Volume 21 Number 9


World of Watson

Woodside struts its cognitive stuff at IBM's Las Vegas spectacular. Watson's Engagement Advisor and Explorer are changing how Woodside works. 'Willow,' an intelligent oilfield avatar unveiled.

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IoT action!

Internet of Things wheeling and dealing as AspenTech buys MTell in $37 million deal while GE adds Bit Stew to Predix data platform.

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In praise of Open Spirit

Neil McNaughton follows up last month's promise to investigate commerciality and openness with a potted history of interoperability initiatives. COM for Energy, Project Synergy, POSC Business Objects are long forgotten. But Open Spirit is still alive, almost 20 years on. How come?

Industry software developments fall along a spectrum of standards, consortia, in-house and outsourced and commercial vendors. There is and has always been a sort of yin and yang thing between the idea that software, especially that which is concerned with data access, should somehow be open and that a vendor tool with the best data access in the world is missing something if it does not have an ‘open’ API. Folks blow hot and cold about the different approaches.

Looking back through the first few years of Oil IT Journal (then Petroleum Data Manager) I was reminded how lively the interoperability debate was back in the day, from 1996 to the end of the millennium. The interop issue was lively and complex with many facets and contributions from the two major standards bodies, PPDM and POSC (now Energistics), the two major vendors Landmark and Schlumberger and the oil and gas majors, particularly Chevron and Shell. These majors have, over the years, divested themselves of bits and pieces of intellectual property, either to standards bodies or to consortia, in the hope that they might be ‘taken up.’

The year 1999 was something of a high-water mark for IT at large, with great expectations and investment before the dot com bubble finally burst. The upstream shared in the general enthusiasm and there were several ‘initiatives’ targeting interoperability between upstream data stores. COM for Energy, Project Synergy and the POSC Business Objects are history, albeit interesting history, but OpenSpirit is still standing. Let’s try and see why…

The OpenSpirit Alliance was announced at the December 1997 SEG conference. OSA built on Shell’s in-house Spirit II development, an application-independent software platform that promised ‘plug and play’ upstream application interoperability. Chevron was also a backer of the OSA, bringing its own ‘object integration server’ to the table. Chevron’s Clay Harter was a strong advocate of the technology and the possibility of a move from ‘bloated applications’ to a ‘more modular computing environment with slimmed-down apps talking to data stores through an OSA middleware layer.’ The Shell spin-out PrismTech was named development contractor for the project.

Throughout these early years, there was some overlap and confusion as to the respective interoperability initiatives. COM for Energy was eventually replaced by the vaporware of Microsoft’s ‘upstream reference architecture,’ now also off the radar. POSC’s business objects and Open Spirit evolved in parallel and were to a degree, in competition with each other. I say to a degree because in a 1999 interview with the Oil and Gas Journal, CEO Keith Steele described Open Spirit as ‘the first commercial implementation of the POSC business objects standard.’ A careful trawl through Oil IT Journal’s record of the events suggests that this might have been an over simplified categorization of the relationship between POSC and OSA. Whatever.

With the bursting of the dot com bubble and the general disenchantment of things IT, those holding the purse strings decided that two initiatives was one too many. Thus, in 2000, the OSA was incorporated as Open Spirit Corp. with Shell, Chevron and Schlumberger as stakeholders and Harter as CEO. Open Spirit V2.0, the first commercial release, shipped in the same year. The ‘standard business object’ ideal was downplayed in favor of a more pragmatic approach. Open Spirit was to devote its resources to adding interoperable functionality to the major vendors’ software platforms, rather than realizing the vision of a building a stand-alone componentized platform. In an interview with Oil IT Journal, Harter explained, ‘Standard is a bit misleading. OpenSpirit is rather an interoperability solution although we would love it to become the de-facto standard for upstream interoperability.’

The next chapter is the OS saga was writ in 2010 when the company was acquired by Tibco which, a couple of years earlier, had acquired Spotfire. Combining Spotfire’s analytics with data access was a smart move. Tibco has raised Spotfire’s profile in oil and gas into a strong position as our short summary of presentations made at the 2016 Spotfire Energy conference (page 5) shows. Spotfire, rather like Esri, has raised itself to the enviable position of providing an integration platform that is also an application. Both Spotfire and Esri fill niches in the portfolio (analytics for Spotfire, GIS for Esri) without competing directly with the mainstream E&P vendors. OpenSpirit provides the connectivity with Spotfire (and in some cases with Esri) into the E&P platforms.

As the only game in town, OS has its detractors. Some hanker after the days of an ‘open’ standard and bemoan the fact that OS is owned by a single vendor, Tibco. One criticism that is levelled at OS is that it suffers from the deployment issues that come with any enterprise level software that crosses operating system boundaries and software releases.

There is a feeling that there ought to be something less vendor dependent, more open, less hard to maintain. Such a desire for a ‘true’ business objects-based solution was expressed at this year’s PNEC in the surprise announcement of ‘yet another’ business objects proposal from EnergyIQ. 

But stepping back from the fray it is almost twenty years since the Open Spirit Alliance launched. Attendees to tradeshows, the SEG in particular, will have witnessed Clay Harter’s countless demos of the technology. His indefatigable, hands-on approach to promoting the technology contrasts with many who delegate such activity. Harter has seen the technology from inception to widespread deployment. Hats-off to Clay for this technology’s long-term success.

@neilmcn


Oil IT Journal Interview - Bert Beals, Cray

Cray's global head of energy talks to Oil IT Journal about machine learning in seismic imaging, Halliburton/Landmark's iEnergy community initiative, the merits of CPU vs. GPU computing and PGS' in-memory processed Gulf of Mexico Triton mega survey. Cray's initial support for iEnergy centers on seismic imaging but there are plans for to add support for reservoir modeling and interpretation.

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BGS' semantic geo-hackathon

British Geological Survey team investigates semantic pathways into multiple geological databases.

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Petroleum Geo-Services - machine learning for FWI

PGS's Abel supercomputer finds 'hidden and unexpected insights' in seismic data.

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FuseIM readies for geophysical micro-services

FuseIM reports win for master data repository, envisages move to Docker-style microservices.

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ROV-mounted Lidar survey used to 3D print hot tap connector

Fugro and 3D at Depth team on digital manufacturing for Australian well abandonment program.

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Tibco/OpenSpirit/Spotfire Energy Conference

Hess - from data lake to self service analytics. Nexen - Hadoop, R and Spotfire align unconventional reporting with SPEE Monograph 3. Spotfire 'Insight' big data analysis platform unveiled. OpenSpirit and Voyager team on subsurface/GIS data mashup. LSG delivers GIS data widgets to BP. OpenSpirit to see further Esri 'widgetization.' OpenSpirit central to ConocoPhillips' data framework.

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2016 ECIM Data Management conference, Haugesund

Teradata on internet of things. NPD on delivering data in the downturn. Sirius students 'skeptical' of industry. ConocoPhillips 'cuts down hedge' between data managers and business.' Statoil's 'Gold Finder.' Diskos gets Whereoil API. Cegal/Iron Mountain's big data cloud solution. Schlumberger's Studio World Map for Diskos. TNO on North Sea Data Management Forum. ILAP, more ...

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Folks, facts, orgs ...

API, Atwell, BP, GGR International, ClearEdge, ClearStream Energy Services, Deloitte, EQT, GE Digital, PG&E, Hexagon, Intsok, IOGCC, Mitsubishi, MOL Group, Altair, AGA, Marathon, Tendeka, P2ES, Piper Jaffray, Viking Venture, Navigant, Petrofac, SCA, Seanic, SHIP, Statoil.

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Done deals

Emerson acquires Permasense. Lloyd's Register has acquired Rtamo and is to hook-up with Greenfence. Optime Subsea Services to merge with Telemark Technologies. Drillinginfo buys Globalview and Ponderosa Energy's information assets. Circor acquires Critical Flow Solutions.

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2016 Pipeline Week Conference, Houston

Good turnout for Pennwell/PODS/GITA-backed event. Chevron on compliance-driven maintenance and inspection. Geomorphic on remote control boat inspection. Rosen on geospatial simulation. Summit/BSD on 'mega gas' rule. Infosys on process maturity. BSD on the 'summer of incidents.'

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Upstream crowdsourcing innovators

Crudefunders, Draupner Energy solicit investment, ideas.

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Sales, deployments, partnerships ...

Archeio, Accenture, P2 ES, SAP, Geophysical Insights, AASPI, Schlumberger, Adrok, Aker Solutions, Ansys, GE, Emerson, Ipres, IFS, Industry Task Force, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Department of Energy, Leidos, Amphora, US Bureau of Economic Geology, Ikon Science, Narrative Science, Deloitte, Paradigm, Petrobras, Total, CGI, Verifone, ATIO Group, Voyager Search, WellDog, WEX.

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Standards stuff

OPC-UA selected for Statoil's OneIMS initiative. IOGC reviews ECIM ILAP standard. US Metric Association's 100th birthday. EU interop reference architecture. CFA endorses XBRL financials.

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Wolfram/Mathematica Data Summit

AGU on data management. Mathematica 'one liners' impress. Version 11 embeds graph database.

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Wireless world

'Fiber-equivalent' satellite. VSAT for Aramco. ExactEarth AIS. Navigant's research. Telemar sold.

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Yokogawa's process data analytics

Process quality issues anticipated with controversial pattern recognition technology.

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Where is a well?

Fugro study of Shell's Irak asset considers tectonic plate motion in high accuracy positioning effort.

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Honeywell instruments Statoil's Valemon remote operations

Human factors study and Experion technology enable operator teams to relocate shoreside.

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Range Resources finds 86,000 lost Marcellus wells

Esri, Geocortex and boots on the ground combine in historic map making effort.

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Clariant's digital chemicals management

Veritrax couples real time field data with the chemicals supply chain.

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