January 2002


1.4 Petabyte library

Seitel’s ‘Class One’ data center in Houston will open its doors in March. The center will offer web access to Seitel’s 1.4 Petabyte seismic dataset - along with GIS data from Tobin International.

Originally announced in Oil IT Journal Vol. 6 N° 1, Seitel’s first ‘Class One’ data center, located in Houston, will go live in March, offering web-based access to Seitel’s 1.4 Petabyte seismic library. A second data center will open in Calgary later this year.

Seitel Solutions

The centers are run by Seitel’s wholly-owned subsidiary Seitel Solutions and will provide online access to wells data and public domain information. The 72,000 square foot facility will serve data across the internet 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

Cost savings

Seitel expects that its investment in the data center will broaden its product and service offerings and will expand revenue opportunities in the future. The center will replace outsourced services in Canada and the United States, leading to cost savings for the second half of 2002.

Frame

Seitel president and CEO Paul Frame said, “Seitel Solutions will provide our clients a new state-of-the-art solution for finding oil and gas reserves at reduced costs. Our clients can receive seismic data ordered from our on-line archive, delivered to their workstations in less than ten minutes, on average.” Disaster recovery support will be assured by a broadband network connection between the Houston and Calgary data centers. GIS-based access to the Seitel dataset has been developed using Autodesk’s MapGuide distributed mapping tools.

O’Neill

The new center is headed up by Dennis O’Neill who was previously Schlumberger’s IT Architecture and Planning Manager. The Class One center is expected to cost around $18 million and will showcase a massive spatial dataset from Tobin International.

Superbase

Tobin’s Superbase, a suite of digital mapping tools is claimed to be the ‘largest dynamic, continuous topologically-structured mapping database in the commercial world.’ The high-resolution vector and raster data covering all of the continental U.S. as well as other areas of the world will give geographical context to users of the Seitel dataset. Seismic data can be viewed along with existing land surveys, State/County lines, oil and gas well locations, pipelines and roads. See also our exclusive interview with O’Neill on page 9.


GrandBasin hacked!

The Common Data Access bulletin board was attacked by the ‘China Worm’ virus this month. Apart from the embarrassment, no harm was done.

A system used by GrandBasin to host a Bulletin Board for its users was attacked by the sadmind/IIS virus (also known as the ‘China Worm’). GrandBasin told PDM “The Bulletin Board system is an independent Windows server available on the public Internet and does not form part of the PetroBank secure databank.”

Defacement

The worm defaced the homepage of the Microsoft Windows Internet Information Server (not actually used by the Bulletin Board). No further damage was caused and updated patches have been applied to prevent a re-occurrence of the attack.GrandBasin reassured PetroBank users that “This attack posed no threat to client data, or to the integrity of the PetroBank solution.”

Solaris

According to virus watch organization CERT/CC, the China worm exploits a vulnerability in Solaris systems and subsequently installs software to attack Microsoft IIS web servers. To compromise the Solaris systems, the worm takes advantage of a buffer overflow vulnerability in the Solstice sadmind program. We will spare Oil IT Journal readers details of the virus’ ‘message.’


Oil IT Journal - bringing you the big picture!

Oil IT Journal editor Neil McNaughton reflects on how the old Petroleum Data Manager stuck to its early mission statements and how our coverage has consistently sought to bring you the bigger picture. As an example of Oil IT Journal’s scope and prescience, he relates Oil ITJ’s virtual and modest part in Enron’s downfall.

This is the first ever issue of Oil IT Journal! It behooves me therefore to take stock, look forward and pontificate generally on what we are trying to do here. First I’d like to quote briefly from the old Petroleum Data Manager (PDM) - Vol. 1 N° 1. Back in July 1996 we said, “PDM will cover the fields of geology, geophysics, reservoir engineering and IT in general; and standards activity both within E&P and outside. We take a broad view of what ‘data’ means; from bits and bytes through the whole gamut of definitions including knowledge and even as some would have it ‘wisdom.’”

Wisdom a rare commodity?

Well, six and one half years down the road, 66 issues later, I think that we have kept reasonably close to those goals - although I’ll pass on how much wisdom we have managed to collect - that’s been something of a rare commodity through the dot-com days and into the Enron era, but I’ll get back to Enron in a minute.

Extended scope

If I had to tweak that early mission statement, it would be to extend the scope beyond the G&G and engineering focus. Like most everyone in upstream IT, we rode the e-business wave as it built up and came crashing down. This extended our coverage into financial systems Enterprise Resource Planning and Allocation, which we cover on an occasional basis, and into the field of on-line portals - still current as witnessed by this month’s issue.

My part in Enron’s downfall!

So Oil IT Journal is not just about the upstream. Actually, it’s not just about IT either. Our holistic view takes in the industry at large. Which brings me back to Enron. I learned with astonishment from the New York Times that one factor contributing to the Enron debacle was that the company seemingly confounded investors by reporting sales of other people’s commodities as its own revenue stream. This very same confusion was the subject of my editorial in Oil ITJ Vol. 6 N° 1 - published in January 2001, several months before the Enron collapse. I demonstrated using easily obtained public data that the true value of a market - I used the London Stock Exchange as an example - was a miniscule fraction of the money passing through it. At the time my remarks were directed at a few enthusiastic speakers at oil and gas tradeshows who seemed to be getting carried away with the upside potential of the exchanges. I never imagined that a large corporation, its advisors/auditors and most of the financial community could possibly share, or want to believe this strange notion.

Skilling

As I said earlier on, we take a broad view of what constitutes good material for Oil ITJ readers, and we reported, back in our March 2001 edition, from the then Enron president Jeff Skilling, who spoke at last year’s Cambridge Energy Research Associates’ (CERA) week. Skilling advocated the de-capitalization of assets as a route to enhanced profitability. In the same way that Ford Motor company no longer owns its own tire plants (it used to own its own rubber plantations!) the truly modern enterprise should ‘disaggregate*’ - de-verticalize, de-capitalize and focus on specific activities where ‘benefits of scale and competitive advantage can be realized.’

Shenanigans

Independent of Enron’s financial shenanigans, Skilling’s theories raises interesting issues - some of which were taken up by ex-Landmark president Bob Peebler at the 2001 SPE ACTE last October. Peebler, now with start-up Energy Virtual Partners, wants to remove the oil-price related uncertainty from the oil and gas business with a ‘new model for the industry.’ Peebler noted that historically, the E&P business has ‘destroyed capital.’ But what’s worse is that while in the past, oil stocks rose and fell with the oil price, today they seem on a one-way track, decoupled from oil price rises. According to Peebler, they fall when the oil price falls, but don’t bounce back when the market turns around and the oil price heads north.

Virtual, not vertical

One problem in evaluating an oil and gas corporation is the mismatch between the high tech, knowledge-based nature of the business and the ‘commodity nature’ of the .. um .. commodity - oil. Peebler’s theme, echoing Skilling, is to use high-bandwidth connectivity to de-materialize the E&P knowledge work team – ‘virtual, not vertical integration.’ To separate core from non-core. Peebler further notes the evolutionary nature of this process. What’s core today becomes context tomorrow. Peebler believes that the oil and gas service industry itself could benefit from some disaggregation, citing the case of ‘ a small software company operating as a division of a large construction company.’ (I wonder who he could have been referring to?) The problem is that the small unit has virtually no effect on the behemoth’s bottom line.

Baby and bathwater

All of which makes me wonder if, now that everyone is beating up on Enron, are we in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater? What is the current thinking on disaggregation, decapitalizing and focusing on knowledge work? Will these ideas continue to having currency in the wake of Enron, and in the face of the relentless, on-going consolidation of oil and gas corporations? (Of the service sector too - Schlumberger has just bought out Norwegian VR shop Inside Reality - more on this next month). So if you’re attending the CERA week next month please ask the folks there what the current thinking on decapitalizing and disaggregation is, and report back to us here at Oil IT Journal!

* Interesting semantics here - the consultants have dreamed up ‘disaggregation’ as the opposite of integration. The more obvious ‘disintegration’ might have been better in Enron’s case.


Oil ITJ Interview - John Sherman

PDM interviews John Sherman, Landmark Graphics Corp.’s head of marketing. Sherman reveals what’s under the hood of R2003, explains why Landmark prefers Oracle Server over OpenSpirt as its integration technology and defines PetroBank’s role.

John Sherman, Landmark’s Executive VP, Marketing and Systems, started with the company in 1989. He managed the development of OpenWorks and spent a year with Dell Computer as Director of software development, before he rejoined Landmark last May.

OIL ITJ - What are the innovations in R2003?

Sherman - There are over 900 enhancements to the product suite and a 160-page book covers the new features of R2003. The focus is on increased integration of the interpretation work process – from prospect to production. This breadth is matched by greater depth at each stage of the process. We have enhanced property analysis with workflows that integrate seismic-derived attributes with simulation. These workflows are further enhanced with more support for the Rescue model, allowing for integration with third party products. Our own StrataModel uses Rescue to export data to the VIP reservoir simulator. Within SeisWorks, we have plenty of core function enhancements. From simplified horizon flattening through ‘tool tips,’ greater ergonomics with reduced mouse clicks, to list-selection of parameters to help the interpreter through everyday tasks. A new 64-bit seismic volume display underpins enhancements to volume exploration with multiple roaming cubes.

OIL ITJ – A la Magic Earth?

Sherman – Yes, we now have a consistent viewing paradigm across Landmark and Magic Earth products.

OIL ITJ - Has this increased integration resulted in significant changes to the E&P workflow? Can the interpreter go back to prestack data, look for processing busts and fix them on the fly?

Sherman – Yes and No. The subject of cross disciplinary integration is an interesting one. Technically is now easy to go back to pre-stack data from the interpretation workstation and to verify stacking velocities, decon parameters etc. Prestack data is now accessible. But the reality is that once such an issue has been raised, any necessary reprocessing is likely to be done off-line by specialists. This is largely due to the increasing specialization of each segment of the workflow. An interpreter experienced in pattern-recognition – looking for turbidites in the Gulf of Mexico for instance – is unlikely to have the specialist skills required for seismic processing. Likewise a geophysicist is unlikely to have the skills required for petrophysical analysis. People tend to focus on their own ‘core business.’ While our integrated software offers them ‘ring use’ of functions that are on the periphery of their main activity, we are not seeing the upstream equivalent of the ‘renaissance man!’

OIL ITJ - What about modeling?

Sherman - The big news of R2003 is that geocellular modeling is now part of StrataModel with the full incorporation of the RC(2) product. Along with this goes enhanced framework building and uncertainty modeling to provide a probabilistic analysis of the veracity of an interpretation. We have added surface auto-tying and many improvements to the guts of the interpretation workflow. The GMA software – LogM is now integrated. Other enhancements include ease of use for VIP – the Simulation Desktop – and continued improvement of Zmap plus – with better management of map data.

OIL ITJ – How do you achieve cross platform interoperability?

Sherman – All of OpenWorks (OW) is built around Oracle Server – this is the key to cross platform deployment. Applications connect to other data stores through – and hence through the underlying Oracle transport mechanisms. You can search seamlessly and transparently across the net from anywhere. A user just sees a list of projects and selects the ones required. Large projects can be shared across multiple servers – again leveraging Oracle technology. Big shops have database administrators who love to play around tuning these systems for performance and improve integration.

OIL ITJ – So Oracle is your Open Spirit?

Sherman – In a sense, with OW and Oracle we get a lot of OpenSpirit-like capabilities. OW and GeoFrame are both cut from the same cloth – both try to be very distributed. OpenSpirit of course positions itself ‘above’ both OpenWorks and GeoFrame and provides one API for access to both systems. This is good for third parties seeking to work in both environments. But it is another layer of middleware and you don’t get something for nothing. For Landmark, there is just not enough benefit if using a CORBA backbone such as OpenSpirit. The other issue is that, because it caters for both environments, it tends to be a lowest common denominator solution. There will inevitably be limits as to what you can do with the OpenSpirit API. Open Spirit targets third party developers, it is good for browsing and mapping, but suffers perhaps from its seismic focus. Of course, Landmark supports OpenSpirit for those who want to use it.

OIL ITJ – But OpenSpirit is about more than just footprints. Updates and maintenance benefit from object technology and dynamically linked libraries as used in Microsoft Windows.

Sherman – Yes the dynamic linking is neat technology. We are trying to implement this in OW, but historically, UNIX has not been very amenable to this. We also have a massive amount of legacy code that would need to be redesigned. But really this is no big deal for Landmark, and the advantage to OpenSpirit is limited, in that they cannot ‘update’ OpenWorks.

OIL ITJ – With the PetroBank acquisition you have acquired a data management system that overlaps with Open Explorer?

Sherman – Not really. We are very pleased about the PetroBank acquisition and the ongoing PetroBank success story. PetroBank’s growing use is in the multi-client data repository environment. Open Explorer shines in the management of a large collection of OpenWorks projects. We are excited by the growing use of PetroBank by US-based mid-sized companies.

OIL ITJ – What is the status of your Linux releases?

Sherman – We will be releasing R2003 on Linux later this year. VIP and Promax are already working on Linux. Linux is a lot of fun to work with.


Errata

The old Petroleum Data Manager went out in style with a number of ‘bloopers’ - we rectify them here with apologies to the injured parties.

We incorrectly reported David Archer’s position with POSC - he is President & CEO. The chairman is ExxonMobil’s Bill Ragosa. Archer points out that the POSC Units Converter is not actually Open Source. However the source code is available on the POSC website. It is also likely to be offered as a Web Service in the near future.

CGG

In the piece on CGG’s Redhill installation we mistakenly referred to Network Application - that should have read Network Appliance - we should have just stuck with NetApp! A propos of the same piece, Laurent Delorme pointed out that the number of concurrent projects refers to the Redhill center alone. CGG may have as many as 50 projects on the go at each of its major centers.

ESRI

Commenting our Standards centerpiece Andrew Zolnai from ESRI points out that the PPDM Spatial II initiative was not “initiated by ESRI” as we stated. Zolnai says, “ Spatial II was launched by a group of Canadian companies requesting ESRI’s help, and recently expanded to US companies and abroad.” Zolnai added, “Stay tuned, ESRI has a draft specification for well data and PPDM is nearing its funding goal to proceed with the data modeling.” 

GeoGraphiX

In our piece on Landmark’s GeoGraphix a typo in the headline incorrectly referred to product as ‘Geographics,’ a throwback to our early exposure to an unrelated product from Scott Pickford!


Wellogix web software for Repsol YPF

Repsol is testing e-business software from Wellogix in a pilot project at Neuquen, Argentina.

Repsol YPF is to deploy Wellogix software to streamline the specification process for oilfield services, and to enhance engineers’ working environments, by improving internal communication among project teams.

Neuquen

The initial stage of the deployment will focus on a drilling project in Neuquen, Argentina and will center around five service categories: Stimulation, Primary Cementing, Drilling Mud, Logging Services, and Geological Control. The pilot project aims to test the capabilities of the solution and define workflows, before rollout to other areas.

Diz

Repsol’s E&P e-Business director Agustin Diz said, “We realized that integrating processes between contractors and oil companies is critical for success. Wellogix enables this through its own tools and integration to third party applications.”

International

The Repsol deal is Wellogix’ first ‘customer-led’ project from outside North America. Wellogix’ software streamlines workflow, improves collaboration, enhances communication with service providers, connects financial and technical data, and strengthens knowledge management for business projects of any size.


Global Mapper from Rockware

Rockware’s Global Mapper offers geo-data browsing and map making from a range of formats.

Global Mapper (GM) from Rockware provides GIS data browsing, merger, import and export of a range of vector, raster and elevation data sets. GM also works as a file format converter, for previewing data exporting to a wide variety of other GIS data formats.

Formats

GM can visualize most popular GIS data formats, including DLG-O, DRG, DOQ, DEM, DXF, SDTS DLG, SDTS DEM, MrSID, ESRI Shapefiles, E00, GTOPO30, TerrainBase, ETOPO2 and more.

Export

The package can export vector, raster, and elevation data to a variety of formats. Data from disparate sources, scales and projections can be merged before export in vector formats such as USGS DLG-O, AutoCAD DXF and ESRI Shapefiles. Raster data export formats include GeoTIFF, various Digital Elevation Model (DEM) formats and ASCII grids.

Contour

Contours can be created from disparate elevation data types and exported to DXF, DLG-O, or ESRI Shapefile formats. Other GM functionality includes screen capture, batch file conversions and pop-up descriptions of features on mouse-over. GM pricing starts at $129.00 for a single-user license. More from www.rockware.com.


Statoil buys more Irap RMS

Following its sales to Hydro and Phillips Norway, Roxar has signed a 20 million NOK contract with Statoil.

Statoil and Roxar have signed a software agreement that will meet Statoil's growing demand for access to Roxar’s reservoir modeling system Irap RMS. The contract runs over the next two years, and is worth 20 million Norwegian Kroner. The agreement results from Statoil’s growing use of 3D modeling.

Esslemont

Roxar COO, Sandy Esslemont said, “In addition to the recent contract awards from Norsk Hydro and several other oil and gas companies, this agreement emphasizes Irap RMS as the 3D modeling solution of choice in the oil and gas industry”.


Affordable cluster from Rocketcalc

Rocketcalc’s Redstone 8 CPU Linux cluster promises low cost multi-GigaFlop performance.

Ohio-based startup Rocketcalc has introduced a compact, economical cluster computer for scientific computing, parallel code development and graphics applications. ‘Redstone’ is a diskless Linux cluster, containing eight Pentium III processors, connected by 100Mbps, switched Ethernet and housing up to 8GB PC-133 SDRAM.

Motor

Redstone is powered by Motor, an embedded Linux distribution residing in non-volatile flash RAM. Motor is described as a robust and easy-to-manage system that integrates with x86 Linux computers. The included software provides a simple interface for system monitoring, power control, and cluster management.

Lewis

Bryan Lewis, principal partner at Rocketcalc said, “Our idea is to provide high-performance, low cost and easy to manage hardware and software, designed from the user’s perspective.” More from www.rocketcalc.com.

A top of the range Redstone with 8 x 1GHz Pentium III processors, 8GB Total system RAM (1GB/processor) and 256MB Flash RAM costs $6,500.


Rock Solid Images Petro Tools V2.7

Rock Solid Images’ PetroTools rock physics software now offers shear wave synthetics

Rock Solid Images, a spin-off of Amos Nur’s Stanford research program, has released a new version of PetroTools. Release 2.7 shipped last month and includes new features such as a Hertz-Mindlin-Hashin-Shtrikman (HSHM) Build-Rock tool based on a model developed by Dvorkin and Nur. This technique is said to have been tested in many clastic environments.

Shear wave

An HMHS shear wave velocity predictor and a ‘modified patchy fluid mixer’ (great for Bloody Marys!), based on research by Sengupta and Mavko are also available in the new release.

FlexLM

A FlexLM license manager is now available for the software to optimize occasional use of the software in a multi-user environment. PetroTools petrophysical analysis and seismic modeling is used by over 250 licensees worldwide.


ECL expands through acquisitions

Exploration Consultants Limited merges with Alistair Beach and buys Energy Innovations

Following the acquisition of Energy Innovations Ltd. (EIL) and its USA Subsidiary (Houston Geoscan Inc.) last month, Exploration Consultants Ltd. (ECL) is to merge with Alistair Beach Associates.

Seismic QC

UK-based ECL provides services and software tools for the quality control of seismic acquisition. ECL’s Sirius provides seismic navigation QC and processing, other tools include ECL Vega, a suite of utilities for land and OBC surveying and Canopus for first break picking.

Structural geology

EIL is similarly involved in seismic acquisition QC whereas Alistair Beach Associates (ABA) works in the field of structural geology. ABA’s FaultRes and FracMod help companies investigate faults and fractures in cores and seismic data. The Combined Group employs around 110 full time staff and over 160 Consultants on Field Operations and QC Services.


Completions and workovers

Aussie research organization CSIRO is developing well completion and workover software for Petrobras and Anadarko

Scientists from CSIRO, the Australian national research council, are developing a software and data management system to help optimize well completions and workover operations. The new tool has been developed from CSIRO’s Genesis drilling analysis and well design package. Genesis comprises a data analyzer and designer module and leverages experience gathered in previous drilling activity.

Nakagawa

CSIRO team leader Edson Nakagawa said, “The new Completions module will help users retrieve knowledge for use in similar areas and conditions. New well completions often use similar production strings and operational procedures. The same principle will be applied to workovers – with a database of intervention and maintenance history.”

Noble Engineering

Genesis is sold through Noble Engineering. The new software development is sponsored by Noble, Petrobras and Anadarko.


PESGB Data Management Seminar

The Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain’s Data Management Seminar was held in London last month in Burlington House on Piccadilly, the stately home of the Geological Society. This excellent location allows for impromptu viewing of “The Map,” William Smith’s 1815 stratigraphy of the British Isles. Highlights of the meeting were Tim Haynes’ (Ceradon) un-presented paper on environmental data management, Paul Duller’s (Instant Library) heads-up on a new ISO standard for document management and Dave Gunn’s (Southampton Oceanography Center) review of emerging standards in ‘discovery level’ GIS metadata. Also worthy of note is the new GrandBasin - Accenture’s joint venture into the corporate portal – ‘E&P Online’.

Nick Blake (Lynx) explained “Why GIS is good for data managers - you!” Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are set to change the poor image that conventional data management has suffered from in the past. GIS-enabled data management offers immediate and visible return on investment.

Explorationist’s dream world

Noting that Landmark (with Open Explorer) and IHS Energy (with Probe) both deploy ESRI’s ArcView, Lynx has followed suit and is building the explorationist’s ‘dream world’ offering GIS access to the corporate data base from the desktop. Lynx software adds SEG Y and other vertical viewers to ArcView, and Adobe Acrobat to view bitmaps, manipulated using compression software from MrSID. Geological cross sections can be constructed with ArcView scripts and 3D Analyst offers perspective viewing. Why ESRI? ESRI has 1 million licenses, the ESRI Petroleum User Group is ‘very active’ and ESRI is in the top ten software companies for R&D expenditure. Lynx produces data packages for sale which are sold in GIS format for integration with corporate data. In the future, ArcIMS will allow for data to be held in SDO/SDE on a server with web access from a browser.

Green data

Tim Haynes (Ceradon) was unable to present his paper, we report from his handout. Haynes stresses the growing importance of the environment in oil and gas. Corporations now report a ‘triple bottom line’ based on economics, social and environmental sustainability. Haynes’ thesis is that these new constraints mean that “timely and reliable access to the ‘greener’ part of the data spectrum is now a necessity.”

Waste management

Environmental measures and drivers include emissions to air, discharges to water, waste management, contaminated estate, hazardous substances and nuisance. Companies must manage liabilities such as the failure to apply for licenses, permits, bad public relations, emissions trading penalties and compliance audits. Green data management should monitor targets against achievements, and measure the environmental impact across multiple business streams. The usual data management issues apply to green data - QC, data preservation and meaningful presentation. Particular green constraints include legal and audit implications and the need for continuous monitoring. Green data is moving from a secondary data source to mainstream, auditable publicly available record. So watch out for the legal consequences of poor data quality and management. Inadequate data access, quality and audit can have legal, financial and public relations implications in the broader world. More from www.ceradon.com.

E&P Online

The recently announced joint venture between Landmark and Accenture is bearing fruit in a new upstream portal “E&P Online.” E&P Online is ‘not a product’ – yet, but sets out to showcase technology from SAP and Plumtree to provide a configurable user interface to corporate and other data sources. The E&P Online home page is a dashboard-like screen, configurable to display news feeds, alerts, key performance indicators, contacts and email linked to tasks and a calendar.

Workflow tools

The intent is to develop workflow tools to guide users through prospect evaluation. The specificities and challenges of working with high-volume upstream data are addressed by incorporating proven PetroBank technology. Heavy-duty UNIX-based applications can be run over low bandwidth links (ISDN), using hosting software (Citrix MetaFrame). GrandBasin, Halliburton/Landmark's e-business unit intends to leverage the global HAL network to support the Portal. You can check out the portal on www.eandponline.com.

Data Migration

For Common Data Access’ Peter McCartney, data migration is a human activity that uses technology - not vice versa! McCartney recommends using the ‘best data model available’ and populate it correctly. Provisional standards recognized by CDA include the DTI Well Header, the POSC Data Model, EPSG Coordinate reference system and SEG Trace Formats. CDA now supplies a backdrop of coastlines and other North Sea data in ‘Open Source’ format. Pressed on what was ‘the best’ data model, McCartney opined that both the POSC and PPDM model were ‘perfectly good’. Both have had ‘lots of energy put into them.’ The real problem is in getting data from one to the other; for McCartney this is ‘rather like the MAC-PC debate.’

Atlas Online

Steve Kentish from Baker Atlas e-business unit Atlas Online wants to eliminate paper and tapes from data delivery by replacing them with https (the s is for secure) connections. These will facilitate offsite backups and controlled, distributed project areas. It is now possible to run a log in Angola and transmit the data by satellite to Aberdeen for processing and on to a client in Milan. But better, a two-way link allows for rig site access to the database, so operators can view offset well data. POSC curve type and units are used - data is archived in Recall in original format with entitlements set to allow for partner access. This web-enabled archival and retrieval system will support Application Service Provision (ASP) real soon now! Check the system out on www.totalrecall.cc.

Java GeoScope

Wally Jacubowicz (Hampton Data Services) unveiled the new, Java/ArcView interface to Hampton’s GeoScope. The new technology allows for the merger of GIS themes (data sources) on different servers. User interface enhancements allow for drag and dropping of file icons around the tree-view, to re-organize data on the fly - note that the files themselves do not move. For Jacubowicz , the key to the system is its use of unique document identifiers. GeoScope is said to be highly configurable and is being extended to Health Safety and the Environment (HSE) reporting.

ISO 15489

Paul Duller (Instant Library) offered a heads-up on an important new standard coming from the International Standards Organization (ISO). The ISO 15489 international standard for information and document management was launched at the American Records Management Association (ARMA) conference in Canada this year. Based on an Australian standard used by BHP, the ISO program involves the design and implementation of record keeping systems. Currently, Duller is unsure what the take-up will be but the early Australian adopters believe it will have significant impact. More from www.iso.ch.

Metadata standards

Still on the theme of standards, Dave Gunn (Southampton Oceanography Center) provided an overview of current developments in ‘discovery-level’ geospatial metadata standards. Gunn has been working on the Eurocore project (www.eu-seased.net ) collection of 22000 sea floor samples and realized that metadata standards were needed to allow data consumers to ‘discover’ geographical datasets without necessarily accessing the bulk data. Similar needs for ‘discovery-level’ metadata have been noted in fields such as hydrography, telecommunications, environment, resource management, and marine geology. There has been some EU work on GIS metadata standards, but this ended up ‘arguing about terminology.’ Other projects include the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC ) spatial metadata standard and the Dublin Core metadata standard.

Internet Geoscience Data Index

Geremy Giles of the British Geological Survey believes that there is no gain without (data) pain! Using a subsurface model from the mining industry, Giles stressed that serious use of spatial data in a business requires a knowledge of the degree of confidence in the data and observations making up the model. BGS’ work builds on data acquired over four centuries. This can prove something of a liability - the BGS was sued recently over a 19th century mapping error involving a single data point!

Geological Lexicon

To reduce ambiguity in geological mapping and modeling, BGS has built a lexicon of formation names used to enforce a standards nomenclature. The BGS has put its data management rationale to the test in the Internet Geoscience Data Index - IGDI on www.bgs.ac.uk/geoindex/. Here the original flight lines or data points can be seen along with the full data sets. Data Management and ‘discovery-level’ metadata are the keys to proper support of modeling. For more on the BGS approach to metadata management see www.bgs.ac.uk/discoverymetadata/home.html.

Metadata standards

Steve Kentish had a second crack at the whip with a paper on data management in practice. Key issues are who is responsible for data management, who is responsible for the system and are these functions core business for the organization? Kentish observes that upstream interpretation is frequently done on incomplete data. Data management should aim at using all available data, and at freeing up time spent by geoscientists in controlling lost or missing data, and in cleaning existing data to a consistent state. Evaluation of such wasted time can provide a powerful business case and cost driver for data management projects. Where are we heading today? Kentish notes, “More data will be acquired in the next 5 years than in the last 50!”

33 million curve meters

For Baker Atlas, such data cleanup is exemplified by a recent BP contract involving the QC/QA of 2,500 wells, 52,000 curves and 33 million curve meters. QC was ‘built in’ to the work process - you cannot load a curve unless it is ‘clean’. Lessons learned from this project - do not start too quickly, don't finalize procedures too soon and start small. Recall templates ensure consistency and provide an auditable QC trail and standard procedures.

Traceability

Thorough operator training is required and record sheets ensure traceability of changes through a checklist. These are built around an Access database (with web access for operators) that tracks project progress. Baker mirrors the client’s software system onto a local project network, independent of the Atlas group network. Recall now handles VSP logs, cores and photomicrographs. Similar projects have involved database cleanup and core analysis databasing. Kentish notes that “there are no standards for core analysis data”.


ATS to merge with Cognicase

IT Group Cognicase is a new entrant to the oil and gas IT scene with the acquisition of ASP-specialist Applied Terravision Systems.

Montreal-based Cognicase is to acquire Applied Terravision Systems (ATS) in a cash and paper deal. Cognicase is an e-business and wireless technology specialist with 3,800 employees in North America, Europe and Australia. The pre-merger agreement includes a cash payment to ATS shareholders of up to $20 million. ATS provides business process outsourcing (BPO) and application service provider (ASP) to the oil and gas industry.

Tretiak

ATS president and CEO Bob Tretiak said, “ATS is recommending acceptance of the Cognicase offer because of the Company’s proven track record in building product and service partnerships. I believe that our employees, customers and shareholders will all benefit as a result of this transaction since both companies share a very similar vision and have similar business models.”

Brisebois

Cognicase’s chairman, president and CEO Ronald Brisebois added, “This transaction will complement Cognicase's business process outsourcing and ASP practice. It will create significant revenue synergies resulting from horizontal capability in the Business Process Outsourcing services division as well as open the doors to the southwestern U.S. market.”

InterestWell

ATS technology includes InterestWell, a single-source corporate repository for proprietary well data, and the ATS suite of production management solutions for field data capture include Production Volume Reporting, Gas Facilities Reporting, and a Contracts & Nominations System. These applications provide business solutions for company stakeholders involved with Field Operations, Engineering, Exploitation, Production Accounting, Financial Accounting, Information Technology, Marketing and Corporate Reporting.

Oil and Gas

Cognicase plans to become a significant player in the oil and gas vertical market by leveraging ATS’ e-solutions in the fields of financial, operational, ownership and asset management. In fiscal 2001 ATS lost $2.1 million on revenue of $36.9 million (75% from its US operations). The transaction is subject to the approval of Applied Terravision shareholders voting at a special meeting.

 


OpenWorks Release ‘2003’

A new release, the fourth in its history, of Landmark Graphics’ Open Works integrated software provides a foundation for its new Linux-based products and optimized field development.

Landmark Graphics Corp. has just announced delivery of Release 2003 (R2003) of its OpenWorks integrated interpretation software and data management environment. R2003 enables oil companies to ‘identify and qualify prospects faster, plan wells better and optimize field development and production.’ R2003 is the foundation for increased product availability on Linux. Seismic processing (ProMax) and reservoir modeling (VIP) have been ported to Linux, other products will be announced later in the year.

Gibson

Landmark president and CEO John Gibson said of the release, “Landmark’s technology targets the bottom line, enabling our customers to lower finding, developing and lifting costs. Responding to the need for more efficient use of IT, we’ve delivered greater productivity and reduced infrastructure costs. The expanded integration footprint now includes development and production, for closer collaboration and increased productivity. This ASP-ready release provides broad support for internally and externally hosted environments that can lead to significantly reduced hardware and infrastructure costs.”

Sherman

Executive VP marketing, John Sherman added, “The new release ‘raises the bar’ by enabling optimized field development by integrating surface facilities visualization, surface pipeline modeling and broad streamlining of seismic-to-simulation workflows and decision making. During the development of R2003 we implemented tuning and scalability enhancements for a customer with 1.7 million wells in its OpenWorks database.”

Roth

Murray Roth, VP Exploration and Development Systems concluded, “The key to productivity improvement is to optimize those work processes with most impact on the bottom line. Our comprehensive approach includes: ergonomic improvements, facilitating expanded team collaboration, and optimizing pure application performance. Customer benchmarks have revealed that our recent enhancements, including reduced button clicks and speedup of application initialization, have resulted in a 50% productivity improvement in core interpretation workflows.

Mapping

Similar enhancements to our mapping package, including user interface and integration enhancements, have resulted in a doubling of productivity in mapping workflows and a 25% improvement in large-survey seismic processing
productivity.”

UNIX

R 2003 supports the latest UNIX platforms from Sun Microsystems and SGI, providing optimized performance on state-of-the-art hardware. R2003 leverages the new data management capabilities of Oracle 8. Remote application display enables optional selection of Windows desktops for end-users with applications located on in-house, or hosted servers.


Oil ITJ Interview - Dennis O’Neill

Before joining Seitel last November, as Senior VP and Chief Information Officer, Dennis O’Neill was IT Architecture and Planning Manager for Schlumberger. O’Neill tells Oil IT Journal what technology is deployed at the data center and how Seitel plans to grow its online business.

Oil ITJ - Last time we looked at Seitel’s data center IBM was closely involved with the project. How has the technology evolved since January last year?

O’Neill - IBM remains a key member of team, supplying of hardware and software. IMB is providing RISC-based AIX Computers and its Tivoli storage management. Near-line data is stored on IBM LTO tape robots with 110 GB per tape capacity.

Oil ITJ - How much of your 1.4 Petabytes will be online?

O’Neill - The new business model - buying and selling over the internet has come from the increased availability of broadband connectivity. But seismic data volumes - especially pre-stack 3D make unrealistic calls on even today’s high capacity metro area networks. Seitel adopts a pragmatic ‘fit for purpose,’ hybrid solution. All the upfront, pre-sale data analysis can be performed using online data. Quite large post-stack datasets can be delivered online, but when a very large pre-stack 3D data set is required, this is likely to be stored and delivered in more conventional ways. Over an OC3 (155MBit) line a significant 3D dataset would take a few days to deliver. But E1 and T1 (1MBit) are good enough for prestack data, QC plots and generally what a potential buyer might need to make a purchase decision. By year-end we expect to have several hundred terabytes on-line/near-line and will grow this figure depending on client demand for desktop/same day delivery.

Oil ITJ - Who are your clients?

O’Neill - We have two internal clients Seitel Data and Olympic Seismic (Seitel’s Canadian arm), and we will be opening up the system to others in March. We are working with data brokers and our sales force so that they can use the system on the road to do a ‘show and tell’. They no longer need to prepare a presentation for each client before they leave the office. Various combinations of data servers and software can be configured, Seitel can install the solution in-house for the existing client base if required, with in-house nearline/online storage.

Oil ITJ - As folks move data off-site, do you do entitlements management à la PetroBank?

O’Neill - Yes we currently deploy entitlements-based access for Seitel and Olympic. But when we are deploying off-site storage for customers, we can configure the system as they desire. We can offer a complete set of hosted, independent hardware and software if a client wants it that way.

Oil ITJ - What were the main IT developments in the center?

O’Neill - First we have enhanced our existing applications with a web-based GIS front end, which offers map-based navigation around our data with geometry and rich seismic metadata online. Second we have implemented online-nearline storage (before, data was in boxes) so that we can now manage our assets more efficiently. Key post-stack data can be put online, with less-often used, but still popular datasets stored near-line on the tape robots. The IBM solution lets the online system talk to the robots so the end result is transparent to the user.

Oil ITJ - Will you be reselling the Tobin data?

O’Neill - The initial deal is to offer a map backdrop giving cultural context to our seismic libraries. Currently this is available for the US and Gulf of Mexico and soon will be for Canada. Our licensing agreement with Tobin gives us monthly updates of evolving map data such as new wells. The data center could become a data portal for other data vendors and we are working with our oil company clients to offer brokerage services for their own data – either through our Solution or via a ‘branded’ portal.


Trade Ranger - ‘sustainable’ Q4 - 2002

Trade Ranger, the e-business portal supported by several major oil companies, is forecasting ‘sustainability’ by the end of the year.

Oil and gas e-business is hovering between dot com demise and breakthrough. Trade-Ranger, the global online procurement exchange, launched last year by several oil and petrochemical companies, is hanging in there and has successfully closed second-round financing from shareholders Dow Chemical, Conoco, ENI, Phillips, Repsol YPF, Shell, Statoil, TotalFinaElf, Unocal and others.

Farley

CEO Claire Farley said, “This new equity, in combination with current buyer membership subscriptions, puts us on a solid path to self-financing by the fourth quarter of 2002.”

‘Growth’

Trade-Ranger claims rapid ‘growth’ in recent months, with suppliers of goods and services signing up ‘at a rate of 25 to 50 per week’ according to Farley. 684 suppliers from North America, Europe and Asia have signed membership agreements with Trade-Ranger and receive basic services, including implementation resources and electronic transaction ability, without charge.

Buyers

Trade-Ranger’s buyer base has grown with non-shareholders joining the exchange as part of their overall e-procurement strategies, bringing the number of buyer members to 20.

Leggate

Shareholder and founder BP is not taking part in the re-financing. In a separate interview with Business Week last month, BP e-business guru John Leggate (a.k.a. ‘Shiny Brain’) said that in 2000, BP set out to move $25 billion worth (95%) of its procurement to the web. In the event, only 4% of BP’s procurement is on-line – which nonetheless represents savings of $100 million to BP according to Leggate.


One-call screening support for utilities

New web-based reporting software may help geophysical and other contractors avoid damage to utilities.

Petris Technology has diversified its geographical information system (GIS) capability to provide environmental compliance support to underground utility owners. Recent Texas legislation requires that underground utility owners provide a call-back service to companies digging up the road to notify them of a “no conflict” status when proposed excavation will not interfere with buried utility lines.

OCS 3

Petris Winds ‘One Call Screening Support System’ (OCS 3 ) addresses the new requirements by electronically receiving and screening Excavation Tickets, organizing them by Call Directing Centers (CDCs) and then transmitting them directly to the appropriate CDC. OCS 3 provides the user a graphical interface, which facilitates the mapping of each location onto a detailed road base using address matching and the Texas Excavation Safety System (TESS) grid referencing system. The system can be used on a laptop or desktop in a distributed computing environment and provides the opportunity to open, categorize, monitor, investigate, and close Excavation Tickets. Once tickets have been processed, the system will automatically email or fax a notification of “no conflict” to the excavator.

Maggio

Robert Maggio, Manager of GIS Operations at Petris Technology, Inc., said, “This application performs work otherwise done over the phone, fax or by email - with significant savings to utility operators. The application integrates into the operators’ existing GIS databases and provides an audit trail showing date, time and identity of the caller.”

Seismic contractors?

Having witnessed geophysical contractors blow up a water main on two occasions, while shooting for weathering velocity determination, Oil ITJ wonders if this may have direct application to the upstream?


New LAS Tools from Logtech

LogTech’s LAS Tools V3.88 offers resampling of irregular depth data. LogTech has also announced new LAS certification software from the Canadian Well Logging Society.

A new version of Calgary-based LogTech’s LAS Tools was released last month. LAS Tools Pro V 3.88 was the fourth major release of 2001.

Irregular depth

LAS Tools 3.88 now reads and converts irregularly depth sampled files including non-log data files such as core data and mud logs. Irregular depth-sampled data is resampled to a consistent, user-defined depth interval suitable for input into other software applications.

Math enhanced

LAS Tools’ Perform Math interface has been improved so that it saves descriptions along with equations used. Curve Name, Units, and Description fields are automatically retrieved along with a saved equation.

CWLS

While outside the scope of LAS Tools, LogTech has received reports from users concerning badly-formed LAS files. The solution is available on the website of the Canadian Well Logging Society.

Data certification

Here there is a new LAS data certification routine which automatically detects and highlights non compliant LAS data. You can download the LAS data certification tool from www.cwls.org/las_info.htm.


OFS Portal comes to life!

Oilfield Service Portal is to develop an e-catalog for the API/PIDEX Complex Products and Services initiative.

OFS Portal, the selling-side e-commerce portal first announced in August 2000 (see Oil ITJ Vol. 5 N° 8) and which went live early last year has been awarded a contract by API unit the Petroleum Industry Data Exchange (PIDX) to ‘help re-energize e-commerce in the upstream oil and gas industry.’

Le Sage

OFS Portal CEO William Le Sage explained, “The structured content and standards that will generate cost savings from e-commerce have been absent until now. OFS Portal is addressing the industry's needs so that oilfield e-commerce can move ahead more quickly and deliver its promised benefits.”

E-catalog

To achieve this, OFS Portal is creating structured e-catalog content, using a product classification scheme that follows API/PIDX standards. This will provide potential buyers with pertinent search results to help match products and services to their requirements.


Winning bid

OFS Portal submitted the winning bid to PIDX to develop and prove the effectiveness of transaction standards for B2B processes, including complex products and services. OFS Portal helped fund various pilot projects including one for the UK DTI’s LOGIC initiative designed to ‘assist in the adoption of oilfield catalog and transaction standards in the U.K. market.’


Dawson teams with 4th Wave

4th Wave Imaging is working with Dawson geophysical to develop cutting edge solutions for high-end seismic processing.

Midland-based Dawson Geophysical Co. has entered into a two-year agreement with 4th Wave Imaging, a California-based group of specialists in the processing and analysis of 3D, 4D and multi-component seismic data.

Cutting edge

4th Wave Imaging will provide technical consulting services along with R&D into cutting-edge seismic processing. 4th Wave are to retain intellectual property rights (IPR) to any new software, technique or patent that may arise from the collaboration while providing Dawson with a perpetual, royalty free license to such developments.

Acquisition

The companies will also co-develop new technology for acquisition, processing and analysis of land surface seismic data. Dawson has been in business for 50 years and now has six high channel 3D seismic crews with 4D and multi-component capabilities. Dawson operates throughout the continental United States with primary operations in the western states.


Blue Marble GeoObjects 3.0

Geographical projection specialist Blue Marble has released a new version of its ActiveX cartographic software component.

Blue Marble Geographics ‘the geographic software tool company’ has released a new version of its GeoObjects ActiveX control with over 50 enhancements. GeoObjects 3.0 allows Windows developers to add mapping and GIS capabilities to their software applications.

On-the-fly

GeoObjects supports most mapping formats and allows for map re-projection on the fly. GeoObjects map control displays the following formats directly without the need for translation or coordinate system conversion: - MapInfo Table, ESRI Shapefile and Atlas GIS, AutoCAD, Excel, MrSID, ECW, TIFF, and others.

Collision avoidance

New cartographic display features include new line styles and fill patterns, highways shields, and text effects. Automatic labeling now offers ‘intelligent’ collision avoidance. Blue Marble currently serves 120,000 customers in over 60 countries. More from www.bluemarblegeo.com.


Folks, offices and .orgs

Movers this month hail from POSC, Landmark, EnergyNet, SCA, HARC, Wellogix and A2D

The Petrotechnical Open Software Corporation (POSC) has appointed Bill Ragosa from Exxon Mobil as Chairman.

...

Online property auctioneer EnergyNet.com, Inc. has taken on Steven Bruton as VP sales and business development.

...

Landmark Graphics, Corp. has opened up a new technical assistance support office in Anchorage, Alaska.

...

Audun Espeland, Managing Director of Landmark Graphics AS in Stavanger, has left to pursue other opportunities. Espeland was a founder of Tape Tech Norge, later acquired by PGS.

...

Bill Via has joined Subsurface Consultants & Assoc. as VP of training. Via was recently president of independent Sharpe Energy.

...

George King is now director of the Energy Group at the Houston Advanced Research Center. King was with Reliant Energy Power System’s Fuel Cell Division before his appointment to HARC.

...

Wellogix has appointed Philip Klahr as VP Knowledge Systems. Klahr was chief knowledge architect for the SoftAd Group, developing rule-based components.

...

A2D Technologies has hired Rod Starr as Senior VP for Enterprise Solutions. Starr previously worked for PetroCosm on the development of e-Content Management Services.


Gas Hydrates drilling study

AGI is to study gas hydrates for the USGS prior to Canadian drilling test.

AGI has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to investigate the effects of drilling, thermal stimulation and gas production on casing stability in the Mallik 5L-38 gas hydrate research well. In February and March, 2002 a group of companies and research organizations are to drill, complete and test a gas hydrate reservoir in the Mackenzie Delta of the Northwest Territories, Canada.

Bottom-tracking

Gas hydrates are a little understood but potentially rich energy source. They are thought to be responsible for bottom-tracking seismic reflections seen over many of the world’s oceans. In November 2000 a trawler brought up massive amounts of gas hydrate (one ton or more) off Vancouver Island. The strange substance boiled away in front of the startled fishermen’s eyes.


Petris reassembles the Geonet pieces

Petris Technology is to offer pay-as-you-go access to software from third party vendors such as Resolve Geosciences and Edinburgh Petroleum Systems, leveraging ASP technology.

Following the demise of Geonet in September last year (see Oil ITJ Vol. 6 N° 10), Petris is picking up the pieces of the failed Application Service Provision (ASP) offering. Petris has just announced Petris Winds Now!, an on-demand ASP software application and services platform for the energy industry. Winds Now! provides software applications from a variety of third party developers in return for a monthly subscription.

Internet

Winds Now! is set ‘to shorten project cycle times and increase productivity’ on core business functions by providing easy access to ‘best-in-class’ applications via the Internet. Winds Now! software hails from various independent software vendors in the areas of geology, geophysics, reservoir engineering, production, asset and inventory management, economics, process engineering and construction. Another new release is PetrisWINDS Plan-IT, a new enterprise collaboration software package that applies the power of the Internet to collaborative teamwork, workflow and communications.

Humphries

Winds Now! product manager Don Humphries said, “A single contract with Petris, gives affordable and immediate access to software from any location with minimal up-front expenditure. Winds Now! gives users the latest versions of critical applications available, allowing them to concentrate on core business rather than software-related issues.”

Software

Available software includes Cossey and Associates’ turbidite field and reservoir database, Ensyste Energy Software’s Prophet, iTREX’s asset and inventory management system and Gastar IV package, Edinburgh Petroleum Services Wellflo and PanSystem (a well test simulator), Engineering Software’s thermodynamics package, Resolve GeoSciences’ SeisShow, Terrasciences TerraStation II and Ultramarine’s MOSES.

8.5% rise

According to Gartner Dataquest, the energy and utility sectors’ IT spend will rise by 8.5% in 2002, leading Petris CEO Jim Pritchett to believe, “The future looks bright for on-demand applications outsourcing and web services and Petris is leading the way.” Additional software deals are in the pipeline and software from Computer Modeling Group, Kernel Technologies, Maurer, Theta Enterprises and Invensys will soon be blowing in the Petris Winds.

Winds Enterprise

Petris is expecting to leverage its own Winds Enterprise data management solution and is working on Enterprise adapters to the ASP-served software. Both Winds Enterprise and Now! will allow for select applications to be installed behind a client firewall, leveraging a company's intranet infrastructure.


SAIC gets Oracle Energy Downstream

Continuing its retreat from vertical software, Oracle has sold its downstream IT business to SAIC Ltd. The Oracle unit, based in the UK and France, will integrate SAIC’s Information Resource Group headed by Lewis Woollett.

SAIC Ltd. has acquired ‘substantially all’ of the Oracle Energy Downstream (OED) Division from Oracle Corporation, including the OED product suite, the Site Fuels Management product and existing customer contracts. The OED Division provides an integrated suite of application modules developed specifically to support the downstream oil and gas industry.

Distribution

The OED Division also provides all design, development, testing, support and maintenance services for the OED product. The OED suite of applications supports key business processes in the downstream oil and gas sector, including the supply, trading, storage and distribution of crude oil and processed products.

Woollett

SAIC Information Resource Group VP Lewis Woollett said, “The acquisition of Oracle Energy Downstream is a significant development for SAIC in Europe. As well as complementing our extensive skill set, the OED acquisition gives us the opportunity to enhance our service offerings to both existing and new clients within the energy sector. This acquisition further signifies SAIC's commitment to working at the forefront of technology innovation, as well as making a declaration to our customers that SAIC will continue to seek and acquire the highest quality technology solutions.”

Information Resource Group

SAIC Ltd. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and a long-term strategic provider to the oil industry. SAIC provides applications support, applications infrastructure care and maintenance, software development, systems integration and project management to clients worldwide from multiple locations within the UK. OED employed a total workforce of approximately 80 in Hemel Hempstead (UK) and Nanterre, in the Paris suburbs. All staff will transfer to SAIC Ltd. and will become part of the Information Resource Group.