January 1999


New Houston Data Bank from Kelman Technologies Inc. (January 1999)

Bucking the industry downturn Kelman Technologies Inc. has set up shop in Houston with a data bank facility built around the DMASS on-line seismic repository. Heading up Kelman’s Houston operations Francis Bourgeois – former President of Woodlands and VP of PGS’ Geobank USA.

Kelman Technologies Inc. (KTI) seems to be benefiting from the industry downturn by implementing the new paradigm of off-site shared storage for seismic data. Following the growth of its seismic data management services in the Canadian energy market, Kelman has announced a brand new Archive Division located in Houston. The new center will be equipped with KTI’s suite of seismic data management services from, bit to bit data reproduction to fully integrated on-line seismic data collections. Kelman’s flagship DMASS service organizes and reconciles client’s field, stack, section and support data. DMASS then creates an electronic library which allows ‘instant’ retrieval any of the client’s seismic data on-line, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. DMASS is a combined hardware and software offering built upon technology from IBM (ADSM distributed storage manager) and Sun Microsystems. The indexes and other metadata are stored in a database built around the Public Petroleum Data Model Association’s standard.

Revenues strong

KTI report strong take-up of the system in Calgary which has resulted in record reported revenues in Q3 1998 for the division. Continued growth is anticipated for 1999 with the signing of 7 new archive contracts in the past 8 weeks. KTI now boasts some 30 subscribers to the Archive services. One satisfied client is seismic broker Request Seismic Surveys (RSS). which has struck a deal with KTI for storage and delivery of its brokered data. Todd Chuckry President of RSS claims, "The speed and accuracy of our data transactions has afforded us a competitive advantage that we are beginning to realize more as time progresses". Another happy Kelman client is Gulf Canada Resources (see PDM Vol 2 N° 6). GCR’s Alice Bienia stated recently "More complete, integrated and accurate seismic data is being served on-line to our exploration community in minutes, resulting in effective decision making by our geophysicists…Gulf has taken a significant step forward in establishing a strategic advantage in its exploration and trade data activities."

New Boss

Heading up the Houston operations is 20 year industry veteran Francis Bourgeois who becomes the Archive Regional Manager for the Gulf of Mexico. Bourgeois has over 20 years of seismic industry experience, most recently as President of The Woodlands Geophysical Group, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PGS Data Management Inc., and Vice President of GeoBank, USA. Previous responsibilities include positions as Chief Geophysicist and Manager of Exploration with Pennzoil’s European office. Monica Sloan, President of KTI stated "We are pleased to have Francis spearhead the introduction of our revolutionary seismic data management solution to the Houston energy community." More from http://www.kelman.com

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PGS and GeoQuest join OpenSpirit Alliance, ‘Fast track’ deployment announced (January 1999)

PGS and CGG have signed up with the OpenSpirit Alliance (OSA - see PDM Vol 3 N° 9) bringing the tally to 14 companies (5 oils and 8 service). An OSA core-group comprising PGS, CGG, GeoQuest, Shell, Chevron and Elf have announced plans to 'accelerate the joint deployment of the OpenSpirit framework in their application portfolios'.

OpenSpirit, the application integration framework developed and marketed by PrismTech, was launched at SEG 98. The intention is to allow software applications from different vendors and proprietary in-house developed tools to interoperate with various industry standard E&P databases. Ben Weltevrede, operator of the OpenSpirit Alliance said "Through this joint initiative we will step up development efforts to reach our goal of creating true interoperability among heterogeneous applications and platforms. The ultimate success of OpenSpirit hinges on the availability of end-user products."

Critical mass

"We fully expect this group of companies to bring a critical mass to the market before 2000." Currently products including gOcad, CGG’s StratiMagic, PDS's Geographical Data Selector Elf’s Sismage and Shell Services' EPDM Tools have been demonstrated on the OpenSpirit framework. These tools use OpenSpirit to read information from vendor data stores such as GeoQuest’s Geoframe and Landmark’s OpenWorks. The OpenSpirit technology also rests upon work done by the Petrotechnical Open Software Corp. (POSC) in the field of E&P business objects. Donald Paul, corporate vice president, Technology and Environmental Affairs for Chevron Corporation, stated, "Chevron is pleased to see major technology suppliers, such as PGS, GeoQuest and CGG committing to use the OpenSpirit object framework. We feel that an open software integration platform, based on standards, offers significant benefits to both oil companies and commercial software vendors. "

PDM analysis

OpenSpirit members fall into three categories. First there are the ‘founding fathers’ – those rare breed oils who actually still do hands-on software development. These companies will be using OpenSpirit to deploy their in-house specialist software in a semi-commercial environment, by allowing the research tools to access industry standard data stores i.e. GeoFrame and OpenWorks. Next we have the vendors of such data stores, or rather, since this announcement, we now have at least one of them – GeoQuest (Landmark is still conspicuous by its absence from OpenSpirit – see this month’s editorial). GeoQuest’s president, Thierry Pilenko has stated that GeoQuest would be "Opening our systems to allow best-in-class and best-in-process products to interoperate." This is interesting in that it suggests that GeoQuest is confirming its role as a compliant datastore, rather than joining the OpenSpirit Applications set (for a humorous interpretation of the positioning of major vendors in the standards game see the Vendors Tale (August 1996) on the PDM CD – free with this issue). Finally there are the wannabes – the real potential beneficiaries of the OpenSpirit paradigm. GOCad, PDS, CGG with StratiMagic and now PGS with the whole of the Tigress suite of applications just waiting to plug and play with the major datastores. What the position of the datastore vendors would be if the wannabes actually started to carve out market share with OpenSpirit-compliant plug-ins remains to be seen. Only time will tell whether the momentum of OpenSpirit will prove sufficient to overcome the inevitable tensions in such a mixture of protagonists.

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OpenSpirit Developer's Kit available and packaging announced (January 1999)

PrismTech have announced the availability of a ‘pre-release version’ of the OpenSpirit V1.0 Developers Kit and indicate how the commercial versions of OpenSpirit will bepackaged.

Following the first ‘pre-release’ beta, PrismTech will continue its internal and external testing of a second pre-release early in 1999 and will roll out the first production release soon thereafter. The final commercial packaging of OpenSpirit will be in the form of a development kit and a run time license for system users. The dev kit will allow programmers to develop OpenSpirit-compliant, component-based E&P applications; either for developing new software or for integrating existing applications and data-stores via OpenSpirit. The end-user oriented OpenSpirit run-time platform for E&P software system users, will be transparent to the user - except for the license fee! Customers who would like to evaluate the first pre-release are invited to contact Ahsan Rahi at PrismTech - mar@us.prismtechnologies.com.

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1998, from riches to rags, a tale of yet another downturn. (January 1999)

PDM’s Editor, Neil McNaughton reflects on a year which started with a bang and ended with a whimper. From a bullish start, to a dire and desperate end with clouds on every horizon. But we had some fun on theway.

Last January we were basking in the enthusiastic post-SEG glow, the industry had a) convinced itself that the good times were back, and b) that we were going to be serious about things this time around. As an indication, late 1997 we were reporting on forecasts of severe staff shortages as the industry took off again. Well that didn’t last long did it. But 1998 did have its high points, which were – "consolidation, consolidation and consolidation". Consolidation amongst vendors with IHS finishing off its bulimic spree acquiring PI/Dwights, MAI Consultants, IEDS and others and IBM’s fire sale of Petrobank to PGS.

Mega-merge

Another consolidation involves the mega-mergers of the major oils. Incidentally, I was driving back from town yesterday, stuck in some traffic when I noticed a sign that said "BP – Mobil!" In France, it is neither BP-Amoco, nor Exxon-Mobil, but rather a mega-mega merged BP-Exxon-Amoco-Mobil which supplies us with gas at around $4.4 a gallon! On another front, Bob Peebler, writing in the Oil and Gas Journal, advocated the formation of a mega SEG/AAPG/SPE organization, to enhance inter-disciplinary cooperation and reduce Landmark’s exhibitors fees!

Gates enters the fray

The spectacular entry of Microsoft into E&P computing was another highlight, with a memorable videotaped message from Bill himself to the attendees at the Landmark Worldwide Technology Forum. The thrust of the message – that Landmark was to be beta testing COM on UNIX – may seem a little bizarre with hindsight, but the presence was tangible. Microsoft’s presence at the SEG was equally real, with lots of DEC Alpha boxes re-labeled as "Compaq", and running NT of course. Microsoft still has some way to go with NT which, although ubiquitous in the stand-alone application end of the market, has failed to make much of an impact with the major application suites. These are still anchored in the SUN/UNIX world and are likely to remain so for a while. High performance computing and visualization are just that, and currently the push is towards 64 bit computing, although Sega’s 128 bit games console might leap-frog the UNIX crowd here!

Standards

Standards organizations had something of a bad time, with POSC re-inventing itself after the gravy-train funding of the original sponsors has evaporated. In the funding confusion, new-geometry projects such as the Shared Earth Model are still struggling to take-off, although the recently announced Synergy initiative (POSC and Oracle) looks promising. More on this in next month’s PDM. OpenSpirit is beginning to look like an interesting development in the fields of standards and interoperability, while both Geoshare and PPDM (with a big welcome for the new CEO Scott Beaugrand) still have wide support in their respective communities. RODE encapsulation of seismic data is gaining some currency and the UK’s PESGB is doing stalwart work re-writing the aging SEG-Y standard.

PDM Interoperability survey

Finally we’d like to mention one of PDM’s contributions to 1998, our interoperability survey. Over the past year we have had statements from POSC, PPDM, CGG, GeoQuest, Geoshare and Microsoft. Landmark is of course conspicuous by its absence here and has stated repeatedly that interoperability, for Landmark, is provided by Oracle’s SQL-Net. A pragmatic response, but not very enlightening in terms of say, Landmark’s position vis a vis OpenSpirit. To set things straight on this latter issue we bring you PDM’s quote of the year. At the OpenSpirit launch party in a steamy New Orleans last November, Landmark’s John Gibson, asked pointedly "When will Shell start eating their own dog-food?" Now that’s what I call a position statement.

Fin de siècle

So what of 1999? Well with the downturn, and the year 2000 on the horizon, don’t hold your breath waiting for massive IT investment. It will be heads down and all hands to the pump for a while. But a bit of a pause may be a blessing in disguise if we can use the time to fix some of the broken bits, and to educate those who in better times would be too busy to listen to us. So if I have one message for 1999 going on 2000, it is this. Make good use of the quiet times to put some order in your houses. Breathe a sigh of relief that there is no money for a Visionarium – which would only cloud the issue anyhow. Try to streamline your work-flows and enhance the quality of the data in your custody. And finally, educate, fight your corner, let management know that quality, accessible data is mission-critical, that millions of dollars have been lost and will be lost by data management and IT failures. It ain’t easy, and we ain’t through yet.

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Landmark Y2K R98 plus. (January 1999)

Landmark have rolled out a year 2000 complaint version of the release 98 suite of E&P applications, with a little help from Data Dimensions Inc.

The special Y2K compliant version of Landmark’s application suite, "Release 98Plus" is now shipping. Claiming market leadership, Landmark’s Keith Johnston, director of the Y2K program stated "Our focus now is providing comprehensive services and support to E&P companies as they migrate to Y2K compliant environments as early in 1999 as possible. Accompanying the new software is a services offering – dubbed Y2K Ready, Set Go! This includes site planning and assessment, audit trail planning, Y2K testing, operating system upgrades, tuning, and trouble shooting. The British Standards Institute Y2K Conformity Guidelines form the core of Landmark’s Y2K initiative, and the whole Y2K development and testing program has been audited and validated by Data Dimensions Inc.(DDI). DDI is a pioneer of many of the processes that consulting firms use today. In 1997 Data Dimensions introduced Ardes 2k, a knowledge-based process manager for Year 2000 projects. Recently DDI was retained by Microsoft Corporation to provide quality assurance and testing services for Microsoft's portable Windows CE operating system. Its nice to think that the Y2K problem is good for some people. Indeed Y2K has been very good for DDI whose revenues for 1998 were $114.5 million, a hike of 90 percent.

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Fakespace – VR on the move (January 1999)

Virtual Reality takes to the road with portable VR from Fakespace. Entry-level fold-away VR displays start at $57,000.

For virtual realists on the move, Fakespace of Mountain View California, is marketing a transportable VR display unit. the Mini Workbench has a 44 inch diagonal field of view and is designed to fold down for easy movement within the office or for shipment to exhibitions and storage. Thess adjustable, drafting table-style rear-projected unit allows for real time viewing and interaction with computer-generated imagery. Three models are available, two with full 3D visualization capability using Electrohome Marquee 8500 CRT projectors and a third with 2D capability only, using LCD projection technology offering a megapixel screen bandwidth. Cost of the unit is in the range $57,000 to $69,000 depending on options. More from www.fakespace.com.

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WhiteStar Corp. Acquires Platte River Digital Cartography (January 1999)

WhiteStar Corporation has acquired Platte River Digital Cartography (PRDC) and now boasts a complete 1:24,000 scale Public Land Survey database to complement its exclusive Texas land survey database.

Robert White Jr., President and CEO of WhiteStar stated, "We are extremely excited about this acquisition not only because of its obvious importance to our company but because of its importance to our present and future customers. For the first time, we will be able to deliver a seamless nationwide land survey database. We are pleased that we were PRDC's first choice and are confident that our customers will benefit greatly." Dr. Jay E. Leonard, President of PRDC, commented "PRDC and WhiteStar have had a longstanding working relationship and share a commitment to providing the highest quality data." PRDC is a privately held company and is independent of Platte River Associates, Inc., the petroleum systems software developer of which Leonard is also CEO. Platte River Associates, Inc. was not involved in the current transaction, except for licensing certain digitizing software to WhiteStar Corporation. Altira Group LLC, a Denver-based venture management firm specializing in advanced technology for the oil and gas industry, financed the acquisition. More from Stephen Pickett on 303-781-5182, and http://www.whitestar.com.

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BP Amoco 'Be big and small at the same time!' (January 1999)

Speaking at the 2nd SMI Annual E&P Data Management Conference in London this month, Chris Mottershead, Technology Business Manager with BP Amoco described how the new conglomerate was set to square the circle by being both big – gaining economies of scale AND small, quick-witted and smart, by breaking the whole behemoth into 134 business units throughout the world.

For BP’s technology guru Chris Mottershead, the collapse of the oil price and the concomitant restructuring of the oil industry is an event of magnitude comparable to the breakup of standard Oil at the (last) turn of the century, or to the first middle east oil price hike back in the early ‘70s. BP are projecting low oil prices for ‘some considerable time’ (see Baird article in this issue for a more optimistic viewpoint). The revised gospel according to BP is that Oil has become a commodity, and it is ‘in the nature of things for commodities to get cheaper’. A 50% forecast slow-down in world growth for 1999 does not help matters. In Business Process Reengineering (BPR) terms, the options for a company are usually to be either small, responsive and focused or big enough to benefit from economies of scale. BP’s plan therefore, is to be both of these by creating some 134 new assets and keeping a thin umbrella organization to reap the benefits of scale.

Impact on data management

Since we are therefore in a low margin business, there is no long term money any more for mundane chores like Data Management. Mottershead painted a jaded picture of the history of data management in BP. From the early days when BP realized they had 34 varieties of SEG-Y in house, through the POSC data model, Common Data Aaccess, to integrated tools such as GeoFrame. Current interest centers on the Shared Earth Model from Geomatic – used to store interpreted data in a geo-registered 3D environment - and common workflows from Landmark. But there is still a huge gap between reality and aspirations, we are still "searching for high quality data and we get irritated when it is not there". Mottershead suggested that we should back off from such aspirations of perfection. Far from the vaunted 80/20 rule – where solutions should aim at supplying the 80 % of the most used functionality, current data management struggles to get near to a 50% solution to our woes. Mottershead’s solution? A top-down analysis beginning at the level of the business process and going down to the nitty-gritty level of SEG-Y and the like.

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Letter from David Archer, POSC (January 1999)

PDM’s BO-frameworks - a mixed bag!

Neil,

Too bad that the news on the new OpenSpirit members didn't become public before the December issue of PDM -- you might have altered the table of frameworks to list several of the entries as "OpenSpirit". I must say that I found your list of "BO frameworks " a bit of a mixed bag. For example, I don't think of DAEX as being the same sort of beast as either GeoFrame or OpenWorks -- likewise, being CORBA-based or not is not the defining characteristic of a business object framework. I understand that you're trying to make the case that different organizations still have different underlying software infrastructures, but the comparisons in the table seem a little uneven. Also, distributed object architectures can include APIs; the interesting point is that applications are constructed in significantly different ways; it's not just a renaming exercise.

Monolithic

Programming and deploying monolithic applications in C (or any other language) is significantly different from building systems from collections of components. Component based development requires a different (new) way of thinking about the application business. It's all about reuse of components, an ability to add new functionality incrementally, improved connectivity to data from different sources, lower maintenance costs, reliability and rapid deployment. I agree that even with all the above and the level of interoperability promised by frameworks such as OpenSpirit, we will still have to deal with many of the fundamental data issues that you list in the article. While better application interoperability will not solve all the information management issues that we face, better interoperability will greatly improve our ability to share information - an important development in its own right.

New website

By the way, I checked out your rejuvenated website. The site is good. Lots of good information nicely arranged. The main complaint that I have is that when I do a search from http://www.the-data-room.com/Pdm/main.htm the dates associated with the articles refer to when they hit the disk rather than the dates they were published. This makes it a little difficult to decide what to look at and in which order. Or maybe I missed something. In any event, I'm sure that I'll spend some time on the site. All the best for another "interesting" year.

David Archer.

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Letter from Najib Abusalbi and Davide Santini, GeoQuest. (January 1999)

Is PowerPlan POSC Compliant?

Neil,

In last month’s PDM you queried how exactly PowerPlan could claim to be POSC compliant. Firstly we would like to point out that while POSC has not to-date specified all aspects of compliance for products developed on the PC environment, most of the POSC E&P standards, especially the data standards critical to integration and interoperability with other products (e.g., the Epicentre data model), are platform independent. These standards hence apply equally to products developed on PC or UNIX platform. PowerPlan, a key application in the Drilling Office suite recently commercialized by GeoQuest, uses the GeoFrame data store, and logical data model, to access data. The GeoFrame data model compliance with the POSC Epicentre has been already established.

SIP

The data store used by PowerPlan is identical to, and is actually shared by, all the products developed on the GeoFrame SIP (Software Integration Platform), whether on UNIX or Windows NT operating system. Note that POSC is planning to launch a new project to upgrade the BCS (Base Computing Standards) to include PC as well as UNIX. Assuming this project is launched, we would consider contributing the standards specifications used to develop the Drilling Office product to POSC. You also raised the question as to how newly-acquired products from OTS be POSC compliant. In reality, the OTS software, TDAS and WEST, are not currently POSC compliant since they are a new addition to Geoquest's suite Drilling Office. Once their data standards will be integrated with Drilling Office in the next versions they will adopt the similar POSC compliancy above mentioned used for PowerPlan.

Najib Abusalbi and Davide Santini, GeoQuest.

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Data Managers polled in S&A Survey (January 1999)

Helen Stephenson, Director of Stephenson and Associates (S&A) presented the results of a survey that S&A carried out recently at the SMI Data Management conference in London. Helen has kindly supplied this resume of the results of the survey, which offers some interesting metrics on the current status of data management in E&P.

My company is actively involved in upstream data management throughout the world and consequently, as with most of you, the health of the data management business is of prime concern. In January 1998 I was asked to give a paper at the SMI data management conference discussing why the then current climate favored data management and what companies could do to take advantage of the situation. When asked to give an update at the 1999 conference, we decided to take a rain check on data management activity and intentions throughout the industry and in January this year polled 19 companies in Europe, the USA and Australia. We received replies from 14 companies which was quite an honorable turnout. Replies all came from data management specialists, so they do represent the current and likely future state of play in the companies surveyed.

progress

In the survey we asked about progress with regard to a number of specific data management activities, differences in data management resources and budgets between 1998 and 1999, and principal projects undertaken in 1998 and planned for 1999. We also looked at factors that were currently enabling or constraining data management progress. We found that a large majority of our respondents had defined their objectives in data management, although such objectives in most cases had been set out relatively recently. We then asked companies whether they had instigated any measurement of their achievement of these objectives. Approximately one third of the sample were monitoring their progress, with another third intending to do so. Standards figured high in the data managers’ priorities.

Enforced

Over half enforced at least some standards, procedures and processes, with nearly all the remainder planning, or implementing these. Only 10% of the sample had no policy on standards. We also looked at who does what in the data management field, first by checking whether there was any attempt to define roles and responsibilities. 66% had defined roles, 5% had no role definition, with the rest in various stages of planning. A similar picture emerges for the actual assignation of responsibility; two thirds have formally assigned data management responsibilities. Looking further into who was actually doing the data management we found the roles distributed as follows;


Finally we looked into resource allocation forecasts for 1999 and found that over half of the sample will be devoting less resources to data management in 1999 over the previous year.

The reasons for the changes were cited as follows:

The bottom five categories were cited as reasons for decline and the top four as positive factors where resources would stay the same or increase. A similar picture emerged for data management budgets, which are generally forecast as down on 1999. I’d like to summarize the results of our findings. There’s good news and bad news.

Bad news

Lack of interest at the middle management level.

Shortage of qualified/experienced people.

Regional budget cuts and limited resources.

Low oil price affecting data management benefits and disrupting current projects.

Rate of technology change.

Awareness of the importance of data management at ground level, not matched by management willingness to supply resources to tackle the problem.

Good news

Top level management convinced of requirement for data management effort and expenditure.

Data being treated as an asset.

Operating companies have separate budgets.

Objective is to integrate all data types.

Web and GIS access to data stores.

CD, and soon DVD, technology at the desktop.

Enhanced inventories of on-line and archived data have reduced the time required to find data.

In the survey, we also asked for a time line as to when each stage of planning or implementing data management activity had been initiated. A small but significant trend was observable in so far as most of the work started in 1992, the heyday of data management was 1997, with a small decline in the numbers for 1998. We suspect that this reflects renewed short-termism in the industry rather than a job completed! The full results of our survey are available on the Stephenson and Associates website at http://www.s-and-a.com.

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IHS Energy to purchase Canadian data outlet. (January 1999)

IHS Energy unit PI/Dwights Canada is in the process of finalizing the acquisition of Calgary-based International Petrodata Limited. IPL is thought to possess one of the best-kept well databases in the business

Petroleum Information/Dwights Canada Ltd., (PIDC) has signed a Letter of Intent to purchase International Petrodata Limited (IPL). Closure is anticipated by mid February. The deal will bring the IPL well file together with PIDC’s land data. The move is intriguing in the light of earlier consolidation in the Calgary data vendor arena. Mapping software vendor Accumap previously had an agreement with IPL to supply the IPL dataset in Accumap format. This provided Calgary customers with what was considered by some as a best of breed combination. Last year, Accumap Enerdata Corp. was acquired by QC Data, Calgary’s main local data vendor and competitor to PI/Dwights. A Calgary source told PDM "IPL is recognized in Calgary as having the best quality comprehensive database of Canadian wells thanks to their rigorous process of data capture and verification. Similarly, Accumap has proved a very successful application for the delivery of such data. The new deal brings some complicated issues to customers using Accumap and the IPL dataset and generally, the Calgary data market is shaking down to a battle between QC Data and IHS Energy."

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Virtual Reality comes of Age at Silicon’s Galveston show. (January 1999)

Following PDM’s downbeat review of VR (see PDM Vol 3 No 10) Silicon Graphics have made a significant pitch for explorationists’ virtual hearts and minds at the 1999 High Performance Visualization and Computing Summit held at Galveston, Texas. Laramie Winczewski, president of Fourth Wave Group (http://www.fourthwavegroup.com) has kindly supplied us with an enthusiastic view from the exhibition floor.

The High Performance Visualization and Computing Summit, sponsored by Silicon Graphics Computer Systems (SGI), was held in Galveston, Texas this month with around 325 attendees, representing 78 businesses and organizations from 15 countries. Nineteen vendors exhibited several applications of immersive visualization technologies. Thirty presentations and discussion panels addressed topics ranging from the basics of the technology to its effects on workflow. Case studies illustrated the technology's business value and role in the workplace.

No escape

Immersive visualization fills the user’s field of view, monopolizing the visual sense. One speaker said, "You can't get away from the data!" while Mike Zeitlin of Texaco added "Let the mind look at it". Immersive visualization fosters collaboration among members of a multi-disciplinary team. Within the room-size scale of an immersion facility, team members can readily communicate to each other comments, concerns, issues and discoveries. Real-time sharing of information and expertise enables knowledge workers to consider more aspects of the displayed content. Such lively collaboration, yields a higher quality intellectual product with better understood risk factors. Examples included; changing the location of a seafloor facility to reduce pipeline costs, and optimizing the number of wells required to drain a reservoir. Large exploration projects normally requiring months of analysis can be completed in weeks or less thanks to immersive visualization. Management comprehension of project results is also facilitated. Although one contrary opinion was expressed by a vocal proponent of immersive visualization. "Keep managers away from it!" he warned.

Selling VR

Technology issues range from the inadequacy of the technical standards necessary for data and systems integration, to the slow progress of software vendors in retrofitting popular software to this technology. Several immersive visualization facilities were installed across the petroleum industry last year. A concern amongst attendees was the need to "sell" this expensive technology to management during the industry's current downturn. The value of immersive visualization lies in enhancing opportunity and avoiding risks. For example, immersive technology helps interpreters "see" a variety of obscure drilling prospects that, in the aggregate, may be as valuable as a large, obvious seismic structure. Cost reduction benefits were considered to be of secondary importance. Some issues have yet to be adequately addressed:

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System integration of the immersive visualization product with related technical infrastructure components (January 1999)

impact of content quality/availability on the effective use of a visualization facility

adaptability of people to the teamwork dynamics that occurs within an immersion workspace

the business implications of a potentially rapid deployment of this technology across the industry

adjustment of managers to the pace and other administrative demands of the new work environment

The ultimate value of immersive visualization technology is limited by the effects of issues that are associated more with business culture and system integration than the visualization technology itself. Copyright ©1999 Fourth Wave Group, Inc. 713 932-1901 and http://www.fourthwavegroup.com

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Special Offer – VR jacket (January 1999)

PDM announces availability of the 'VR Arm-Waving Jacket' for use in confined workplaces such as the VisionDome and the Cave. This essential equipment allows virtual asset teams to gesticulate in safety.

With collaborative teams cramming into restrictive environments such as the Vision Dome or the Cave, co-workers run the risk of injury to each other and to the facility through involuntary movement of limbs. The answer to this problem is the VR Arm-Waving Jacket available exclusively from PDM. This smart apparel restricts movement to a level suitable for interdisciplinary collaboration, while avoiding injury to coworkers and damage to the facility. Special Co-Operative tags on the AW-Jacket allow a whole asset team to be attached together virtually guaranteeing interdisciplinary cooperation. Holders for coffee cups also available. We are also working on a virtual ejection seat to allow virtually enlightened knowledge workers to blast themselves straight into the board room. The VR Arm-Waving Jacket is available from PDM at the special price of $99.99 plus (virtual) taxes.

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Upcoming Conferences (January 1999)

Dates for your Diary....

March 2 - 4 GeoQuest European User Forum Paris Christine Hatcher Hatcher@gatwick.geoquest.slb.com
March 15-16 First Conferences Knowledge Management London Rachel Hardy +44 171 400 9595 Rachel@firstconf.com
April 7-9 IGN/ISPRS 3D Geospatial Data Production Paris Ghislaine Bordes +33 1 4398 8581 www.ign.fr/sfpt/manifestations/paris_99_us.html
April 11-14 AAPG Annual Convention San Antonio   916 560 2617
April 26-28 PNEC Petroleum Data Integration Conference. Houston Philip Crouse 214 841 0046 crouse_phil@msn.com.
April 29-30 PPDM Spring Meeting Houston Carol Paulin Info@ppdm.org

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Baird forecasts upturn in early 2000! (January 1999)

Schlumberger 1998 Results show slight rise, and CEO Euan Baird makes a bold forecast for an industry upturn early in 2000.

Schlumberger Limited reported operating revenue for 1998 of $11.82 billion, an increase of 2% over 1997. Before the third quarter charge, net income and diluted earnings per share were $1.39 billion and $2.49, 1% higher than last year. Oilfield Services revenue declined 10% as the rig count fell 30%. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Euan Baird commented: "The weakening in E&P spending provoked by the flattening of demand in 1998 will continue well into this year."

Recovery in sight!

Baird continued "We expect that falling non-OPEC supply due to the decreased expenditure, coupled with a recovery in the Asian oil demand, will produce higher oil prices and oilfield services activity in early 2000." For the technically inclined, Schlumberger report a ‘world record’ in marine acquisition. The seismic boat Geco Orion set a new standard by towing 6 streamers, each 8 km long in a spread 1 km wide (5 miles by 3,300 feet)! PDM was wondering what the processing mute looks like on an 8 km spread?

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