information technology infrastructure to exploration & production customers, and will work closely with PGS, oil companies and service providers in the industry".

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New functions for George (November 1998)

George, a Windows 95/NT – basedapplication for generating digital or hardcopy maps from a global geographic vectordatabase now includes CGM and Landmark Metafile output. George is supplied populated withdata from the Digital Chart of the World.

George is a vector mapping application bundled with features include coastlines, land and sea cover, and layered cultural data. Textual information includes up to date country names, cities, towns, and other geographical features. The application allows the user to select an area of the world, buildup and view a map on their screen. The map can then be exported to a file (DXF, CGM, XGEO, Landmark Metafile etc.) or printed to any Windows printer or large format plotter. All the data and application is supplied on one CD-ROM. George can output to DXF, CGM certain ASCII files (such as XGEO, Landmark Metafile) and several graphics formats (BMP, JPG etc.) and can interface with Autocad, Microstation, ArcView, ArcInfo, MapInfo, XGEO, Landmark, Corel Draw, Freehand etc. More information from www.worksaccess.com

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Secure communication with the wellsite. (November 1998)

John Curtis (Petrolink) and Ian Hayes (BHPPetroleum) have contributed the following article on secure communications with the wellsite. Petrolink allows oil companies to share data between head office and the well-siteusing Lotus Notes and SSL data encryption.

The massive increase in connectivity between companies has started a revolution in the way that information is shared between companies in the Oil & Gas Industry, but there are several potential pitfalls in using the Internet for mission critical and or confidential data transmission. The Petrolink provides a secure means for the distribution of wellsite data both internally within a company, externally to joint-venture partners and to other interested parties. Secure Lotus Notes Domino Servers are used which can be accessed through private communications links or through the Internet itself.

Domino

The Lotus Notes Domino Server enables bi-directional data exchange over the Internet by a Browser using SSL data encryption. The Domino Servers use Lotus Notes databases, so that where a company uses a Lotus Notes Client or Server at the well-site or remote office it is possible to completely automate the process of ‘replicating’ data directly to and from the Domino Servers according to well-defined rules. In order to protect information during transfer over the Internet, the Domino Servers use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption. Information on the Domino Servers is stored in its native format within a structured database and does not need to be reformatted in any way unless this is specifically requested for ease of information distribution. In this way drilling reports, logs, seismics and pretty well any E&P document (including binaries and raw data) can be accessed remotely. Since the data is held as individual records within a structured database, it is possible to present various ‘views’ of the records, with data sorted by Date, Record Type, Rig or Well. Data from many Wells can be grouped within a ‘Field’ database, so that the structure is suitable for both current and historic data. For cross platform document portability the Adobe Acrobat PDF format is used.

Eavesdropping

Because Internet traffic can be transmitted via any route across the web, with the right knowledge and equipment, a person can redirect transmissions to and from almost any other computer on the internet via their own computer, allowing them to eavesdrop on files, mail and even passwords. Petrolink deals with this problem in a way that is practically transparent to the user. When entering the Petrolink Calgary site address, you may notice it is "Https://calgary.petrolink.net", rather than the more usual "Http:" – indicating a secure site. The browser sends a request to the site for the opening page and the server replies to this request that it is a secure site and then server and client negotiate a secure, encrypted connection.

Firewall

Other security attacks by site break-in are countered by the firewall, which restricts what sort of Internet protocols can be used. Only Web Browser protocols HTTP and HTTPS are admitted which effectively means that the only possible connection to Petrolink Web Servers is through an Internet Browser or via another Lotus Notes server or client. As a final precaution all access to the site is recorded for IP addresses, data downloaded, server status codes and so on. This enables Petrolink operators to monitor all site activity for unusual occurrences - for example a user working from multiple IP addresses, or a user accessing the site at unlikely times. The above measures keep unauthorized users out of the site, but also ensures that authorized Petrolink users cannot access data on the site in which they have no legitimate interest.

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The Y2k Quiz (November 1998)

Tim Oxler, Year 2000 guru from St. Louis hasposted a set of 25 questions and answers concerning the Y2K problem on his web page at.Check them out, better still check out your Y2K consultants to see if they really knowtheir onions.

Hell will not break lose just on the 1st of January 2000, several other dates are critical, some of which have already passed and wreaked their havoc already. For example way back in the 1970’s, many of those working with mainframe JCL used the parameter LABEL=RETPD=9999. To meant, "save forever" any output data tape being used and cataloged. What many failed to notice on the 16th August 1972 was that the retention period of 9,999 days expired and all Cataloged Tapes using this parameter expired, because 1972/08/16 was 9999 days before 2000/01/01. Much essential data was lost when this error occurred. A bit further in the future, on the first of July 2000 different problems may occur. This date will be, for many companies, the end of the first business week in the year 2000, and some programs (or will not) will run for the very first time on that Friday, in the company's Weekly batch processing. So the message is, do not breathe a big sigh of relief after January 1st 2000 has passed, there are quite a few follow up dates when disaster could strike. Check them all out on http://www.teo-computer.com.

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DAEX Version 4.0 announced (November 1998)

Version 4.0 of Oilfield Systems DAEX, theE&P data exchange application, now provides links to GeoFrame, Z&S recall andCGG/PECC’s PetroVision

Steve Hawtin, Oilfield Systems’ Technical Director, claims "DAEX is being adopted to solve the challenge of data migration among vendor and proprietary stores. Eventually all vendors may build applications that have a single common data store. For the foreseeable future however, data will need to be transferred between stores. There is a significant business need to move OpenWorks project data to GeoFrame, RECALL log data to Epicentre, FINDER picks to proprietary mapping applications and countless similar exchanges. That is where DAEX excels! It is the only widely used vendor-neutral exchange mechanism and is finding application in E&P companies around the world". DAEX 4.0 includes, support for direct connectivity to Schlumberger GeoQuest’s GeoFrame database.

GeoFrame devkit at last!

Hawtin explains "Until now we have relied on the DAEX Geoshare interface to move data to and from GeoFrame. The release of the GeoFrame Developer’s Kit by GeoQuest earlier this year means that we are now also able to provide a direct GeoFrame link". DAEX 4.0 includes a link to CGG PECC’s PetroVision database. This DAEX Link is highly strategic as companies adopt Epicentre technology to provide high value corporate stores. DAEX 4.0 also introduces the new link to Z&S GeoScience’s RECALL database. Developed in co-operation with Z&S, and jointly marketed by the two companies, the DAEX RECALL Link provides a path for RECALL log data to be moved to any DAEX-linked application. "RECALL is becoming a de facto corporate store for log data so this is an important addition to DAEX" says Hawtin. More from sales@oilfield-systems.com

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