March 1998


'Good morning. I'm Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft'. (March 1998)

Bill Gates was a surprise 'visitor' at theLandmark Worldwide Technology Forum announcing that Microsoft was to work with Landmark onthe deployment of the COM interoperability standard on UNIX.

The video-taped greeting from Redmond sure woke up the attendees at the 1998 Landmark Worldwide Technology Forum. John Gibson, Executive VP of Landmark's Integrated Products Group was presenting the merits of interoperability between the worlds of UNIX and Windows and was down in the technological depths of COM object technology on UNIX. This initiative (revealed in the January edition of PDM) heralds an alliance between Landmark and Microsoft and will allow PC based applications to call up data and compute resources running on UNIX machines. Just as a few technologically challenged members of the audience were ready to drop off for the pre-prandial snooze, Gibson electrified the audience by calling his first witness, no other than BG himself.

PR Victory

As you can judge from the text of the address below - it wasn't so much the content - fairly bland stuff really - as the coup de theatre which impressed. A major PR victory for Landmark. Where will it take us? In this issue we analyze COM on UNIX, and the concomitant move to NT. A less spectacular, but nonetheless important announcement at the Worldwide Technology Forum was the adoption by Landmark of GoCad as the motor for their Shared Earth Model (SEM). We take an in-depth look at the SEM - a major new focus of industry interest. But first back to the keynote speeches..

Sacred Cows

The day before Gate's surprise visit, a talk by Gary Hamel offered a highly entertaining demolition of a few icons of the corporate business scene. Hamel's thesis is that we are coming to the end of "faster better cheaper" and it is time to do something different. Announcing the "end of incremental change", Hamel let us in on the strategy industry's dirty secret - "we don't know where new wealth is coming from". Describing strategic planing as an oxymoron - like "British cuisine" or "military intelligence", Hamel encouraged corporations to use young people, people at the geographical periphery of the organization and newcomers to a company. "There are revolutionaries in every company - find them and use them". Hamel was scathing of downsizing - claiming that it failed in two thirds of the corporations where it had been tried.

Disorderly conduct?

Another target for Hamel's acid wit was the corporate merger. Hamel asked "why have a behemoth?" and described some mergers as "tying two drunks together - it doesn't make 'em sober". Two days after Hamel's talk Dresser and Halliburton -soberly- announced a 7.7$ billion merger - the largest ever in the oil service patch. More on this in an action packed PDM…

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Full text of Gate's address (March 1998)

'Good morning, I'm Bill Gates CEO of Microsoft.'

At Microsoft, we're very excited about the strategic direction that Landmark Graphics has chosen. By developing and delivering applications on Windows NT and selecting the Component Object Model as the mechanism for interoperability, Landmark has taken a leading role in the integration of energy technology. As Landmark develops applications that are critical to the oil and gas industry, Microsoft is committed to making sure you have access to the resources you need to build the best applications possible. We're starting to see broad acceptance of Windows NT in different industries that require highly scalable and scientific solutions. Microsoft's industry partners such as Intel, HP, SGI, Compaq and Digital are doing great work to develop new, progressive high-performance workstations using Windows NT.

A major reason for the success of Windows NT is its interoperability with mainframes and UNIX systems. Our COM-based initiatives make interoperability a reality between Windows-based applications and applications that are not Windows-based. This interoperability allows customers to take advantage of COM and Windows NT while maintaining their investments in existing applications and systems. Microsoft wants to help you preserve your investment while enhancing your future applications capabilities by providing a consistent foundation that can be deployed at all levels, from discovering energy sources beneath the Earth's surface to delivering products and services to consumers. Even more broadly, Microsoft has made a strategic commitment to endorse and facilitate COM based standards development in many industries as an open process. We are ready to work with Landmark, energy companies and standards organizations to help ensure that interoperability is an open process. Thank you.

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Now we have to 'Share' the Earth (March 1998)

PDM's Editor Neil McNaughton has spotted a newtrend in E&P Data Management, and jumps quickly on the Shared Earth Model bandwagon.

OK you know about data models. You know about objects. But that is all about to become old hat as E&P IT ploughs on with its continuous self re-invention. The buzz on everyone's lips today is the Shared Earth Model (SEM). The definition of the SEM is still "under construction" with many diverging views as to its implementation and scope. The basic idea is of a computerized model of the subsurface that works for all disciplines and at all scales of observation. How this is to be achieved is far from clear, but what are very much in evidence are the plethoric claims of business benefits that will accrue once the SEM is adopted.

SEM - old stuff?

Now those poor guys in the product development group have to translate this pie-in-the-sky stuff into rubber-meets-the-road code. The problem before them is that the multifarious models in existence at the present time (seismic, geological, reservoir, financial and the rest) are not going to be knocked into one just by thinking that this would be a neat thing to do. So they have taken a quick shifty around the wish list of their clients and come up with a few inadequacies in current modeling efforts. Thus the grand scheme of industry - wide revolution through a SEM actually boils down to the following rather prosaic enhancements

We need to be able to handle more arbitrary geometries than current tools will allow

Models should allow better handling of time variant data - particularly in the production area

Uncertainty in all measurements should be stored along with the data and 'propagated' throughout the model.

I predict that this latter requirement will probably need some toning down before it becomes widespread. Can you imagine what would happen when every 100 mmbbl prospect you present to management comes with a reserve estimate of plus 0 to minus 100 mmbbl?

The URGENT project described elsewhere in this issue came up with a very high level description of the SEM. This encapsulates trendy Business Process Reengineering (BPR) concepts into a wish-list of SEM functionality. Meanwhile, although Landmark will use the SEM to breath both BPR and revolution in the whitespace into their product line, they are essentially in the geometry camp - with their adoption of the GoCad engine. In another corner of the forest, GeoQuest have gone to a different supplier, XoX (pronounced "socks") for their geometrical extensions.

Interop death-knell?

So the battle lines are drawn up in what seems like a desperate attempt to avoid interoperability at all costs. What better way to ensure that systems will never co-operate than by deciding that the SEM is to be the focus of all future development and then for everyone to go for different kernel technologies. Of course it takes two not to tango - and there are other issues at stake here. But the behavior of both major vendors in the SEM area is yet another demonstration of competition before cooperation. Users should be aware of this and think through the implications of two or more SEM environments. It could impact your business in a fairly costly manner. Even if you intend to go for a single supplier solution, you will have problems trading data and interpretations with partners.

Wild card

A wild-card in the SEM debate has to be the growing functionality of generic 3D technology such as that announced by ESRI (see article in this issue). As GIS functionality encroaches on the world of the SEM we may be heading for yet another clash of technologies. This may lead to future data management problems as users define their data set in the GIS and then try to load the SEM. This is an old story - where do you draw the line between browsing and management, and the actual use of data? Maybe it is not too late for interested parties to make a stand here. For a little directivity from buyers as to what the SEM should be and in particular, if we are to share the SEM, then it should be shareable between software from all vendors. The "buy not build" philosophy should not be confused with a hands off attitude towards standards organization activity. Major vendors do not have interoperability at the top of their agendas. Only directivity from oils will move this one along.

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Urgent (March 1998)

The Urgent (User Reference Group for EmergentTechnologies!) project was presented to the world in the comfortable surroundings thatused to be the Whitbread Brewery in London's East End - PDM was there.

The URGENT project is fairly diverse and is rather hard to categorize. It sets out to "improve the work processes of the E&P Industry and to help the IT industry produce better software for E&P professionals". To achieve this, E&P work processes have been meticulously analyzed using Role Activity Diagrams modeled using Process Charter software from Scitor. Object oriented analysis techniques using Jacobson’s "Use Case" was also applied to the documentation of IT requirements.

SEM again

Because the Urgent partners are seeking to commercialize the results of their achievements, not all the findings have been put into the public domain. The main conclusion made public was that we need a Shared Earth Model (SEM) so that all disciplines can refer to the same validated data set throughout the E&P lifecycle. Robin Getty from PDS described the SEM as "a collaboration mechanism, development and simulation environment and a repository for data and information". So you see we are on quite a high plane here. Getty further described the SEM as a "meeting place for the facilities engineer, reservoir engineer, production engineer, driller etc… to share information and agree critical areas to be evaluated by considering all aspects of the exploitation and development of the asset".

Decisions, decisions

Another facet of Urgent - a Decision Support Environment (DES) - was described by Flemming Rolle of PARAS. Rolle described the DSE as providing a link to all models, accessible in real-time and providing information in an understandable form to the decision-maker. Commercial, facilities and Shared Earth models will be linked and visible in DES, making the DSE "the umbrella for decision-making". Judgement on the ultimate impact of the Urgent project results will have to await the publication of more findings. There was a generally high level of interest in having more information as to the findings of the BPR study - which apparently make up a 600 plus page report.

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Scitor's Process Charter (March 1998)

Process Charter, released in January 1995, isa 'breakthrough tool for enterprise-wide process improvement'. This'revolutionary' software package provides all of the essential tools to createpresentation-quality flowcharts, but goes steps further by adding powerful processanalysis and simulation capabilities. Process Charter is a recent winner of InfoWorld'sProduct of the Year and BYTE's Award of Excellence.

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Landmark's Worldwide Forum (March 1998)

PDM was invited to attend Landmark GraphicsCorporation's Worldwide Technology Forum - we bring you some highlights.

While the virtual presence of Bill Gates stole the show, there was much more substance on the exhibition floor and in the eight simultaneous conference rooms. Bob Peebler remarked on the conference attendance which was up from 250 a mere 5 years ago to its present level of around 1200. John Gibson gave an upbeat analysis of future oil supply and demand which should lead to a 3 mmbbl/day shortfall - real soon now! In the first of several video presentations from a variety of oil industry worthies, George Boykin (Amoco) underlined the need for faster decision making with multiple working hypotheses. Boykin described some current working practices as being "between analysis and paralysis" leading sometimes to "gung-ho no-data decisions". Boykin described the Oilfield Lifecycle System (OLS) as having simple but inherently non-linear rules and asked "Should we re-engineer the technological OLS to match business processes, or adapt our business processes to the OLS? Landmark are going for the latter.

Open Explorer

The Halliburton take-over of Landmark provided funding for this major development of an "integrated data management solution". The basic idea is to be able to seamlessly exploit data at corporate, regional and project level. The current flavor of Open Explorer (OE) largely reflects customization performed for Enterprise Oil UK who were closely involved in its specification and development. Enterprise's history of involvement in data modeling was described in a paper by Tim Bird. In the 1980's, Enterprise built their own database - the EOCENE system for handling well header data. In the early '90s the Tigress system was deployed, but "did not thrive". Latterly, Open Explorer was developed as a component of the multimillion dollar alliance described in PDM Vol. 2 N 2 between Enterprise and Landmark. The main component - at least the most costly part of Enterprise's move to a common data base solution - was neither hardware nor software, but the intense quality assurance that was necessary to migrate the data into the new data store. Bird bemoaned the fact that commercial solutions tend to overlook this part of the equation.

Query builder

OE now incorporates a "GeoQuery Builder", an SQL-like query language "for geologists". You can use this to select objects and then send them over to ArcView as a Theme. Then ArcView Spatial Queries can be run using the selected objects to locate proximal leases or wells with same type of characteristics. Then data can be pushed back into OE, Open Works, or wherever you need to interpret it. The native ArcView buffering feature is also of potential use in locating objects with a predetermined attribute which are within a set distance of a polygonal feature. Thus you could select all the wells reaching a certain producing horizon, within a given distance of a pipeline. Other uses of OE benefit similarly from the generic horizontal software that is ArcView. Just as ESRI's Spatial Analyst is used to locate new supermarkets by spatial data mining, OE will enable such techniques to find oil and gas by using for instance, grid arithmetic on ZMap data.

Direct Access

A noteworthy difference between Open Explorer and GeoQuest's Finder is the way the data in the underlying Oracle database is accessed by the end user. Finder allows direct SQL access to the data - effectively allowing any user-defined query to be run. Open Explorer protects the user from SQL through the GeoQuery builder. There are merits and disadvantages to both approaches. GeoQuest offers flexibility at the expense of an overhead of complexity and potential future maintenance issues. Open Explorer limits the type of query that can be run in the database, but should be more stable through version changes. You pays your money and takes your choice.

Document Management

Another industry alliance - this time with Unocal - was behind the development of another add on to Open Explorer. This is a Meta Data Document Management system. This allows any document - such as a Word text document - to be attached to any database entity. As Landmark's John Sherman says, "You can toss information at a project". This development is part of a wider project attempting to capture knowledge in the enterprise. Links to paper documents and other inventory are being developed by integrating Hays RSO with Open Explorer. A Windows version of Open Explorer should be available by the time you read this.

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3D extensions to ArcView shipping now (March 1998)

Generic 3D functions from Esri's ArcView mayimpact the vertical geometry engines used in the industry's various Shared Earth Modelprojects.

A perceived weakness in ArcView based applications such as Open Explorer has been the absence of 3D functionality - so that it was impossible to leave the horizontal plane and follow the wellbore down to the reservoir. The 3D Analyst extension, originally announced more than one year ago, intends to change this by enabling users to create, analyze, and display surface data. Support is provided for Triangulated Irregular Networks (TINs) and simple three-dimensional vector geometry, as well as interactive perspective viewing. To support sophisticated 3D surface analysis, the 3D Analyst enables support for the creation and use of TINs within ArcView. TINs are vector-based topologically structured data models that are well suited for terrain and surface data modeling. The new ArcView 3D extensions allow users to :

Create and modify surface models.

Create 3D shapefile themes.

Simple editing of TINs.

Planimetric display of surfaces.

Fly through

Using these tools, users can rotate the scenes and "fly-through" them - giving a whole new meaning to exploring the data. You can even point and identify features in 3D. ArcView 3D Analyst provides a seamless link between 3D visualization and your GIS data. More than a 3D viewer, ArcView 3D Analyst gives users the power to manipulate and analyze data from a three-dimensional perspective, including 3D specific tools such as line-of-sight, volumetric calculations, grid and TIN creation, and much more. Upon loading ArcView 3D Analyst, additional tools and choices are added to the View document and the 3D World document is enabled. These menus and tool buttons are fully customizable using Avenue.

Avenue

Additionally, Avenue requests are also provided for more sophisticated functionality that can be used to satisfy more demanding application requirements. ArcView 3D Analyst goes beyond common forms of surface analysis, such as contouring and slope/aspect derivation, by providing attribute support and low-level TIN navigation tools and iterators. Values representing attributes can be assigned to triangle facets (real features) in a TIN. This means that, for any location on a TIN, the user can access not only the surface geometry but other thematic characteristics such as land cover. The navigation tools and iterators are useful to application developers who need to walk through the triangulation or process a collection of triangles that satisfy some criterion. These capabilities will be of significant benefit to application developers. Open Vision is an add-on to Open Explorer which will incorporate this new technology from ESRI.

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Conference highlights, LGC goes GoCad, may ditch UNIX! and Mobil provides TCS update.(March 1998)

Landmark have opted for the GoCad consortium'sgeometry engine for their Shared Earth Model. Closer ties with Microsoft may herald amigration of applications from UNIX to Windows NT, and Mike Marzano describes the progressof Mobil 's Technical Computing Solution implementation.

SEM

The Shared Earth Model (SEM) is all the rage these days (see this month's editorial) and Landmark made an important announcement at the Worldwide Forum in their adoption of technology from the GoCad Consortium as the geometry engine to form the basis of the new SEM. Landmark describe GoCad as the de facto standard for geometry and say that they will work with POSC to accommodate this technology into Epicentre. Landmark claim that "this is not a proprietary development but is adding value to a common standard". GoCad will be embedded in SeisWorks, EarthCube and other applications in the Landmark suite. Tying in to Bill Gates' support for interoperability through COM on UNIX, Landmark are going for tight integration of applications in the fields of drilling, geographical presentation and finance. They are moving towards SAP partnerships - with an in-house implementation of the SAP Human Resource module which will be integrated through COM.

Landmark to ditch UNIX?

Gibson described the OMG's CORBA middleware as defective - claiming that "COM gives greatest portability to integrate UNIX and Java". Over a two-to- three year time frame "we will see incredible improvement in UNIX and MS interoperability in Landmark" Gibson stated. Another rapprochement with Microsoft is in increased deployment of the NT operating system. Landmark have been working on this for a couple of years and conclude that the traditional Wintel architecture is not yet up to E&P computing's performance requirements which are much greater than most industries. New technologies such as the Merced chip and 64 bit NT will change this in the near future. Such that Landmark is planning a big move to NT over the next 3-4 years. Will they ditch UNIX? "There is some uncertainty as to how fast the customers will make the switch to NT" said Gibson.

Immaterial

Some may stay with UNIX for floating point performance. Peebler can foresee a time when the OS is immaterial. Gibson added that Landmark's core competence is keeping their customers on the best platform for them. Bob Peebler pointed out that Landmark actually began on MS-DOS and now runs on IRIX, Solaris and NT. Migration is a "permanent situation - we will still be migrating 10 years from now". With new technology comes new terminology - thus G&G becomes "front office" while SAP is "back office". That is quite a nice picture. Imagine yourself sitting in the shop window interpreting away on your twinhead workstation while the behind-the-scenes accountant meters your mouse-clicks and figures your Christmas bonus.

Mobil TCS Update

Mobil's Mike Marzano presented the 1997 results of their innovative Technical Computing Strategy (TCS). This was planned during 1995 and implementation began in 1997 with the whole system to be phased in over 3 years. One interesting aspect of the project (revealed in PDM Vol. 2 N 11) is the migration to GeoQuest's Finder and Landmark's Open Works Project Data Store. Marzano described this project as "not for the faint of heart - it is not a risk free project". But such a complete change has huge potential benefits, representing "a complete makeover of Technical Computing in Mobil". The makeover includes hardware, software, data systems and support. The rollout program involves planning, training, implementation, optimization and support - through Technical Information Management (TIM) teams. The overall project roadmap is contained in around 20 boxes of paper - only two of which cover software. Most important are workflows with detailed implementation at each site developed with vendor participation. All presented in PowerPoint on the Intranet website.

Identical sites

All Mobil sites are be kitted out with identical hardware and the same directory structure. Just in Time training is offered to users based on company workflows and delivered at training sites equipped with one twinhead workstation for every two trainees. There has been some resistance to training from the "too busy" brigade, but this is usually appreciated once done. 30 man weeks per month were devoted to the project throughout 1997. The project was 9% under budget, while roll out schedule and benchmarks undershot some but Mobil is generally pleased with progress made. Lessons learned include the domino effect of implementation. For everything to work, you need software, training data and so on all up and running at the same time. Working smarter is much more than just software. Mobil are using Geoshare as the link between Finder and Open Works. Initially Mobil asked both Landmark and GeoQuest what was their preferred route for data transfer. They both replied Geoshare!

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The Petroleum Industries' Flagship Solution (March 1998)

CGG sets up US marketing subsidiary forStratimagic.

"Overwhelmed" by the demand for its Stratimagic seismic analysis package (featured in PDM Vol. 2 N 1) - CGG has set up a new company Flagship Geosciences L.L.C., Operating in the United States and Canada as a partner of CGG, Flagship Geosciences has exclusive rights for the distribution of Stratimagic, CGG Petrosystems' revolutionary software for seismic analysis, and other related products. According to David Borde, CEO of Flagship Geosciences "Flagship Geosciences is committed to providing the solutions to meet the growing needs of geoscientists to enhance seismic interpretation, to better detect geological features and relate seismic data to rock properties." Eric Deliac, Executive VP of CGG, in charge of its Geoscience Division, says: "Stratimagic is a software product with enormous potential. Integrated with leading providers of 3-D seismic interpretation workstations, Stratimagic is an essential and enabling component to the E&P workflow, providing the information necessary to make better informed business decisions. Flagship Geoscience will ensure quality support to our US and Canadian customers".

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Walden 3 - Virtual reality (March 1998)

Landmark Founder Royce Nelson sets up VirtualReality Service Centers.

First there was Thoreau's Walden, the ultimate BPR expert whose philosophy could be paraphrased as "Just Don't Do It". Then Skinner came up with Walden Two (Do it Scientifically?). Now, H. Roice Nelson, Jr. - one of Landmark's founders - introduces Walden3D or rather the Walden Visualization System (WVS) - and invites us to "Do it Virtually". The WVS is available in several configurations from a wall projection viewer to a 3D surround environment in which you can spend some time in the company of salt domes, overhangs, thrusts or whatever geological problem you are confronted with. Nelson told PDM that WVS believe that 3D virtual reality has many applications in E&P interpretation, some of which may not have yet been thought of. A common trait however is that 3DVR applications will be centered around the need for teams to communicate with each other. The spatial nature of the oil business makes it a perfect for this technology. In fact the Shared Earth Model would seem a natural candidate for a walk around and inside by the team building it. Nelson claims that many multi million dollar decisions are still based on a limited amount of data, and the WVS is intended to provide everyone from explorationist, through driller to general manager the possibility to share the experience of the subsurface. The basic idea is that everyone understands their co-worker's data without the need for domain specific understanding of contours and grids.

Donkey Kong

PDM donned the special glasses and grabbed the mouse. The WVS is quite tricky to manipulate at first - you control the view by waving the mouse around. Menus pop up out of nowhere and react with a Donkey Kong sound to a mouse click. After a while you get the knack and we went for a wander round the backside of a salt dome - quite a novel experience. Walden Visualization Systems (WVS) has just signed agreements to package Foundation, Renaissance, and Continuum software from MuSE Technology, Inc. out of Sandia National Laboratories with VR-Viz from the University of Houston/NASA's Virtual Environment Technology Laboratory VETL. The WVS agreement with The University of Houston allows WVS to lease time on the VETL ROOMS (Reservoir Object Oriented Management System) and to make this time and technical support available to both VR-Geo consortium members and non-consortium members. These systems don't come cheap, an entry level system would cost about 0.5 $ million. And that is just for the Big Silicon Onyx supercomputer doing the number crunching. A more serious four wall installation will come in at about 1.5 M$ for the hardware and another 1M$ or so for the facility itself. Those of you in the Houston area can try out the system at one of the three True 3-D Virtual Visualization Service Centers : downtown, on Westheimer and in the energy corridor on the west side of town. More from info@walden3d.com

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Sapphire Iris21 Office Automation link from Stephenson and Associates. (March 1998)

A new tool from Stephenson and Associateslinks Petroconsultants data to Office Automation.

Consultants Stephenson and Associates (S&A) announce the availability of SApphire - a plug in for Petroconsultants' IRIS21 software which offers "a state of the art interface to IRIS21 that is easy to use." SApphire was originally developed under contract to Shell where it was installed during 1997. S&A now have eight oil company clients for SApphire, with more installations planned in the near future. The first module to be developed was for IRIS21. The Finder and OpenRSO modules are currently under development and modules for other data stores will follow soon, according to client priorities. SApphire uses the Oracle Web Server to interface with Oracle databases. The SApphire system allows you to browse and download corporate data from your PC or Workstation. The latest web technology is used to allow you to access your data stores, using Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer, and download data to spreadsheets or other desktop tools. Sapphire supports IRIS21, Finder and OpenRSO data formats. More info from Helen Stephenson hs@s-and-a.com and http://www.s-and-a.com.

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Landmark subsumes EnerTech Product Line (March 1998)

Halliburton is to move the EnerTech drillingsoftware division into Landmark

Landmark's parent company Halliburton has moved its EnerTech software division into Landmark's Drilling and Well Services group to "create the industry's broadest suite of drilling and well services software solution". Landmark's John Gibson estimates that "more than 70 percent of activities associated with the planning, execution and post analysis of drilling wells are still done on paper. Landmark provides the broadest suite of software, combined with our consulting experts, to extend operators' capabilities and improve their processes as they cope with the current shortage of trained drilling engineers, as well as the accelerating pressures associated with the availability and cost of rigs". Landmark's suite of drilling and well service solutions includes DIMS for Windows, COMPASS, StressCheck, WELLPLAN, WellCat, and CasingSeat. Peter C. Bernard, a 13-year veteran of Halliburton and formerly EnerTech's director, Global Account Management has been named Landmark's product vice president, Drilling and Well Services. "Our highly-experienced team of petroleum and mechanical engineers, geologists, and others are delivering some of the most effective solutions available on the market today. At the same time, we are developing new levels of integration with Landmark's open environment for exploration and production so that drilling departments and operators can take full advantage of the wealth of information and models now available."

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Corporate Miscellany (March 1998)

Halliburton and Dresser merge and engage IBMfor global communications infrastructure while Schlumberger just grows and grows!

Halliburton and Dresser have merged in a $7.7 billion deal to form the largest oil service group in the world. The combined company will be called Halliburton Company and remain headquartered in Dallas, with a work force of approximately 100,000 employees world-wide. Dresser is a nuts, bolts and pump company so while there may be long term synergy there will be no quick gains in terms of IT technology transfer. Dick Cheney, Halliburton's chairman and chief executive officer, who will be CEO of the combined company, said, "Halliburton and Dresser are an outstanding business and cultural fit. This is a win-win combination for both companies' shareholders, customers and employees. It represents a major step forward toward our goal of creating a fully integrated oilfield and engineering and construction services company with a global leadership position. The ability to provide complete, seamless solutions for customers is becoming the critical factor in winning large international service contracts. We will have the broadest range of capabilities in the industry and will remain focused on meeting the multiple and growing needs of customers worldwide."

EDS out in cold

Halliburton have just awarded IBM Global Services a seven-year outsourcing contract that will create one of the largest private networks in the world. Under the terms of the agreement, IBM Global Services will provide IP-based wide area network services, service desk support, local area network management, server management and e-mail administration for more than 26,000 Halliburton employees (or perhaps that should be 100,000 now) located in 54 countries. In addition, IBM Global Services will provide Internet services to Halliburton including hosting Halliburton's Internet Web site. The Halliburton/Landmark plans for a linkage with EDS (announced in PDM Vole 1 N 1 back in 1996) appear not to have born fruit.

Schlumberger strong and growing

Meanwhile Schlumberger have just announced a healthy year for 1997. Oilfield Services revenue increased 25% and pre-tax operating income increased 58%. The robust growth was fairly evenly spread geographically and across all services. Schlumberger have been doing some quiet reorganization of their own. Applying Hamel-like methodology Schlumberger initiated a self-examination program "Forum 2005" back in 1996. A group of 36 young, diverse Schlumberger people were challenged "to imagine what the world would be like in the year 2005, and describe the sort of company they wanted Schlumberger to become".

Forum 2005

Many of their recommendations are now being implemented. As of February 1, 1998, the business is organized in two groups, Solutions and Products. The Solutions Group is organized along geographic lines to develop, sell and implement all oilfield services as well as customized and integrated solutions to meet specific client needs. The Products Group is responsible for product development across the organization as well as training and technical support for each type of service in the field to ensure the highest standards of service to clients. Another result of Forum 2005 is that information technology will be deployed to "make all the relevant knowledge available to the user when and where it is needed". Baird described Schlumberger's development work in knowledge management as part of an industry-wide effort "to improve our ability to capture knowledge, integrate and preserve it and then make what has been learned quickly and easily available to anyone who will be involved in the next business decision. Our aim is to learn faster and learn forever." One encouraging aspect of Schlumberger's financial success is that it appears to have been achieved through "upsizing". The Schlumberger headcount has risen by 32% over the last five years to reach 63 500 in 1997.

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COM on UNIX - Is it really new? (March 1998)

PDM investigates Landmark and Microsoft'sinteroperability push.

Microsoft's new COM on UNIX initiative was revealed in PDM Vol. 3 N 1 but is it really new? Not exactly, Microsoft signed a partnership agreement with Software AG in 1995 whereby this company was to port COM to other operating systems such as Linux, HP-UX, IBM's AIX and others including Sun Solaris. Results of these ports were first demonstrated at Object World West in San Jose way back in August 1996. The world does not exactly seem to have been set afire by this initiative perhaps because the world was not ready then. Is the world ready for COM on UNIX today? After all, the E&P IT world has settled fair and square on the Object Management Group's CORBA specification for interoperability. This is true for initiatives such as Open Spirit, the POSC Interoperability RFT and other independent interoperability initiatives such as CGG PetroSystems' Stratimagic plug-in. Schlumberger too made CORBA programming skills a prerequisite in a recent job ad in The Leading Edge.

NT thrust

There is another interpretation for Microsoft's renewed push for their COM technology and that is that they are taking CORBA as a serious obstacle to the push for (more) world domination through NT. The apparent alignment of Landmark with the COM camp is rather puzzling as the vast majority of Landmark's 100 million lines of code are on UNIX. COM is also a rather improbable way of interoperating with other E&P software environments which are practically all UNIX based. Are the recent Microsoft and Landmark announcements a spanner in the works of current interoperability initiatives? Alternatively is COM on UNIX a Trojan horse for NT's entry into E&P computing. We could conspire for ages. What Landmark is really saying here is - "forget interoperability with other (foreign) E&P applications, we're going to plug you straight in to the finance department".

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Landmark Announces Y2K Initiative (March 1998)

The clock is ticking - are you ready for theyear 2000? Does it matter?

Landmark Graphics Corporation has announced its commitment to ensure its software applications meet E&P industry requirements for Year 2000. Compliance completion is scheduled for the second half of 1998, with general product availability scheduled during the first half of 1999. Landmark began focusing on Year 2000 compliance during 1996 with the testing of its Release 97 application suite. In addition, Landmark has adopted the British Standards Institute Year 2000 Conformity guidelines. These guidelines are found in the BSI-DISC PD2000-1: "A Definition of Year 2000 Requirements" Document Set by a consortium of E&P companies and other industry leaders. These guidelines define the requirements that must be satisfied in E&P computer applications that use dates and times. Landmark has selected Data Dimensions, Inc. to assist in the planning, preparation, and implementation of its Year 2000 project, to ensure full compliance. Data Dimensions has provided successful millennium update services for more than 150 organizations worldwide, including numerous Fortune 500 companies.

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Y2K skeptic challenge (March 1998)

Is the Y2K bug really a big deal? StephenSaunders thinks not

In a recent edition of the Guardian Weekly an iconoclastic view of the year 2000 (Y2K) problem was expressed by one Stephen Saunders from New York. Saunders believes the Y2K problem to be largely manufactured by self serving vendors and contains a large elements of scare mongering. Saunders describes the problem as "childishly simple" - at least by the standards of the networking industry and anticipates that "come the millennium, as the clock strikes midnight and the predicted network doomsday fails to transpire, we will no doubt see the same year 2000 service providers that blew the whole-thing out of proportion claiming credit for its solution".

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Second First Knowledge Management Conference (March 1998)

PDM attended First Conference's KnowledgeManagement in the Oil and Gas Industry 98 Event naturally, we learned a lot.

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Knowledge Management (KM) spans business organization and IT but while many of the speakers related successful application of new technologies, the consensus was that KM is a people problem before all else. The basic issues are fairly simple - how does an organization capture and share the knowledge that it builds up over the years through it's employees' experience? Sounds straightforward enough, but as we all know, it isn't. As Jack Carter Upstream Planning Manager of Mobil asked "Why is the Soft Stuff so hard?" One reason KM is difficult is that it is hard to identify what people know, as opposed to data or information which can be digitized or quantified. KM is an applied management technique that involves institutionalizing knowledge sharing, communicating, getting over the obstacle of culture change, and learning.

Knowledge is power!

The old paradigm of knowledge as power needs to be replaced with the idea that shared knowledge is power. While some IT solutions such as Knowledge Banks exist, the main IT innovation - and perhaps the reason for such renewed interest in KM - is the use of Internet and Intranet technologies for knowledge sharing. The KM revival also follows on the heels of widespread downsizing causing the inevitable loss of corporate knowledge. Another factor has been the realization that the current IT focus means that technical people may have lost sight of business objectives. KM can thus be categorized as an attempt to realign the whole of a company's objectives so that everyone is working towards the same goal (and know that they are doing it).

Perception

Dave Cowen (Texaco) pointed out that each individual has an unique perception of one facet of Geoscience. While data standards help, the real competitive edge comes from interpretation - in other words from the individual. Working from this, Cowen defines the desired outcome of the KM initiative as growing a culture which allows an individual to talk and use knowledge but warned that "KM can mean knowledge minefield. You need a framework to come through either alive or with less limbs damaged". Texaco use Microsoft Exchange as the project repository and techniques such as structured interviews, workbooks and workshops. Marcus Speh, Senior Corporate IT Adviser with Shell International described the group's Knowledge Management Map which he described as "an infrastructure to capture knowledge".

No bubbles

Such techniques are necessary because "Data is unstructured, Knowledge very rarely bubbles to the surface. What is important is to find it, and to build on it". One way this was achieved was by creating a global address book (which sounds trivial but is very important) and to provide different channels for learning, common desktop, mobile office, and a virtual team support. On the IT front, a superior search engine & seamless global IT service are considered key. Problems reported by Shell include the difficulties of website management with a chaotic process of web page creation by all-comers. Another difficulty was info-glut - with too much indigestible content. This problem was compounded by senior managers rarely having the time to get an understanding of what IT can do. Technologies deployed in KW include Lotus Notes and Domino, Netscape, Live Link & OpenText.

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