January 2010


Seismic to simulation 2.0

Three second-tier upstream vendors, CMG, JOA, and SMT, team on end-to-end interpretation workflow. Deal ties Kingdom geoscience platform, JewelSuite geomodeler and IMEX simulator.

Seismic Micro Technology (SMT), JOA/JewelSuite and Computer Modelling Group (CMG) have announced the ‘Seismic To Simulation’ (STS) Alliance. Since the JOA/SMT hook up announced last year (OITJ June 2009) Kingdom’s GeoModeling tool has JewelSuite’s 3D gridder under the hood. CMG VP Jim Erdle told Oil IT Journal, ‘The IMEX black oil reservoir simulator is now integrated with JewelSuite via a plug-in written by JOA. JewelSuite IMEX users work entirely within the JewelSuite GUI. Data integration is transparent. This provides a seamless, integrated workflow from interpretation to geocellular modeling to simulation pre and post processing.’

Dan Dexter, VP Canada and marketing with CMG added, ‘The alliance unites three industry leaders, each with a reputation for scientific excellence in a critical aspect of the prospect evaluation workflow. Geophysicists, geologists and engineers can now collaborate using the top technology for their respective disciplines.’

‘Top technologies’ highlighted by the alliance partners include SMT’s patent-pending Kingdom ‘Illuminator’ technology. Illuminator underpins Kingdom Suite’s ‘Seeker’ seismic auto-tracking technology, allowing for event detection on noisy data and picking of near-vertical events.

JewelSuite’s high-end ‘faulted S-grid’ modeling adds fault-following non-pillar gridding technology to the Alliance mix. S-Grid is claimed to offer better complex structure mapping than pillar gridders such as Petrel.

CMG’s numerical simulators for reservoir management cover conventional and heavy oil reservoirs. CMG has been active in Canada’s tar sand development with its STARS steam assisted gravity drainage simulator. The company also developed GEM, a CO2 injection/EOR simulator that was used on the EU-funded CO2STORE Sleipner pilot.

Jim Thom, Director of Strategy and Partnering, JOA Oil and Gas, concluded ‘The traditional single vendor offering frequently meant sacrificing a certain degree of functionality in component functionality to gain overall compatibility across the workflow. Customers could compensate for this by adding niche software to fill in the gaps, but without integration, there is significant productivity loss moving data across solutions. The STS Alliance removes the need for customers to make these sacrifices by bringing together the technology leaders in exploration, evaluation and production phases of field development.’

While both SMT and JOA are resolutely Windows-only platform developers, CMG’s compute-intensive applications have been optimized for parallel processing on Windows, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and IBM-AIX. More from www.stsalliance.com.


Oracle bags Silver Creek

DataLens ‘semantic’ technology now mainstream to Oracle’s data quality effort. Likely targets in upstream supply chain before wider E&P data involvement.

Oracle seems to have enjoyed its OEM partnership with Silver Creek (SC) announced last year (OITJ May 2009) and has now decided to acquire the company. Oracle’s data quality cleansing and matching server is based on SC’s DataLens technology. DataLens uses ‘patent-pending semantics*’ to enhance product data from multiple sources.

The DataLens patent application is an 18,000 word filibuster about a ‘semantic conversion system’ leveraging a ‘self-learning tool’ that translates legacy systems’ data to a ‘fully attributed and normalized data set.’ A statistical engine analyzes ‘candidate’ terms for a most likely match. Despite the ‘semantic’ moniker and the release’s reference to ‘standards,’ the patent application has no references to W3C semantic technologies.

Oracle plans to use the toolset to ‘improve data quality, consistency and usability across enterprise applications through enterprise-wide enforcement of centralized data quality and business rules.’ Oracle spokesperson Carol Sato told Oil IT Journal, ‘SC’s product data quality is applicable to oil and gas data and will compliment our MDM offering. SC offers cleansing of well data headers along with drilling, logging and production data.’ SC will also likely impact the oil and gas supply chain. More from oilit.com/links/1001_4.

* oilit.com/links/1001_3.


Microsoft Office—a productivity tool?

Oil IT Journal Editor Neil McNaughton struggles with Microsoft’s ‘Fluent User Interface’ a.k.a. the Office Ribbon. Moving from different versions of Windows is less of a deal for the end user than an ‘improved’ Office GUI. Early tests of Open Office suggest a route around the productivity black hole.

Some housekeeping notes to start with. You will probably have noticed that as our coverage grows, we have been grouping articles together in ‘buckets’ such as ‘Software Hardware Short Takes,’ ‘Standards Stuff’ and so on. This month has seen a slug of articles dealing with wireless communications—to the rigsite and within the facility. Likewise, we are receiving a lot of traffic concerning Carbon and environmental monitoring issues. So we have two new, likely occasional, features, ‘Wireless World’ and ‘Going, Going… Green.’ Next month we will be adding a similar ‘e-commerce’ bucket—but I’ve not thought up a cool name for this as yet. Your contributions and opinions on the expanding coverage welcome to info@oilit.com.

Next a few words on the topic of ‘productivity.’ Writing a newsletter to a monthly deadline means that we are particularly sensitive to this. While we pride ourselves in the fact that we do get out and about—reporting from a dozen or more tradeshows throughout the year, there comes that time every month when producing the newsletter boils down to hand-to-hand combat between man (me) and machine (PC). As Oil IT Journal is ‘now in it’s 15th year,’ I feel qualified to contribute an anecdote or two on the ‘productivity’ topic.

Our legacy desktop publishing tools are Microsoft Word and Publisher—both components of Microsoft Office, which is often referred to as a ‘productivity suite.’ Back in my July 1999 editorial I waxed lyrical about Publisher, describing it as ‘a fabulous program,’ although I did note that ‘it crashed about 20 times today’ and called on Microsoft to ‘sweat the small stuff’ and fix the bugs. Back then I could equally have cited Word’s mail merge functionality as a company-making productivity enabler. But how ‘productive’ is Office today?

Well it has to be said that since 1999 there are for sure a lot less crashes. Over the last couple of years I have acquired both a new desktop and a new laptop. The first runs Windows XP, the second Vista (sorry can’t report on 7 as yet). The desktop came loaded with the 2007 flavor of Office (sorry again, we can’t report on Office 2010 either!). Office 2007 saw the introduction of the ‘ribbon’ a.k.a. the ‘Fluent User Interface,’ an ‘ugrade’ to the more traditional menu interface. To the novice user, the ribbon just seemed like a pointless exercise in moving the furniture around. After a few months of increasingly intensive use of Office 2007 I consider myself no longer a novice. But I still hate the ribbon! In particular, the changes to style management and heading numbering (always a Word weakness) had become just totally obscure. We use a title and subtitle numbering system to identify each item we report on in our Technology Watch report service so that individual information items have a unique reference.

Meanwhile on the Vista laptop which I really only use for note taking while on the road I was not prepared to shell out nearly as much as the machine cost for another Office license. So I installed Open Office which seemed to do the job and let me do some experimenting with styles and numbering in the open source alternative. I discovered that the styles interface and management, while not exactly a breeze, was easier and more logical than Microsoft’s efforts.

This led me to install Linux and Open Office on the desktop too. I did this with a dual boot, no fancy Parallels or VMware. As a past fan of Jerry Pournell’s Chaos Manor in column in the defunct Byte Magazine I feel obligated to report the following hardware trivia. Under XP, my new machine’s sound card never worked. Googling around I found various words of wisdom as to possible fixes—all of which proved complete time wasters. I just got used to a silent PC. But on installing Ubuntu Linux, I was greeted with a booming fanfare through my speakers. A pleasant surprise. Does Linux plug and play better than Windows now?

Word 2007 seems to have exaggerated an aspect of usage in that the Office tools have a seductively short learning curve for the simple stuff. But when you want to do something at the ‘enterprise’ level, you are faced with a klutzy, poorly thought-out interface. I don’t doubt that ‘anything’ is possible. But productive it isn’t if a) it is hard to find and implement when you have found it and b) it is unstable once you have done it.

Perhaps I should explain why styles and numbering and ‘enterprise’ use of Word is important. These tools are potentially the real productivity drivers for the knowledge worker. Using styles to organize and format a document should speed production and aid retrieval. If you want to see how much futzing is involved in your average jock’s attempt to produce a clean document, download some random Word documents from the web and check them out with visible formatting enabled (there are some pretty good examples on microsoft.com!) These frequently include multiple lines of repeated whitespace, tabs and other signs of a mis-spent youth. This is irritating in itself. But if you are paying people to line stuff up by inserting whitespace and tabs it is doubly so. Word just does not encourage you to do things the right way. The tools are there. But they are the obscure and poorly implemented stuff we mentioned above. Productive is not Word.

Which brought me back to Open Office—running in odt mode rather than docx—no more instability and lost data (yea—two days work). Understandable formatting that is reasonably consistent. Free pdf conversion that seems to work. We produced our Technology Watch report from the 2009 SEG—a 5MB PDF replete with illustrations with no problems. Open Office is looking quite promising.

What struck me most about these different comparisons is the fact that the whole world gets exercised about what are, in the greater scheme of things, relatively minor differences between XP, Vista and perhaps 7. This reflects the extent to which the upgrade debate has been hijacked by ‘IT’ at the expense of the end user. The real stumbling block, something that might throw your whole organization into a productivity black hole, is the move from Office 2003 to 2007 and, who knows, to Office 2010.


SMi/TNO Production Monitoring Master Class

Production monitoring is a pre-requisite to i-Field applications—and requires a significant planning effort for ‘sustainability.’ Production monitoring and optimization is not your average IT project!

Anton Leemhuis introduced the SMi/TNO Real Time Production Monitoring master class held last month in London asking ‘why monitor? While the goal of production optimization (PO) is fairly clear, the reality is that take-up and sustainability has been limited. Frequently, the immediate need is for better monitoring—‘you can only control what is monitored, and you can only optimize what is controlled.’ One significant goal is to reduce engineers’ dependency on spreadsheets and better information flows can enable predictive maintenance and reduced downtime. There is no framework or cookbook for production monitoring which needs to be implemented on a case by case basis.

TNO’s Ruud van der Linden took over to explain the basic concepts of monitoring. If you know the complete state of a system at a point in time, you can compute its future behavior from inputs without a knowledge of its past. But in reality, a system’s state is only partially observable and therefore only partially known. The essence of monitoring is to use past measurement to reconstruct the state of a partially observable system. This is why you need high frequency monitoring for control. The downside of high frequency is that it leads to a data ‘tsunami.’ Even so, TNO warns, ‘don’t compress data, don’t throw away information.’ RT means different things to different communities. The trick is to keep all user communities happy with a common data set.

The move from offline to RT involves upheaval. Data reconciliation is required to leverage models such as OLGA, HySys and Petex. Models can also be built from data using correlation, neural nets, etc. TNO analyzes the model landscape in terms of their knowledge of underlying physical process and the data volumes involved. The resulting white/grey/black box models each have particular areas of application. Oil and gas models typically fall in the ‘grey box’ area with low data input and medium knowledge of physical processes due to uncertainties at the reservoir. But the trend is ‘up’ with bigger models and more measurement.

TNO advocates using in-house models that capture process knowledge and minimize vendor lock-in. These leverage components such as HySys and OLGA and the ubiquitous PI System. The masterclass went on to look at implementation noting that ‘monitoring is not a regular IT project.’ But it is definitely gaining traction. At the 2009 Intelligent Operations conference in Trondheim, BP showed how they use models everywhere.

Model management and maintenance is itself an under-appreciated discipline. Models may be built for front-end engineering design (FEED) and then abandoned. But in the last decade or so, FEED models are seeing take-up in the plant. Model based optimization is already accepted in the downstream. More from tno.nl and links/1001_10.


Landmark’s Earth Modeling solution at Houston user Group

New tool adds Geovariances’ geostatistics, lithotype/sedimentary environment library.

Halliburton used its January Houston Area Landmark Users Group (HALUG) meeting to unveil its new Earth Modeling solution. Charles Murphy described how a coherent model is built by integrating geoscience and engineering data in the new DecisionSpace component. Earth Modeling provides technology and workflows to build deterministic or probabilistic models at reservoir and basin scale.

The main differentiators claimed for Earth Modeling include interoperability with OpenWorks, knowledge transfer through Project Designer and easy output of a simulator-ready grid. Geovariances’ embedded geostatistics engine displays linked crossplot data including dynamic variogram modeling. Facies can be assigned from a large library of depositional environment templates and lithologies—which were well received by attendees. Landmark has dubbed these additions ‘high science simplified.’

The templates codify rules for juxtaposition of lithotypes. Proportion curves can be created by subdividing the area of the model or by grouping wells by depositional type across an interval. Lithotype curves can be copied and distributed to guide further facies modeling. The output is a simulator-ready model with fault walls that capture transmissibility.

A 3-D seismic volume can be brought in as a backdrop and geophysical attributes can be used for co-located co-kriging, but this option is not yet available to guide facies distribution. Cutoffs for parameters can be set based on multiple realizations of the final model. The release shown is available only through the Landmark partner program and is being tested by as many as six companies on R5000 version 3. Earth Modeling is due for release mid-2010. More from links/1001_01.


An end to Excel ‘hell’?

Microsoft suggests that revision controls in SharePoint Excel Services will fix auditability issues.

A recent post on Microsoft’s oil and gas blog suggests how new features in Excel can be leveraged to address the problems of proliferating spreadsheets and non-authoritative data—commonly referred to as ‘Excel hell.’ The spreadsheet’s ease of use makes it ‘a powerful tool for developing technical applications and for managing and analyzing huge data volumes.’ While users ‘love’ Excel, corporate management and auditors have had ‘a few issues with it,’ notably accountability and auditing. An individual’s Excel spreadsheet is not the appropriate place to keep reserve estimates or production profiles. Enter SharePoint Excel Services. These provide revision controls to manage spreadsheet changes ‘in a controlled, auditable manner.’ An ‘official’ version of the spreadsheet is hosted in SharePoint and can be used across the enterprise. Another addition to Microsoft’s engineering flagship is Excel 2010’s ‘PowerPivot’ that extends Excel’s computational power with new analytical capabilities and access to large data sets ‘from virtually any source.’ SharePoint 2010 offers a Web-based central administration interface that offers improved productivity and greater control with more flexible deployments. More from microsoft.com/oilandgas.


Expro Group’s broadband downhole cableless telemetry system for Ormen Lang

Norske Shell deploys duplex downhole radio system for ‘smart well’ applications.

Norske Shell has successfully deployed Expro Group’s Cableless Telemetry System (CaTS) on its Ormen Lange gas field in the Norwegian Sea. The new large-bore CaTS is used in Ormen Lange Phase II wells to provide duplex (two-way) communications between the surface and downhole devices.

CaTS uses low frequency radio that benefits from the waveguide properties of a well’s tubing or casing. CaTS transmits high-fidelity pressure and temperature information from downhole sensors. A ‘flexible’ interface opens the way for alternative sensor types in the future.

The ability to transmit commands to downhole devices is an essential component of the ‘smart well.’ Expro has several high-end use cases on its website, including sophisticated wireless flow control from multi-bore completions and downhole valves.

CaTS were installed in Ormen Lange wells A5 and B7 and successfully commissioned in October 2009. A further four systems are planned for installation during 2010/11. Expro’s wireless well guru Steve Hudson said, ‘Delivering the duplex communications capability from reservoir to beach has been the most challenging engineering project that we have performed to date.’ More from exprogroup.com.


Data Vera master data management and R5000 migration

New matching algorithms, rules and PPDM reference tables. R5000 templates under development.

The latest release (8.18) of Petris’ DataVera upstream data quality solution introduces ‘MasterSet,’ an E&P master data management (MDM) module. MasterSet was developed with clients’ input to provide ‘enterprise class’ data governance. MDM rules help users consolidate quality metrics across multiple data stores. The release adds new matching algorithms, E&P specific rules and 700+ PPDM 3.8-based reference tables for corporate naming conventions. The package adds row-based units of measure look up and conversion on the fly. Integration with ESRI’s ArcGIS Engine now supports geospatial data transformation. French and Italian localization has been added.

Petris is now working with clients on migrating their data sets to Landmark’s OpenWorks R5000 release. DataVera HealthCheck’s data quality profiling now offers ‘pre-R5000’ data checking. This includes standardizing picks and horizons across projects and consolidation of OpenWorks projects into a Master project. Petris is building templates to help accelerate data preparation and post conversion cleanup. More from petris.com.


CA Clarity supports Saipem’s drilling effort

Computer Associates project and portfolio management toolset manages engineering mega projects.

Italian oil and gas engineering contractor Saipem is deploying Computer Associates’ (CA) ‘Clarity’ Project and Portfolio Management solution across its offshore, onshore and drilling global business units in 35 countries. Clarity PPM provides Saipem with a global view of projects and manages its 38,000-strong workforce across the project life cycle.

Clarity PPM is used to roll-up project components into hourly key performance indicators that track project progress.

Saipem began using Clarity in 2008. Today, the toolset has become a strategic project management application for turnkey engineering, procurement, installation and construction tasks for complex plants and associated infrastructure from design through to startup.

Alessandro Tintori, Information and Communication Technologies Project Manager with Saipem said, ‘It is vital that we match business requirements with adequate resources. Clarity gives us greater operational flexibility and the ability to react faster to changes in the market. It also allows us to perform long-term planning to meet our business goals.’

Clarity currently manages over 700 projects of varying sizes, including major operations lasting 24-36 months. Clarity connects with multiple software applications inside Saipem, including Oracle’s PeopleSoft, SAP R/3 and a data warehouse. More from ca.com.


FirmSoft rolls out SenEx history match helper app

Sponsors sought for further development of ‘analytical’ sensitivity explorer.

A new ‘rapid history matching’ tool was unveiled this month in Calgary at a Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada–hosted meeting. With backing from Cenovus and Fekete Associates, FirmSoft Technologies presented SenEx-1, its new solution for rapid history matching of reservoir fluid flow models and production data.

SenEx (for sensitivity explorer) uses an undisclosed ‘analytical approach’ to extract parameter sensitivities from a single simulation run. SenEx claims a rapid, high quality, well-by-well match and grid-block level parameter extraction. SenEx has been successfully applied on nine real-world projects, some with hundreds of thousands of active grid blocks, over 100 wells and decades of production history.

FirmSoft is now seeking sponsors for ‘SenEx-2,’ a JIP that seeks to add extensions for advanced simulation options such as DPDP, coal-bed methane, parallel/GPU computing and neural networks for history match automation. Early adopters of FirmSoft’s tools include EnCana, Barrick and engineers Feteke and Sproule. More from firmsofttech.com.


Software, hardware short takes

Aveva, Badley, Pegasus, ffA, Safe, PSE, KSS, Meridium, RedTree, Peoples, Ryder Scott, more...

Aveva and Z+F are teaming to integrate Z+F’s 3D laser scanning technology with Aveva’s ‘intelligent’ PDMS 3D models. The joint venture is to offer high definition, photo-realistic laser images, hot-linked to plant data and accessible over the web via Aveva NET. More from aveva.com.

Badley Geoscience is adding a direct link to the Schlumberger’s Petrel to its TrapTester flagship and a new depth conversion tool. More from badleys.co.uk.

Pegasus Vertex has released ‘Dr. DE,’ a drilling engineering toolbox with 188 functions ranging from drilling engineering fundamentals to advanced well path design and 3D wellbore. More from pvicom.com.

Foster Findlay Associates has announced the availability of Matlab convertors to read and write .ffa formatted volume data for use with SVI Pro/SEA 3D Pro. These are available from the Matlab Central File. More from ffa.co.uk.

Safe Software’s FME 2010 offers enhanced support for KML (Google Earth and Maps), Adobe PDF and OpenGIS GML. 3D formats support Autodesk, Collada and Google Sketchup. Safe also highlights its web services API that lets programmers control FME Server with HTTP requests and responses. More from safe.com.

Process Systems Enterprise has announced an ‘exclusive’ agreement with Imperial College London to bundle the SAFT-VR thermodynamic engine with its gPROMS advanced process modeling software. SAFT uses physically-realistic models of molecules and their interactions to predict thermodynamic properties over a range of operating conditions. More from psenterprise.com.

KSS Inc. has rolled out RackPrice SaaS, a hosted version of its fuel price management software for wholesalers. RackPrice SaaS includes integration with OPIS, Platts and DTN price data sources. More from kssg.com.

Meridium has announced Meridium Hazards Analysis (MHA) for conducting hazards and operability studies and ‘what-if’ analyses. MHA integrates with mechanical integrity, safety integrity level assessments and asset criticality analyses. More from meridium.com.

RedTree Development and Virtual Materials Group have released ‘A little process helper’ (Alph), a process calculator for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Alph uses the same thermodynamic and physical properties calculation engine as VMG’s process simulator VMGSim. A free ‘Alph Jr.’ version is available with limited functionality. More from redtree.com/alph.

Peoples Gas, Florida’s largest natural gas distribution company, has a web site optimized for iPhones, Blackberries and other smartphones. The site provides customer service phone numbers, numbers for locating and marking underground gas lines, gas system safety information and a link to online bill payment. More from m.peoplesgas.com.

Ryder Scott has released V 5.0 of its Reservoir Solutions application, now compatible with Excel 2007. All 10 apps are available as a single download. More from ryderscott.com.

Siemens has announced a remote data manager, Sitrans RD500, integrating web access, alarm event handling and data capture for process instrumentation. Flow, level, pressure, temperature and other variables can be monitor from anywhere using a standard web browser by computer, PDA or smart phone. More from Siemens.com.

SmartSignal has released SmartSignal Shield, predictive-diagnostic software for users in the power and oil and gas verticals. Shield leverages a database of ‘hundreds of millions of machine hours and tens of thousands of failures’ to identify faults in the context of different operating conditions. More from smartsignal.com.


Dassault Systèmes—Virtual Reality for the wellsite

‘Virtools’ brings scenarios and avatars into the simulator for in-depth training and planning.

In a Fiatech webinar this month, Dassault Systèmes’ Rolf Gibbels argued the case for 3D virtual reality (VR) to plan operations and train operators of oil and gas facilities. Gibbels noted the high daily rates for offshore drilling and the poor HSE performance of the industry. Offshore has a fatality rates that is twice onshore construction and eight times that of all other workers. In the face of an aging workforce, unskilled workers and complex projects, there is a pressing need to do more with less. Gibbels also noted the high cost ($2,000/day) for conventional training—and the limited availability of ‘static’ hardware-based training simulators. Traditional training systems may be ‘sophisticated’ but by the time they are installed and the facility is built, the two may well be out of synch.

Challenges for owner-operators also extend to validating maintenance activities—much knowledge is in engineers’ heads and is not always captured. There are also critical issues with equipment installation—with clashes and design clearance problems. For workers, posture analysis is critical—along with accessibility. Planners need to be able to simulate equipment kinematics alongside operators’ safe working capability.

Enter Dassault’s Delmia environment* and its 3DVIA ‘Virtools’ VR scenario builder. Delmia imports 3D plant models from CAD design tools or Laser scans of a real-world facility. Operational schedules are integrated in a 3D model work breakdown structure (WBS) linking resource requirements and time. Virtools brings people, tools and tasks into the structural model. Activities can be replayed and validated enabling virtual maintenance planning and complex project scenario development. Workflows include step by step validation, tweaking with new scenarios and best practices. A master schedule is then updated with the optimized project—and the results reused for training and OSHA compliance.

A video showed an avatar performing an engineering task in a simulator of the ITER nuclear fusion testbed. Such presentations can be used to explain activities to partners and other stakeholders. Catalogues of worker (avatar) types and skill sets can be built and retained for reference. VP kinematics help plan equipment replacement, optimize crane operations and evaluate robot intervention. More from 3ds.com.

* links/1001_7.


API Oil and Gas IT Security Conference

Some 175 attended the 4th American Petroleum Institute’s Oil and Gas IT Security Conference in Houston to hear of ‘nightmare scenario’ planning, SCADA system security and the security aspects of social networking tools. Boardwalk Pipeline is moving to segregate SCADA and business systems.

Lt. General Harry Raduege’s (retired—now with Deloitte and Touche) keynote traced the history of cyber-security from the first hacker attacks in 1979 to the findings of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) Cybersecurity Commission. These include the necessity of securing Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems for industries like upstream oil and gas and refining. While the specifics of the report are classified, it is understood that recommendations include background checks on personnel working on pipeline SCADA systems. The theft of laptops from executives traveling overseas is now ‘a matter of national security.’ Raduege warned, ‘if your DBA is driving a Ferrari, check your network security’ and concluded that the prevalence of consortia and universities in the oil and gas industry, ‘makes the probability of data leaks even higher.’

Michael DuBois (Colonial Pipeline) described a hypothetical ‘nightmare scenario’ plan involving an attack and ransom demand on a major US Pipeline. Pipelines used to be secured through ‘isolation and obscurity.’ But today, adding Microsoft Active Directory to SCADA systems or even just running an operating system patch can open security holes. Industry needs the government to provide more specifics on threats. A study found that less than 1% of successful attacks resulting in actual data loss came from outside the organization, 19% were perpetrated by disgruntled employees and 80% were accidental. Funding of pipeline security remains a priority despite market downsizing. DuBois advocates vetting of personnel, partnerships with labs and ‘at least’ yearly simulations and drills. He closed by wondering if the best strategy was not to go back to isolation.

Brian Gore recounted Boardwalk Pipeline Partners’ participation in a 12-hour drill that included a ‘mind numbing constant attack.’ The specifics of the exercise are secret, but Gore revealed that one team was given a 30 minute head start to implement security by running Nmap, Wireshark, TCPDump, and OpenVAS to baseline the network traffic and then develop a list of firewall rules, ports to lock down and routes to change. The drill included corporate ‘resistance’ to the shutting-down of business systems and corporate ignorance of the danger level. As a result of the exercise, Boardwalk is now engaged in a plan to completely segregate its SCADA system from the business network, with the ability to deploy security and lock down the pipeline system and then open connections as needed. Gore now advocates monthly simulated attacks and redundant ways to communicate and operate. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of SCADA compared to business systems observing that ‘if a report doesn’t go out, no one is going to die, but are we OK with blowing up a town?’

Ivan Skeri of Baker Hughes made a business case for server virtualization. Advantages include cost and complexity reduction and ‘resource isolation’ that brings improved reliability and security, better services levels, automated server provisioning, better hardware and energy utilization. Storage, network and application virtualization plays a role in security, especially for containment and quarantine during attacks. Virtualization can help isolate the issue and limits impact by creating Internet access and network monitoring partitions. A ‘honeypot’ can be implemented to trap attempted attacks and for ‘self-testing’ exploits in a contained environment.

The CIO panel included Zhanna Golodryga, CIO of Global Petroleum at BHP Billiton, Jim Green (Chevron), Kevin Campbell (Hunt Oil), Mike Perroni (Halliburton) and Don Worley (Marathon downstream). Moderators were Dan Chisum (ConocoPhillips) and Paul Huttenhoff (Chevron). First question was ‘What are the CIO’s biggest challenges?’ For Marathon they were keeping the assets running and maintaining visibility of security issues up to Board level. Halliburton saw customer data security as a priority especially as most security issues relate to manual processes. Chevron emphasized that sustainable compliance procedures, not just reactions to events, were key as well as making every user aware of their security environment. A follow up question asked how CIOs could ‘educate’ the CEO? For BHP this meant explaining the balance of risk and trust against the ability to work. This meant, for Marathon, making regular security reports to the Board and presentations to C-Level managers—especially in regard of the take-up of social networking applications. This lead to a discussion on how companies are dealing with social networking. BHP is currently focused on mitigating the risk, but is also looking at the advantages. Hunt currently blocks Facebook and Twitter but is running a pilot program with college interns. Chevron is still asking where the value of social networking actually is! Halliburton blocks all social networking sites for productivity reasons.

On the topic of what security metrics are deployed, Hunt stated that it looks at security metrics the same way as it views insurance—balancing exposure and consequences. Halliburton has good metrics for the percentage of transactions that are blocked. On the topic of cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS), Chevron said it was bullish but still assessing the risks. BHP has concerns about providers’ liability is are looking at internal provision first. Marathon uses SaaS following a formal risk assessment.

For Fabio Ottolini (Schlumberger) the biggest challenges to security are external storage and multiple connectivity routes. Supporting different device models, features, network coverages and roaming charges can be problematical. The answer is user awareness of costs, expectations and policies, supported by documentation, quick guides, testing and change management. A standard operating system is desirable, but pressure from the C-Suite for the latest device can sometimes drive purchase decisions. The best bet is to involve local procurement specialists and set user expectations for support, since device management is never global or complete. Schlumberger uses data encryption, expiring PIN’s, remote wiping and self-destruct technologies. Other considerations are backups and certificates, with the knowledge that for attackers, mobile devices may be the path of least resistance.

Jim Heaton (Baker Hughes) noted that mobile devices mean ‘really rough’ gaps in security. Baker Hughes approaches the problem by addressing the human factor with onboarding and offboarding procedures, mandatory training and scorecards. They also employ external audits and a ‘poison pill’ that disables devices after days of without connectivity. Network security zoning is used for untethered PC protection and can shut down USB ports in the field. A mobile security ‘Market Based Reference Model’ is used to evaluate vendors. But it is recognized that application and session control may not be as mature as other capabilities. In preparation for next-generation technologies, Baker Hughes is evaluating Bluetooth security, geo-fencing for access based on location, and cloud backup technologies.

Sujeet Shenoi (University of Texas) has been working with Williams Pipeline Natural Gas, analyzing ModBus on TCP traffic. This demonstrated that 22 of 29 possible attacks are at ‘severe’ risk level. Using the DNP3 protocol for electrical systems, the number of possible attacks goes to 91, and the possibility of smart grid devices would make the curve exponential. Companies at risk can isolate, encrypt, authorize, and secure their SCADA services. Alternatively they can be proactive and use threat assessments and situational awareness for anomaly and intrusion detection, incident response and risk management. Some security threats can have massive costs, such as the ‘tromboning’ of call packets to lengthen telecommunications into higher rates. Future proactive measures must include multi-layer defense in depth strategies, leveraging historian data for forensics.

Jim Reavis of the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) acknowledged that cloud computing has been hyped. But some of the hype is justified as witnessed by the acceptance utility computing in oil and gas. Governance challenges include the possibility of the provider going out of business, failure to achieve SLAs, or poor business continuity planning. There are also questions of financial stability, data centers in countries with unfriendly laws, proprietary lock-ins with technology or data formats and the fact that mistakes made by the cloud provider’s internal IT security can be orders of magnitude more serious. It is analogous to the comparative risk and exposure of a car crash vs. a plane crash. Cloud computing threats include un-vetted ‘innovations,’ publicly-known cloud architectures and the fact that the load management itself can be used as an attack. Cloud computing also opens up new avenues for attacks such as poisoned AMI images. The Cloud Security Alliance was set up to facilitate the adoption of security standards and to provide pragmatic guidance in domains such as governing and operating in the cloud. Principles include secure location of data, the right to audit on demand and the need for retention policies to meet e-discovery standards. The cloud can open up vulnerabilities and there is a need to ‘compartmentalize’ during incident response. Data encryption keys should not be available to cloud providers. The concept of federation must be standardized—‘common sense is not optional.’ Conference proceedings on links/1001_9.


Control room displays—not just a pretty picture!

Bill Hollifield lambasts the ‘flashy graphics’ of modern HMIs as contributing to accidents.

Speaking at the API 2009 Control Room Forum in San Antonio late last year, PAS’ Bill Hollifield explained that the route to controller effectiveness was via optimum alarm management and ‘high performance’ human machine interaction (HMI). Hollifield, who wrote the book on HMI*, suggested that first, control room owner operators should fix the top 10 ‘bad actor’ alarms that make up 20-80% of entire alarm system load. Simple methods can be applied to rationalize bad alarms such as ‘chattering,’ ‘stale,’ ‘duplicate,’ and ‘Nuisance’ events. Alarm settings should be audited automatically to ensure they are not improperly changed and real-time, dynamic alarm management techniques used to reduce inappropriate activation. Poorly performing alarm systems and HMIs can be contributing factors to major accidents and poor operating performance. But the solutions to such problems are ‘well known and fully documented.’

On the topic of HMIs, Hollifield is categorical, today’s HMIs are poor! Control room graphical displays were introduced before any industry guidelines and best practices were established. Moreover, vendor HMI examples are some of the worst—concentrating on ‘flashy marketing graphics’ that sell a system! Hollifield showed a graphic of BP’s Texas City ISOM Unit HMI which he described as ‘essentially just a P&ID segment sprinkled with live valves,’ suggesting that this may have been a contributing factor in the explosion.

Displays should show information not data in a way that is relevant. Modern displays often show a paltry 5% of information with 95% of the screen occupied by a pretty picture. Analog displays can be powerful and schematics should show immediately where current information lies in the operating range. Color can confusion and needs thought. Other industries do it better—for instance aerospace where displays like the Garmin 1000 Avionics System provide a more rational gadget-free interface. Summing up, Hollifield noted that poor HMIs are commonplace and have been cited as contributing factors to both incidents and accidents. For a seven step guide to achieving a high performance HMI, read Hollifield’s book. More from links/1001_2a and links/1001_2b.

* The High Performance HMI Handbook.


Folks, facts, orgs ...

Altair, ARKeX, IDC, Aveva, CDA, Schlumberger, Fairfield, Paradigm, Fugro, Expro, Honeywell, Mustang, Global Hunter, McMoRan, OFS Portal, Palantir, Invensys, Geoservices, RigNet, more...

Altair Engineering has named Dhirendra Verma VP product design India. He joins Altair from Wipro Technologies.

ARKeX has appointed Dr Steve Curl to succeed Gary Jones as Non-Executive Chairman.

International Drilling Contractor has named Rob Saltiel president and CEO, replacing John Irwin. Saltiel hails from Transocean.

AVEVA Group has appointed Bill Muldoon Executive VP North America. Muldoon comes from Honeywell.

CDA’s DEAL website has just been re-launched following Schlumberger’s status as DEAL operator.

Fairfield Industries is changing its name to ‘FairfieldNodal’ to reflect its expertise in cable-free ‘nodal’ seismic technology.

Paradigm has announced the departure of CEO John Gibson.

H.C. Scheffer is to join Fugro’s board of directors. Scheffer was CEO of Imtech and is a member of Royal DSM’s board.

The US Department of Energy has launched openEI.org, an open-source, ‘linked data’-based website of energy data.

Expro Group has named Sergio Zubelli as Regional Director, Latin America. Prior to this, Sergio served as Brazil country manager for PowerWell Services, acquired by Expro in 2006.

Kevin Burke, 59, chairman, president, and CEO of Consolidated Edison, has been elected to Honeywell’s Board of Directors.

Mustang has announced the retirement of Don Colchin from its Automation and Control unit. He is succeeded by Richard Seale. Mike Dear has been appointed CFO.

Global Hunter Securities has hired Senior Analyst Bo McKenzie and Associate Analyst David Wishnow. GHS recently initiated coverage of eight oil services and equipment companies.

New Orleans-based McMoRan Exploration has connected to the OFS Portal community.

Palantir Solutions has recruited Steven King and Nickolai Pazin to its Houston office, and Purtini Joshi in Singapore. Joshi was previously with Satyam Computer Services.

Invensys Operations Management has opened a new facility in Algiers for North and French-speaking Africa, headed by Mohamed Hales, general director for Algeria.

Geoservices has appointed Jean-Paul Le Cann as Group Marketing Director.

Sir John Chisholm, Chairman of QinetiQ Group, will be retiring from the Board in February 2010 and be replaced by Mark Elliott.

RigNet has announced a number of appointments: Barise Hatfield as director, global HR, Kenneth (Ken) Bryson as manager HSE, Joe Conboy as VP Global Sales, and Molly McGuirk as director product management.

Mahindra Satyam (previously Satyam Computer Services) is locating its Global Solution Centre in Malaysia’s Cyberjaya ICT corridor.

Sandy Esslemont has been appointed President and CEO of SensorTran. He was previously president of Expro International.

Inge Gabrielsen is now acting Executive VP of TTS Group’s Energy division and President of TTS Sense. Arild Apelthun, formerly with Aker Process, has been appointed Group CFO.

Steve Kelly has joined Sensornet as Business Development Manager Industrial Monitoring Systems. Kelly hails from Aerospace & Aviation.

SGI has appointed Vincent Scarpulla as VP sales, Americas. Scarpulla was previously VP operations with Verari Systems.

Eric Spiegel has been appointed CEO of Siemens US unit. Speiegl hails from Booz & Co. Swen Rehders (previously with EDS) is now responsible for worldwide outsourcing sales with Siemens IT Solutions and Services.

Venture Information Management has appointed Chris Calodoucas as Business Development Manager. Chris joins Venture from Landmark.

Melanie Zamora is now MD of Variance Reduction International. Zamora was previously with LyondellBasell.

Corrections

Contrary to our report last month, Open Geophysical’s OpenCPS is not open-source based. OpenCPS is ‘a commercial processing system with a focus on interactive processing, visualization, and data analysis tools.’ More from opengeophysical.com.


Done Deals

Paradigm, Fox Paine, Al Shaheen, GE, Triple Point, Visiant, Proserv, Blueback Reservoir, Rocksource ...

Cayman Islands-registered Paradigm received a $65 million investment from affiliates of private equity firm Fox Paine & Co. The cash will be used to accelerate the commercialization and rollout recent ‘game changing’ R&D breakthroughs.

Qatar Petroleum unit Al Shaheen is to acquire 50% of GE’s PII Pipeline Solutions business. GE Oil & Gas maintains operational control. GE Oil and Gas and Al Shaheen are also establishing a dedicated pipeline integrity and inspection center in Qatar to support pipeline solutions in the Middle East.

Triple Point Technology (TPT) has acquired Enerbility Software GmbH, extending its Commodity XL trading software’s reach in the European market. All employees of Enerbility, including the founders, have joined Triple Point. TPT has also bought Softmar, adding vessel chartering, operations and freight rate risk management to its solution set.

Visiant Pimsoft has acquired OSIsoft’s Sigmafine production accounting and data reconciliation product and business. Visiant is to continue to develop Sigmafine as an extension of the OSIsoft PI System, integrating it with its SOA-based ERP integration framework.

Proserv Offshore has expanded its offshore well engineering with the acquisition of Twin Hills Wireline Services.

Blueback Reservoir has acquired Bridge Software. Bridge’s EM Data Integrator supports data from EMGS, WesternGeco, OHM and Petromarker. Blueback also recently opened an office in Houston offering software sales, support and consulting services.

Bergen based oil company Rocksource Geotech has invested in TechnoImaging of Salt Lake City, a developer of advanced 3D algorithms for modelling, inversion and migration of CSEM data. The companies are to start a joint R&D program.


Wireless World

New wireless connectivity from Computer Sciences Corp, ERF Wireless, Emerson and Proximetry.

ERF Wireless is starting to deploy mobile broadband trailers (MBT) as part of its strategy to provide broadband wireless broadband access to oil and gas drilling operations throughout North America. ERF is taking delivery of the MBTs as part of a $4.7 million order placed late last year. ERF CEO Dean Cubley said, ‘The initial shipments of approximately 30 MBTs to staging locations has expanded coverage throughout Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

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BP has deployed Emerson’s Smart Wireless technology at its Exploration unit’s Dalmeny, UK onshore terminal. Dalmeny stores up to four million barrels Forties oil field. Eight storage tanks are used to regulate flow between production wells, tankers and a pipeline to refinery. BP was concerned about possible temperature variation across these large (40m diameter tanks.) BP built on its experience with Emerson’s wireless technology monitoring wellhead annular pressure at its Wytch oilfield. Rosemount wireless temperature transmitters were installed at various locations in the tanks and on the main inlet feed. A wireless gateway on the control room fed into BP’s SCADA network. The test showed that there were no significant temperature gradients within the tank. The whole test was completed in under a day including configuring the serial link to the SCADA system. Emerson’s AMS Suite predictive maintenance software is used to manage the wireless network which is now a permanent component of BP’s monitoring.

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Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) has teamed with San Diego, CA-based Proximetry to offer a new ‘intelligent’ wireless services platform for the transportation and energy verticals. According to the release, aircraft, trains and buses are now ‘mobile network end-points’ and increasingly require bi-directional communication. Proximetry’s ‘AirSync’ provides a bridge between mobile end-points and the enterprise. Mary Jo Morris, president of CSC’s Technology and Consumer Group said, ‘This new service means that data and content can be distributed and collected in real time—streamlining existing processes, eliminating manual tasks, and enabling the creation of new revenue generating services.’ AirSync extends the enterprise wireless footprint to offer secure provisioning of real-time mission critical data, ‘anytime, anywhere’ across multiple wireless protocols and networks. Proximetry CEO Tracy Trent added, ‘CSC serves many of the world’s leading transportation and energy companies, and we look forward to enabling a new era of managed wireless services and solutions through this alliance.’ More from csc.com and proximetry.com.


BP signs new IT/comms service providers

CompuCom, Computacenter and T-Systems to consolidate major’s global telecoms and networks.

Following the shake-up of its global application development and application maintenance (ADAM, Oil ITJ September 2009), BP has moved to consolidate hardware and software procurement and ‘transform’ its global telecommunications and networking.

The IT deal was awarded to a partnership of Dallas-headquartered CompuCom Systems and UK-based Computacenter. The partnership has established a global, five-year, reseller program for BP. BP CIO Dana Deasy explained, ‘By consolidating and simplifying our IT supply chain, we will reduce our IT supplier base by at least 540 vendors, and significantly remove cost while driving complexity from our operations.’ The deal sets out to achieve consistent procurement and simplify IT product purchase for BP’s affiliates.

Computacenter CEO Mike Norris commented, ’This will enable BP to aggregate its spend with vendors leading to volume discounts; standardize its product portfolio and simplify the way IT buying is performed.’ The service starts on 1st February 2010 and will support BP’s 90,000 employees.

CompuCom’s Integrated Infrastructure Management v3 Solution* (IIMv3) is an outsourcing solution that addresses issues such as ‘declining end user and business line satisfaction,’ ‘alignment of IT services to business requirements’ and reduced IT budgets. The solution integrates technological innovations, ‘alternative’ delivery models and a ‘next generation’ service management platform.

In a separate deal, BP has awarded a global communications contract to Deutsche Telekom’s T-Systems business solutions unit. The five-year contract is to ‘transform’ BP’s global telecoms services network, enabling it for next generation voice and data services. The deal sees the introduction of a ‘multi-sourcing’ service model and a significant reduction in the number of suppliers.

In a parallel agreement, Siemens Enterprise Communications (SEN Group) is to provide global managed service to support BP’s voice requirements, including managed telephone and audio visual services. Deasy added, ‘T-Systems and Siemens expertise, new perspective and energy will give BP a significant opportunity to reduce complexity and lower our overall cost base.’ More from siemens-enterprise.com, t-systemsus.com, compucom.com and computacenter.com.

* links/1001_11.


Sales, contracts, partnerships and deployments

PGS, Down Under Geosolutions, SKF, Exprodat, Paradigm, CPC, Geospatial Holdings, ESRI, Absoft, Aker Solutions, CygNet, EnGlobal, GRSA, Invensys, Meridium, PIA, CSC, Petrolink, TriplePoint.

PGS has entered into an agreement with Down Under GeoSolutions to offer DUG’s Bayesian statistical quantitative interpretation (QI) technology as a component of its integrated reservoir services.

Total E&P UK has awarded SKF a five year condition based maintenance contract. The deal includes vibration data and lube oil analysis and other specialist investigations of rotating equipment on Total’s North Sea onshore and offshore assets.

BG has added Exprodat’s Team-GIS Segment Analyst common risk segment mapping package to the Group’s Geology Toolkit of approved applications.

Paradigm reports that Newfield Exploration has selected Geolog as its chief application for well log and petrophysical analysis. Paradigm also reports a multi-year global agreement with CPC Corporation, Taiwan for access to the Paradigm seismic interpretation suite.

Geospatial Holdings has completed several pipeline mapping projects on behalf of Sunoco Logistics Partners, validating Geospatial’s Smart Probe 3D mapping process for trenchless installation and rehabilitation of crude oil and refined products pipelines—including one 1,200-foot horizontal directional drilling bore performed by Sunoco for a 12.75” crude oil pipeline in Tyler, Texas.

Total E&P has signed a three-year enterprise license agreement with ESRI for the provision of geographic information system (GIS) technology procurement and administration. The deal gives Total’s global staff access to ArcGIS software, maintenance and support.

Aberdeen-based SAP software consultancy Absoft reports extended international reach for 2009 with nine new customers and £900,000 extra revenue for its dedicated oil and gas team. A deal with Downhole Products’ parent company Varel sees Absoft providing SAP support in Australia, Mexico, Canada, France, US and the UK.

Shell has awarded Aker Solutions an engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) contract for a produced water re-injection system on its Norwegian Sea Draugen field. Contract value is approximately NOK 200 million. Aker has won a NOK 450 million EPCI contract from BP Norge for a tie-back from Oselvar to the Ula platform. The EPCI deal is a call-off from an ongoing modifications and maintenance support contract.

Petrobras has awarded a front end engineering design (FEED) study of an Onboard Natural Gas Liquefaction Unit (ONGU) to SBM Offshore and Chiyoda, on behalf of a joint venture comprising Petrobras, BG, Repsol and Galp Energia. The ONGU is investigating a new means of handling associated gas from a series of planned FPSOs for the new pre-salt deepwater discoveries in Brazil’s Santos Basin. The contract is worth $40 million.

CygNet Software reports a record year for its enterprise SCADA platform and now claims over 100 enterprise customers, including ‘half of the top 20 North American gas producers and several of the leading pipeline companies.’ Cygnet further claims deployment on ‘more than 9,000 oil and gas industry desktops.’

ENGlobal has teamed with GRSA Consultants and Engineers ‘to advance project delivery capabilities in the chemical, petrochemical, and refinery industries.’

Invensys Operations Management and RWD have announced a training alliance for operator training simulators in hydrocarbon processing.

Meridium has teamed with Plant Integrity Assurance Group to provide Asia-Pacific customers with a range of Meridium APM tools and services through a ‘revolutionary’ data-hosting service.

Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) has delivered an integrated, web-based system to process equipment designer NATCO to facilitate information capture and dissemination. The new system also enables NATCO to shorten monthly accounting close cycles and improve financial forecasts. NATCO was recently acquired by Cameron.

Petrolink reports the award of a ‘Real-Time Services contract’ for Pemex’ South Region unit.

Suncor Energy has selected Triple Point Technology’s Commodity XL and other tools to support growth in its oil and gas production and marketing activities.


Standards Stuff

UN/CEFACT, CEN, OpenGeospatial, iEMSs, Field Device Intergration, FIATECH.

The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) has released V3.0 of its Core Components technical specifications (CCTS). CCs are standardized building blocks for databases, models and data exchange. CCTS v3.0 claims to address cross-industry interoperability. More from unece.org.

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The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has launched an eProcurement framework, a.k.a. Business Interoperability Interface, connecting public and private entities in the EU. The EU’s ‘Manchester Declaration’ states that by 2010 all public institutions must have the capability to carry out 100 % of their procurement electronically. More from links/1001_13.

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The Open Geospatial Consortium and the International Environmental Modeling and Software Society (iEMSs) have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on environmental modeling standards and software tools. More from opengeospatial.org and iemss.org.

Invensys Operations Management has joined the Field Device Integration (FDI) project. FDI promises a ‘hardware-independent’ choice for manufacturers. Standard device definition files are provided by instrument vendors as plug-ins to the field device manager framework. More from links/1001_14.

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New FIATECH members for 2009 include ExxonMobil, Noumenon Consulting, Petronas and Queensland Energy.


BMC Software for Pemex Gas’ IT

ProactiveNet to supervise Pemex’ SAP environment for 6,000 end users.

Pemex’ Gas y Petroquímica Básica unit uses BMC Software’s ProactiveNet Performance Management to manage availability, performance and business impact of its SAP environment. Most recently Pemex Gas has extended its BMC portfolio to include Atrium Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and Event and Impact Management (BEIM).

Miguel Chio, IT general manager for Pemex Gas said, ‘We’ve seen a lot of improvements in IT efficiency and effectiveness. It’s been very good for our business.’ Pemex uses the software to manage and automate changes to its IT infrastructure of more than 300 servers and 6,000 end users.

BMC sees the CMDB as marking a transition to a ‘true’ business services management platform where IT and human resources are stored in a database, tracking and verifying that changes to the system have been authorized. Tracking changes is critical to Pemex Gas’ ability to comply with its own internal IT policies as well as government regulations. More from bmc.com.


SAP teams with Valero on core business process IT

Global enterprise agreement targets ‘scalable innovative’ IT for North America’s largest refiner.

SAP has signed a global enterprise agreement with Valero, North America’s largest oil refiner. The companies are to collaborate on the development of ‘a scalable, innovative and flexible IT landscape across Valero’s offices and 16 oil refineries throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.’

The agreement covers core business processes such as finance and supply chain management and includes software, maintenance and software developments. A component of the deal is a collaboration with SAP’s ‘sustainability’ team on an industry-specific solution.

Last November, SAP announced that Valero adopted its BusinessObjects governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) solution. Valero SAP manager Bill Webber said, ‘The driver for compliance started with Sarbanes-Oxley. The application has allowed us to validate our system and reduce our total cost of compliance. It has also helped identify risks.’ More from sap.com.


ExperTune’s Buckbee on root cause of process upsets

PlantTriage’s Fourier analysis identifies process problems that go undetected for years.

A new whitepaper by ExperTune’s George Buckbee suggests that causes of many process problems go undetected for years. Buckbee advocates taking a closer look at upsets to identify their true root cause. But drilling down through the large dataset produced by a complex process can be extremely difficult. A single real problem can create multiple secondary effects in a plant. Trying to tune all the affected control loops is simply ‘chasing after symptoms, rather than getting to the heart of the issue.’

Buckbee divides upsets into two categories, cyclical and non-cyclical. Cyclical upsets or oscillations come from sticking control valves, poor controller tuning and other sources. The key to solving such issues is determining the period of oscillation. Process upsets that share a common cyclical root cause will be oscillating at the same period. Fourier analysis and ‘a little bit of logic’ determines whether the oscillation came from poor tuning, a faulty control valve, or some other cause. ExperTune’s PlantTriage control loop monitoring package provides such analysis and lets the investigator sort a list of observations by oscillation period to identify loops that share the same period. Next, look for the control loop that is furthest up-stream in the process—this is likely to be the root cause of the problem.

Non cyclical upsets are often associated with a process change such as start-up or shut-down of a unit operation. Buckbee suggests that a similar approach can be used—but with a longer correlation window. Again, PlantTriage provides the tools, identifying ‘interaction hot spots’ of the strongest interactions, shown on a ‘process interaction map.’ Buckbee notes that engineers report ‘a degree of surprise’ when finding that they have been working on symptoms, not the root cause, for many years. Solving a single problem can result in millions of dollars in annual revenue. More from expertune.com.


Going, going…. green!

Carbonetworks, Det Norske Veritas, Process Systems Enterprise, SAP, French Petroleum Institute.

Carbonetworks claims 8,000 worldwide sites for its eponymous performance management platform. Carbonetworks software tracks energy use and greenhouse gas emission. A Western Canadian operator has deployed Carbonetworks for compliance reporting and carbon disclosure from some 500 facilities. More from carbonetworks.com.

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Det Norske Veritas and gPROMS process model developer Process Systems Enterprise are teaming on R&D for on-ship carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to reduce maritime CO2 emissions. More from dnv.com.

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SAP has announced a new sustainability analytics package to help companies comply with environmental regulations and better protect their employees. SAP Best Practices for Sustainability includes HSE, product safety and environmental compliance components. Dashboards and reports help customers track status and trends and plan corrective actions. The package can be customized with BusinessObjects Explorer. More from sap.com.

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The French Petroleum Institute (IFP) has published a wall chart of worldwide CCS projects. More from links/1001_12.


Brainware Distiller for Kuwait Petroleum’s European unit

Invoice processing provides ‘exceptionally high’ invoice recognition in multi-language environment.

Kuwait Petroleum’s NW EU unit ‘Q8’ has selected Brainware’s ‘Distiller’ invoice processing solution for deployment at its fuel and service stations throughout Europe. Brainware automatically extracts and validates complex header and line-item data from invoices in six European languages—Czech Dutch, English, French, German and Polish. Distiller also integrates with Q8’s existing SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and will enable Q8 to access real-time key performance indicators pertaining to suppliers and related invoices.

Johan Innegraeve, Q8’s director of finance and IT said, ‘We were achieving low rates of extraction from our prior invoice processing solution, which required manual correction and significant resources spent managing templates. A proof of concept trial demonstrated that Distiller required far less reliance on our technical staff and provided exceptionally high extractions rates right out of the box—enabling truly automated invoice processing.’

Brainware CEO Carl Mergele added, ‘By virtually eliminating manual data entry, cash cannot escape the department via missed early payment discounts and late payment penalties.’ Q8’s network consists of more than 4,000 service stations in seven countries. Other Brainware users include Anadarko, Halliburton and Shell. More from brainware.com.


Matrikon delivers real-time digital oil field solution to Statoil

€4.2 million deal sees deployment of well performance, equipment condition monitoring.

Statoil has selected Matrikon’s real-time visualization solution for well and production facilities on the Norwegian continental shelf. Project value is estimated at €4.2 million. The real-time visualization solution is based on Matrikon’s Well Performance Monitor, Equipment Condition Monitor and Operator Logbook applications. Ian Brown, Matrikon’s EAME VP said, ‘This win demonstrates that our solution can take the digital oil field to the next level, integrating workflows across engineering, maintenance and management.’

Matrikon’s Well Performance Monitor now runs on Matrikon’s new ‘Intuition’ platform, leveraging an ‘ontology model’ to add context to streaming industrial data.

The project also includes Matrikon’s Equipment Condition Monitor condition-based monitoring and maintenance and associated workflows. The first phase includes a two site pilot and is expected to be completed in December 2010 with the possibility of international expansion following successful implementation in Norway. More from matrikon.com.


AI-based fleet management tailored to Canadian market

Project aims to increase BP’s continuous emissions monitoring system’s reliability.

BorgSolutions has customized its ‘Fleet’ management solution to the Canadian market. Borg provides a telematics-enabled Software as a Service platform for asset monitoring, maintenance and repair. Fleet leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize predictive maintenance, create work orders, manage inventory and ‘even suggest parts.’ Fleet tracks vehicles in real-time, monitoring availability, fuel usage, tire rotation and more.

Borg’s AI studies asset usage patterns and parts preferences to predict when service is required up to 90-days ahead of time. Parts that require attention are flagged as action items and work orders and inventory purchases are set in motion. With time, the system ‘learns’ from an particular asset’s usage patterns and fine tunes its forecasts. Tuning the system to the Canadian market has meant adding GPS-based asset tracking to Fleet, along with multi-lingual localization. Fleet also leverages Qualcom’s GlobalTRACS equipment tracking system.

Last year, Borg signed with GulfTrak Asset Management, for Fleet distribution in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. More from borgsolutions.com.


Arthur D. Little’s oil and gas portfolio management dashboard

Consultants advocate ‘holistic’ approach to replace ‘siloed’ asset management.

A new 12 page position paper from Arthur D. Little, (ADL) ‘Time for Change, Oil Company Asset Management’ highlights ‘structural changes’ in the industry that make the goals of reserves replacement and operational efficiency increasingly hard to achieve. For ADL, the problem is the ‘traditional’ asset management model that focuses on individual asset performance and short term results. ADL proposes a new ‘holistic’ asset management approach and ‘integrated decision making’ at each level of the asset hierarchy.

‘Traditional’ refers to the current combination of an asset-based organization and asset lifecycle management systems (ALMS). While successful in improving operational performance, the ALMS fails to provide adequate ‘cross asset line of sight and portfolio control.’ ADL proposes to build on the ALMS with an ‘asset network integration’ layer and enterprise-wide portfolio optimization.

The integration layer provides common services to assets such as supply chain management and piloting of new technologies. The top tier mashes up individual asset data, rolling in strategic considerations such as investment magnitude and risk profiles. The move from ‘siloed’ assets to portfolio-based management requires new tools—enter the ADL Performance Dashboard, a service offering that advises on KPI selection for field and portfolio analysis, capex budgeting and resource allocation. More from adl.com.