September 2003

VoxelVision for SIS

Schlumberger has bought another Norwegian software house—VoxelVision. The acquisition adds Linux based high performance visualization and yet another seismic app to the SIS product line.

Schlumberger Information Solutions (SIS) has acquired Norwegian visualization specialist VoxelVision. VoxelVision uses Linux clusters to manage, visualize and interpret 3D seismic data volumes.


SIS president Ihab Toma said, “VoxelVision’s turbo engine, coupled with our industry-leading applications, bring high-end visualization and seismic applications to a PC. This is the most cost-effective combination of interpretation applications and technology available today.”


VoxelVision’s technology runs applications as concurrent, multi-level dynamic parallel tasks. The visualization engine scales from single CPU to distributed cluster configurations. SIS’ first commercial offering incorporating the turbo engine, GeoViz 3D, will be released by year-end 2003. VoxelVision technology will become a key component of other SIS applications, such as Petrel and Inside Reality. Combined with existing SIS intellectual property, VoxelVision technology and seismic applications will form the foundation for ‘a new interpretation paradigm’.


VoxelVision founder Ola Fjeld added, “We started to explore this technology because we saw the need for applications that could take advantage of PC clusters. Incorporating the VoxelVision technology and expertise into SIS preeminent software offers tremendous opportunities for us to realize this vision on a global scale.” VoxelVision’s applications are OpenSpirit-enabled. Last year VV received a cash injection from Statoil’s venture capital arm, Statoil Innovations. Tests by Scott Pickford and Norsk Hydro (reported in Oil ITJ Vol. 7 N°s 7 and 11) have demonstrated the performance of Linux clusters for seismic autotracking and visualization of a massive 135 GB seismic volume.

Future visual

Fjeld earlier stated his belief that established vendors suffer from the need to be “backward-compatible with outdated ideas” adding “there is no longer any place for traditional line by line interpretation, The future is visual”. The move follows on the heels of Landmark’s acquisition of PetroBank from PGS, and SIS’ prior acquisition of Petrel—all illustrating the strength of Norway’s venture capital and software sectors.

GE buys MJ Harden

Pipeline GIS specialist MJ Harden will be subsumed into GE’s Oil and Gas unit—combining engineering with application software and data management.

GE Power Systems has acquired pipeline GIS specialists M.J. Harden Inc. (MJH). The company will integrate the UK-based pipeline integrity division of GE’s PII Pipeline Solutions unit—part of GE Power Systems’ Oil & Gas business.


GE Oil & Gas president Claudi Santiago said, “The acquisition combines PII’s engineering knowledge and best practices for pipeline integrity management with MJH’s software and data management capabilities. This will offer enhanced decision support and greater efficiency in our clients’ pipeline maintenance operations and planning.


MJH president Ron Domsch added, “This acquisition is a merger of strengths. Adding our expertise and experience to GE’s resources will create one of the pipeline industry’s most comprehensive packages of integrity management products and services.” MJH offers consulting, database design, data conversion and integration, software application development, photogrammetry and digital mapping. Primary industries served include oil and gas transmission, oil, gas and municipal utilities, pipeline construction, and government.

Oil IT Journal at SPE, SEG, SIS etc.

Oil IT Journal editor Neil McNaughton is back from vacation and rearing to go. An intensive program of conference attendance is planned for the last quarter of 2003. Intensive program means a considerable investment and we take this opportunity of reminding you of the full range of reporting services available from The Data Room and Oil IT Journal.

Just back from a great vacation spent getting well away from it all, walking in the Pyrenees. So well away in fact that despite recharged batteries, I must confess to being a bit out of the loop on matters informatical.


It would be nice to offer you a witty account my holidays to concluded with a pithy message of significance to the IT/DM community. Instead, a more prosaic forward-looking ‘travelogue’—of our upcoming conference attendances.


Our travels will first take us to Miami for the Schlumberger Information Solutions 2003 Forum from which we will be reporting in the October issue of Oil IT Journal. From there, we will be traveling to Denver for the Society of Petroleum Engineers Annual Conference and Technical Exhibition (ACTE) which will appear in the November issue.


Our next trip, towards the end of October, takes us first Dallas for the Society of Exploration Geophysicists International Exhibition and 73rd Annual meeting. From there we will be heading north to Calgary for the AGM of the Public Petroleum Data Model Association. The SEG report will feature in the December edition of the Journal.

An invitation

Why am I telling you this I hear you ask! First because if you are attending any of these shows yourselves, it would be great to get together. If you have a message to get across, an axe to grind or a rant to rave, then we would like to hear from you. To help you find me, I include a holiday snap of yours truly—sporting a tee shirt from last years SPE fun run.

Second this is to emphasize that we do get around and our on-the-spot show reports are a big deal (and investment) for us.

Marketing mix

Talking of investment, it is a while since I spoke of our ‘marketing mix’—which has kind of stabilized now after a few years of vacillation. We try and offer something to everyone—in the hope of course that some at least will trade-up to the subscription services which make our conference attendances possible.


Our offering begins with an entry level free service of monthly headlines. Next comes a paid subscription to the paper edition of the Oil IT Journal. Incidentally, the Journal is available at a reduced ‘individual’ rate for bona-fide consultants and ‘start-uppers’. We offer two levels of subscription for corporations—which include access to the full text of Oil IT Journal online.

Technology Watch

Finally, again targeting the corporate market, our Technology Watch Report service offers a complete and frequently illustrated account of what’s new and what’s hot in oil and gas information technology. You can now check out the summary and contents of our Technology Watch reports on the website—so you can see what your missing if your organization is not yet subscribing to this unique service.


This month’s issue of Oil IT Journal offers probably the widest-ranging coverage of oil and gas IT ever. From a new wellsite petrophysics suite to contract management software for the traders. Incidentally, without being too fixated on such matters we are trying a new format—with a kind of upstream-to-downstream ‘flow’ from front to back of the Journal. I look forward to your feedback on these developments—by email to —or better still at one of the tradeshows above. See you there.

MMS giveth and taketh away!

The MMS awarded and quickly withdrew a data contract to A2D.

An administrative snafu has caused the US Minerals Management Service (MMS) to withdraw a contract awarded last month to TGS NOPEC unit A2D Technologies. A2D was granted a five-year contract to manage the technical and logistical aspects of the MMS’ mandate to collect and distribute well log data over the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). In a surprise reversal of this decision, the MMS notified A2D earlier this month that it was withdrawing its earlier award of the well data processing contract. The withdrawal is due to a ‘misinterpretation’ by the MMS of an internal report. MMS procedures now require that all proposals be re-evaluated as previously submitted in their final form. No indication of how long the re-evaluation might take was given.

Oil ITJ Interview Michael Behouneck

Oil IT Journal spoke to Halliburton’s director of knowledge management, Michael Behouneck. Behouneck manages Halliburton’s internal KM programs—building communities of practice for field engineers. Halliburton’s secret to KM success is the knowledge broker—a facilitator who acts as a buffer between users and the subject matter experts.

Oil ITJ - How did knowledge management (KM) begin in Halliburton?

Behouneck—We began with a scoping team, tried to find out what KM is about, checked with lots of companies to evaluate their projects and produced a road map.

Oil ITJ—So what is KM?

Behouneck—KM is about getting the right information to the right people at the right time in a systematic fashion, with minimum input from end users.

Oil ITJ—What did your peers teach you?

Behouneck—Our evaluation showed that many companies saw KM projects such as expert locators and Communities of Practice (COP) as ‘silver bullets’—kind of putting the cart before the horse! Why should a highly qualified drilling engineer take part in a COP? Expert locators don't work—experts don’t want to be located!

Oil ITJ—So how did you start out?

Behouneck—We already had a best practices/lessons learned database which helped early system design. The real trick was to remove the need for an expert. An intermediary—the knowledge broker—collects and validates information, checking with the expert as necessary. Today most regular issues have solutions in the system.

Oil ITJ—How do you evaluate success?

Behouneck—Halliburton used to do a poor job of transferring knowledge. We now monitor project value as objectively as we can. The businesses do the evaluation. Our E-Tech electronic technician KM program shared over 100 lessons learned, speeded problem resolution and identified training needs. This saved around $1 million in 2002—of an overall $5 million attributed directly to our KM initiatives.

Oil ITJ—Does KM require high-end tools or is email and USENET enough?

Behouneck— A good question! The problem with email is that it is hard to branch and thread discussions. Mailboxes are already overloaded and you need to open mail. Message boards are powerful—but the issue here is not the technology but quality assurance of the answers. You might get five answers posted—but which one is right? This is where the knowledge broker comes in.

Oil ITJ—What tools do you use?

Behouneck—We couldn’t find what we needed on the market. We started with Plumtree as a guide but ended up doing our own development based on a threaded discussion tool. Topics are numbered and tracked as open, resolved or closed. A solid search engine is important, we deploy Autonomy. This is a robust tool—but integration with other applications is problematical. The Portal provides a user-friendly front end that lets us push information based on roles and responsibilities. The Portal recognizes you upon sign-on and offers a discipline-based interface depending on either job and role or blended across different job/role combinations cutting across electricians, manufacturing and maintenance. We now have 12 communities up and running.

Oil ITJ—How important is the ‘broker’?

Behouneck—COPS evolve and will die out as subject matter declines. The key to sustainability is the broker—definitely not a part time job. A COP needs a critical mass—one broker for every 350 members or so. We have communities of 1000 members with 3 brokers. This is incidentally an excellent training position—we rotate engineers through the position. The broker is not an expert—he/she will likely be a couple of years out of school.

Oil ITJ - These numbers suggest that KM is not for smaller companies.

Behouneck—A ‘people network’ is probably enough for a smaller company. But they can connect with others through

Oil ITJ—Do you use content management?

Behouneck—We looked at this. It’s not easy. Down the road we think that some kind of XML data could be stored. We have already rebuilt our corporate taxonomy and hope to leverage this. We are working on a content management system from Interwoven. This will be used for critical information that needs to be retained. We participate in the POSC taxonomy and showed what we have to the group. Halliburton taxonomy started out with in-house work then rolled-in the Tulsa Abstract which we streamlined and pared down. Our customers like it. But if there are over 7 layers it gets hard to sort for documents. 5 layers should be considered a maximum. This has worked for standardizing well names and numbers. But the complexity of worldwide geo-locations is a harder task.

Shell gets well planner from Peak Group

The Peak Group and Shell sign contract for probabilistic well planning and cost estimating software.

Shell International Exploration and Production BV (SIEP) has awarded UK-based Peak Group a contract to supply well planning and cost estimating software for incorporation within SIEP’s Global Standard Software Portfolio. The Peak Group’s ‘P1’ and ‘C1’ applications will thus be available for use by Shell’s upstream units worldwide. P1 provides single well project modeling, while C1 rolls-up P1 projects at the drilling campaign level. Both tools use Monte-Carlo probabilistic estimation techniques to deliver a realistic representation of the spread of possible time/cost outcomes in well delivery.


Peak Group MD Andrew Paterson said, “We have been using P1 and C1 ourselves for probabilistic well management for a while now and are convinced by the improvements in performance that P1 and C1 can deliver. Our international structure, with offices in Houston, Jakarta and Perth allows us to provide a worldwide service. Our agreement with Shell is a significant landmark in the history of the Peak Group and we are in no doubt that it will enable us to further enhance the capabilities of our leading edge products.”

eLynx data plugs into Petris database

Houston Exploration integrates operational data with technology from eLynx and Petris.

As reported in Oil IT Journal (Vol. 8 N° 6) Houston Exploration Company (HEC) is using wireless SCADA technology from eLynx to connect around 500 South Texas wells to the internet. Now, a new deal between eLynx and Petris will integrate the real-time data feeds into a web-enabled database.

Data integration engine

The software companies have developed what is described as a ‘robust data integration engine’ to connect their services. Operational data collected by eLynx’s well monitoring services is served to the HEC engineers through Petris’ web-based data analysis interface. The integration engine periodically normalizes the data and transmits it to the Petris database where it can be combined with other data including well bore information, well logs, geological maps and well histories to provide the engineer with a single point of analysis.

DecisionXpress—the end of quick look?

New software from Schlumberger takes high-end petrophysical analysis to the well site.

As many explorationists have found, interpreting log data at the well site involves costly, mission-critical decision making before coring and sampling operations, casing, sidetracking, and completion. Schlumberger’s new DecisionXpress rigsite petrophysical evaluation system should help operators by providing an integrated, quality-controlled petrophysical interpretation immediately after completion of logging operations.

Platform Express

DecisionXpress integrates data from Platform Express and Elemental Capture Spectroscopy (ECS) services to deliver what is claimed as a ‘robust’ petrophysical evaluation at the wellsite.

Deepwater tests

In tests, the new system successfully identified significant hydrocarbon zones that were previously misinterpreted as water-bearing intervals from conventional quick look log analysis. The built-in petrophysical evaluation quality control highlighted the correct formation water salinity values necessary for accurate resistivity-based water saturation calculations. Porosity, permeability and water saturation results were later validated by core analyses.

Divestco raises $3 million from Octagon

New cash injection will finance Divestco’s take-over of International Datashare Corp.

Calgary-based Divestco is to raise $3 million through a private placement from Octagon Capital Corporation. Divestco is a privately held software, web services, oil and gas data, and seismic services company. Octagon has an option to increase the size of its stake to $4 million.


Closing of the offering is conditional upon completion of the previously announced amalgamation of International Datashare Corp (IDC) and Divestco. The proceeds of the private placement are intended to be used to settle outstanding liabilities of IDC and for ‘general corporate purposes’ of the new company. The amalgamation will be decided at a special meeting of IDC and Divestco shareholders this month.


Divestco CEO Steve Popadynetz said, “As we integrate the companies and continue to grow, we expect to be able to offer a more complete solution than is available from anyone else in our industry. It is a very exciting time in our company, in our industry and for our customers.”

Video conference proliferation

Announcements from Viseon and Tandberg illustrate growing popularity of teleconferencing.

The oil and gas videoconferencing market is hotting-up with announcements from Viseon and Tandberg. Parker Drilling Company has purchased Viseon VisiFones for video communications between its offices worldwide.


Claimed to be the first low-cost broadband videophone, the VisiFone is a stand-alone system that does not require a PC. The VisiFone operates on any broadband connection and home or office network including high-speed Internet connections via DSL or cable modem—delivering up to 30 fps video.

Offshore Europe

At the Offshore Europe Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference this month Tandberg and videoconferencing partner Global VideoCom were showing high-end videconferencing systems as deployed in Schlumberger’s ‘iCenter’. Top of the Tandberg range is the 7000 Series system, designed for large group conferences and sporting twin 30” LCD screens, embedded security, high bandwidth and built-in conferencing with multiple video and audio sites.

Prospect Oasis portal opens for business

A new Acquisition and Divestment portal has just opened to serve the North American market.

Calgary-based Storage Alliance Inc. (SAI) has purchased the assets of StrataWeb Systems – notably its DataMap GIS. SAI also recently opened a new Acquisition and Divestment (A&D) portal, ProspectOasis. Strata Web aggregates geotechnical data from multiple databases, including public and proprietary sources, into a web browser. The software displays well locations, land grid and lease boundaries, pipeline facilities, active rig locations and seismic data.


SAI’s ProspectOasis is a global trading platform for marketable oil and gas prospects and production properties. SAI COO Bob Irwin said, “Sellers need to portray their properties cost effectively. Buyers want to visit a benchmark web location to validate engineering, geological and geophysical information.” Legend Petroleum of Houston is Prospect Oasis’ first customer with its Louisiana ‘Big Boy’ prospect.

Real time asset center for Aberdeen

Landmark new center will support its marketing and consulting effort in the North Sea.

Landmark has opened a new Asset Development Center in Aberdeen to showcase its technology in a state-of-the-art visualization room featuring a 24-foot diameter, 160° spherical screen. The Centre will offer applications including PetroBank and the latest release (Version 3.0) of Magic Earth’s Geoprobe high end interpretation software.


Landmark president Andy Lane said, “The Center integrates our clients’ people, processes and technology to optimize decision-making. Customers can optimize asset performance, reduce cycle time, implement new processes and improve profitability.”


Landmark will also be offering consulting services for prospect generation, field development planning, well and drilling and production optimization through its Asset Performance Consulting group to clients in the center.

Roxar extends Sensornet fiber solution

Roxar and Sensornet are to combine gauge and fiber technologies for downhole monitoring.

Roxar has signed a collaboration agreement with Sensornet to provide integrated fiber optic and electronic gauge monitoring solutions. The technology promises improved information flow for the enhanced asset performance of the digital oilfield of the future (DOFF). Sensornet’s technology monitors strain and temperature at all points along the deployed fiber.


Roxar Production Management Managing Director Rune Kvernberg explained, “This agreement gives Roxar access to industry leading fiber optic expertise. We will be able to offer existing and future customers a permanent monitoring solution for Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) .”


Sensornet MD Mahmoud Farhadiroushan added “Sensornet will integrate its novel distributed optical sensing technology with Roxar’s electronic gauge systems providing a range of innovative well and reservoir monitoring solutions”.

Petrodata gets BP, Gaz de France contracts

Petrodata is to re-organize BP Norway’s archives and host Gaz de France’s software.

Stavanger-based Petrodata has won contracts from BP and Gaz de France’s Norwegian units. BP Norway has chosen Petrodata for a major clean-up project within its administrative archives—over 5000 shelf meters of archives stored at multiple locations. BP plans to restructure its archives according to criticality and information type.


BP digital business manager Tor Minsaas said “We plan to separate critical information from stuff we can dispose of. We are also merging our archives into one common structure, thereby making all relevant information easily accessible.”


In a separate contract, Gaz de France Norge (GDF) has awarded Petrodata a contract to host its major subsurface software applications. The decision followed a successful three month pilot project.

Team Workspace

Petrodata will host Schlumberger software which GDF uses to access PetroBank. The hosting solution is based on Landmark’s Team Workspace portal which allows for information sharing and virtual teamwork with partners and public bodies.


GDF Exploration Manager Vigdis Jacobsen said, “Outsourcing IT works well and enables us to focus on finding and producing oil and gas.” Petrodata is owned by Landmark and IBM. More from

POSC, PPDM standards report

Our reports from the spring member meetings of the Petroleum Open Standards Consortium and the Public Petroleum Data Model Association have been some time ‘in preparation’. This tardiness in no way reflects on the significance of these organizations’ efforts to harness what is a widespread desire in the industry for standardization. Of particular note are the POSC data catalogue project and the PPDM’s evolving Spatial Integration effort. These two projects illustrate one difference in approach: PPDM’s work is almost always centered on model development and extension, POSC projects are more wide-ranging and often emerge fully-formed from prior in-house sponsor projects. A significant plus point we noted was the use of the POSC well header XML as a starting point for the PPDM equivalent. Other signs of what remains timid collaboration are witnessed in the cataloging effort—now that catalog torch bearers Flare Consultants have joined PPDM.

POSC Spring Member Meeting - London


Paradigm’s Phil Neri, speaking at the London POSC spring member meet contrasted the ‘tight data and lose applications’ of the major vendors with Paradigm’s ‘lose data and tight applications’. Paradigm’s interoperating technology leverages CORBA calls (but not Open Spirit) to disparate vendor data repositories. Paradigm’s Web Asset Manager (WAM) spiders the LAN and returns an XML catalogue of project data. WAM’s GIS front-end helps locate data.

Smart field

John Willis (Halliburton) believes the Smart Field reflects a new era where a massive influx of data mandates pre-processing before use. Smart field benefits include real-time simulation to anticipate future declines with faster and more effective intervention. Data exchange standards are important—a common framework allows for plug-in components to be deployed.

IM metrics

Paul Cleverley (Flare Solutions) believes ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’. Cleverley presented the results of a survey of 14 companies reflecting a ‘strong interest’ in information management metrics. Flare is punting an IM metrics study at a cost of £5,000 per participant. Results will likely be released to POSC at a later date.

Premier Oil

As befits one of the dwindling number of UK independents, Premier Oil boasts an individualistic IM strategy as Nigel Webb reported. Premier uses a variety of repositories including GeoFrame, Livelink, OpenRSO and Robertson’s Traxx. A GIS enabled subsurface data portal was developed from Stephenson & Associates’ Sapphire and Deloitte & Touche’s PetroView. This leverages a metadata catalogue and standard UIDs to provide a single point of access for Premier’s data.

Subsurface data standards and procedures have been developed and tested for GeoFrame. Another project involved clean-up and indexing of data stored off-site. This reduced storage and retrieval costs, and paid for itself in under three years.


Hugo Belder (NAM) asks ‘how good is your company at supplying information on asset integrity?’. This is an issue for NAM which could impact its license to operate. Shell has an ongoing ‘quality data at your fingertips’ program which has involved a study of Shell’s knowledge assets acquired since the 1940’s. Input and output tasks and related documents fall into around 2,000 different categories—or ‘natures’. These constitute Shell’s catalogue through which users can locate data. Access and use passes through regular portal-enabled applications. The system is being rolled out at Shell Expro and Norske Shell.

Managed collections

The catalogue is a component of NAM’s ‘managed collections’, a complex, streamlined workflow aimed at assuring data quality during capture. Shell’s Asset Hierarchy Application (AHA) manages the interface between information producers (structured office workers), and knowledge consumers (event-driven action men!). AHA leverages transactional data along with the master reference data catalogue to enable ‘controlled publishing’ of documents and other corporate data. The details are contained in a Company Data Blueprint (CBD) – of which there is one per domain. The subsurface CDB helps users classify (pick the ‘nature’) from 15-20 choices at the portal. A combination of LiveLink EDMS and collaboration technology offers structured access to the 200,000 of NAM’s documents, which been classified so far. This took one year—from a total of 6 million items!


Danish state oil co DONG’s rapid expansion forced a rethink of data management. A review performed by Flare Consultants revealed a multiplicity of databases and applications. Iter-departmental data sharing was hard. DONG has deployed Flare’s E&P Catalogue and Wave system which leverages POSC-defined product types. A product type comprises a KID-type, a product group and a consumer discipline. DONG now plans to extend the catalogue to other domains, integrating with other applications like EDMS and GIS.


David Archer recapped POSC’s active projects. Many (E&P Catalogue, Data Storage and revisiting the PIDX Petroleum Industry Data Dictionary) originate in Shell’s Knowledge-Information-Data (KID) work. A related project for 2003 involves ‘Reference Entities and Values’ stemming from more Shell work on an E&P Business Process Model. The Data Storage Solutions SIG is an attempt to respond to an industry ‘struggling with data management work practices’. Mention was made of the ‘Universal Business Language’ (UBL) for defining ‘context’. This is likely to be deployed as a part of the an E&P business processes initiative where Shell has contributed a model.

PPDM Spring Member Meeting - Houston

PPDM technical update

Trudy Curtis (PPDM) outlined recommendations from the modeling committee including the use of a global unique identifier in all tables, enhanced data management capability, data time stamping and support for any SQL 92-compliant database. Work is in progress on a PPDM meta-model with a DDL code generation option. PPDM V3.7 now comprises 45 modules, 1,207 tables and 22,825 columns. Work on version 3.8 of the PPDM data model will start later in 2003—and will include modules for Well Operations, Taxonomies, Geochemistry, Heavy Oil, Well Log Interpretation, Royalties, Special Core Analysis and Joint Interests.


Colin Knill (PetroSoft) described the reserves booking process including classification, production entity definition and estimation. The workgroup has addressed reserve reporting including revision management, joint venture accounting, volume conversion and rollup hierarchies. Various production forecasting methods are supported and evaluations can be stored in the database—along with a record of how they were obtained. Future work will focus on economics, budget planning and portfolio optimization.


Robert Witrock (US Minerals Management Service) reviewed the final PPDM biostratigraphy module covering lithologic sampling, fossil identification, taxonomy, ecozones and assemblages. A sample dataset from the US MMS is included. A second paper by Witrock described the use of biostrat databases in stratigraphic architecture and sequence stratigraphy.

Well Logs

Harry Schultz (Oilware) reported that the Well Log work group is developing dictionaries and classifications for curves and logging parameters. Storage of digits, raster and original format logs is also provided (in or outside of the database) and a range of metadata and presentational preferences is provided.


PPDM’s Ian Batty recapped the PPDM Spatial Enablement II project—showing how a table of well deviation data could be leveraged in a spatial database. The prime target is the ubiquitous ESRI Geodatabase. But Spatial II also offers an OGC compliant methodology. Batty defended the PPDM spatial project from criticism that it is too closely linked with ESRI’s proprietary technology. Batty insists that PPDM Spatial principles are technology independent; although implementation will contain proprietary elements. The 2003 spatial project will be delivered in three technology ‘tracks’ as OGIS-enabled data, an OGIS-compliant simple feature dataset, and as an ESRI Geodatabase.

Seismic formats

Petris’ Jeff Pferd described an ongoing project to map seismic positional formats (UKOOA P1/90 and SEG/P1) to the PPDM data model. Problems were encountered with inconsistencies in the PPDM model due in part to ‘successive minor improvements that did not take the global schema into account’. Pferd advocates closer cooperation between PPDM, the SEG and the UKOOA to produce a definitive mapping.

Data exchange

The data exchange project is PPDM’s main venture into XML-based data formats. Rick Taylor (PPDM) reports that the XML schemas are used by Nexen, and EnCana. Once data has been captured to an XML file, it can be reused via XSLT style sheets to produce a variety of documents. Taylor acknowledges that the current phase of the data exchange project relies heavily on prior work by POSC and PIDX.

Enterprise GIS

Andrew Zolnai described ESRI’s Geodatabase as offering ‘full description and geo-processing of geographic features’. Current work focuses on detached editing and synchronization, 3D texture mapping, database-driven cartography and editing over the internet. Zolnai believes that Enterprise GIS is ‘less project than implementation’—where considerations of security, IT infrastructure and workflow predominate. Data models are important too—Zolnai cited PPDM (naturally), the ESRI Plot File (ESI) and the MJ Harden Pipeline Data Model. GIS has seen a paradigm shift from data exchange (through Geoshare or XML) to reading data ‘in-situ’ with on-demand access. Modern geo-processing leverages secure communications across the firewall to view disparate sources like real-time hurricane weather maps as a backdrop to offshore facilities.

Calibrated Logs

Bill Ross (A2D Technologies) noted that depth calibrated log images are increasingly used in interpretation. A2D has proposed that the format of the registration file is standardized and incorporated into the PPDM data model.

Corporate Governance

Travis Osborne (Stonebridge Technologies) sees data management as a component of good corporate governance as encouraged by the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley act. Primarily this lays down rules for financial reporting but can also be understood as applying to operations, supply chain and asset management. IT’s role in this is to provide the technical infrastructure to support strategic objectives like data cleanup, systems integration and application development. Osborne believes that the PPDM data model provides a base framework to capture the data required to ‘bridge IT and corporate governance’.

Extract, transform and load

Harry Schultz’s company Oilware has teamed with ETL Solutions Ltd. to leverage extract transform and load technology in the upstream. ETL was formed by a management buyout of Prism Technology’s ETL unit in 2002. A proof-of-concept transfer of data from a variety of industry standard formats (LIS, LAS, DLIS, BIT) to PPDM 3.7 leveraged Oilware’s EZTools and ETL’s Transformation Manager. ETL tools are mainly deployed in the financial services industry today. Data validation is built in to the ETL process.

Expanded versions of these reports are available as a part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch reporting service. For info email

Folks, facts orgs, et cetera

This month’s folks hail from CGG, CDA, Hampson-Russell, NHDS, Roxar, Veritas and Baker Hughes.

Steve Raleigh and Cato Bolstad have been respectively appointed managers of CGG’s London and Houston processing centers while Michel Darbousset is now VP Data Processing & Reservoir Services for the Americas. Luc Schlumberger is VP Multi-Client Surveys.


Isobel Emslie of ConocoPhillips has been elected to chair the Common Data Aaccess (CDA) Council.


Adrian Smith is the manager of Hampson-Russell’s new Dubai office.


NHDS has appointed Lavinia Weissman as president and Jim Kelly to develop its HDI-DWD Knowledge Management System in Houston.


Roxar has appointed Mark Bashforth as Managing Director of Software while Andres Hatloy has been named CTO.


Dave Robson has advised Veritas’ board of directors that he will step down as CEO as soon as a replacement can be found. Robson cited health reasons for his decision to retire.


Baker Hughes Inc. has named James ‘Rod’ Clark as VP marketing and technology.

Pennwell closes EnergyData unit

PennEnergyData is up for sale—the final chapter in the PI/Dwights data saga?

Penn Energy DATA (PED) parent PennWell is throwing in the towel on its upstream data business. PennWell is seeking to ‘divest or partner’ its permit, well, and production data business and focus instead on its core competencies of publishing, conferences and exhibitions. PED was created to market the ex-PI/Dwights dataset that the old PennPoint unit acquired.

Commercial failure

Despite selling the dataset at ‘a fraction of the cost of IHS Energy’, the unit failed to achieve commercial success. PED has a staff of around 15 plus 5-10 scouts maintaining the database. PED operations have been suspended pending the search for interested buyers or partners for the business.

Digital compliance for Sarbanes-Oxley

Wellogix CEO Ike Epley argues that Sarbanes-Oxley mandates preventative procurement control.

A new White Paper from Wellogix Software’s CEO Ike Epley argues that Sarbanes-Oxley mandates traceable, digital procurement. Complex services procurement and operations represent the largest component of upstream spending and should be the focus of the compliance and transparency that the recent Sarbanes-Oxley legislation imposes. Failure to implement effective internal controls can compromise a company’s ability to produce reliable and fairly presented financial statements.


Epley cites an example of a company implementing multiple manual and automated procurement processes. Here, lack of standardization led to manual work-arounds resulting in ad-hoc, unrecorded payments and non-identified financial information errors.

Soft sell

Epley believes that prevention is better than detection and advocates the use of ‘a preventative system based approach’ versus the old ‘pre-Sarbanes’ method of detecting non-compliance after the fact. The White Paper concludes with a soft sell for Wellogix’ system—described as a ‘tool to assist in compliance of Sarbanes-Oxley Act.’ More from

Philippines’ Virtual Data Room

The Philippine government has contracted Petrodata to showcase data from its first bidding round.

As part of its first ever competitive bidding round, the Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) is using web technology to make a data package available to industry. The data covers prospective acreage in offshore West Palawan and the Sulu Sea.

Bridge Group

Norwegian consultants The Bridge Group supervised the work of making all data available and the establishment of geological models for the area. All data will be made available over the web from a Virtual Data Room (VDR)—saving interested companies the cost of a trip to Manila.


Hosted from Petrodata’s computing centre in Stavanger, the VDR will house hundreds of scanned reports, documents and maps along with 2D seismics, selected lines from a 3D cube and some 90 wells. An area of more than 230,000 sq. km. has been loaded into OpenWorks. A DOE spokesperson said, “Petrodata offers us a broad range of services and a cost-effective volume-based service agreement. This assures the flexibility, high quality and availability of our license round data.”


Petrodata MD Trond Hanesand added, “DOE’s decision to use our VDR is exciting—and will bring the business benefits and added value that DOE is expecting”.

BP Canada deploys WellPoint OMS

BP is using WellPoint’s marketing software in its Canadian crude oil trading unit.

BP Canada has selected WellPoint’s Oil Marketing System (OMS) for its Energy Trading unit. WellPoint claims that its OMS is Canada’s dominant crude oil marketing software—handling over 60% of Canada’s traded volumes.


WellPoint CEO Frank Stanford said, “We look forward to working with BP Canada Energy Trading to ensure OMS helps the marketing and administration departments serve their customers’ needs in the rapidly changing oil and gas business.”


WellPoint is expanding into the United States and plans to make its products ‘the standard for midstream crude oil across North America’. WellPoint also markets an integrated well life cycle application— MaxWell and a pipeline/terminal management tool Cobra. More from

Data registry and National Archive for UK

New websites and repositories are set to enhance data access for the UK.

The UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has just announced a new ‘Data Registry’ of data from UK offshore hydrocarbons licenses. The Data Registry will initially list the DTI’s core and 2D seismic data but the catalog will expand to include other repositories and data types.

Data Archive

The DTI and British Geological Survey (BGS) have also established the UK National Hydrocarbon Data Archive to preserve geo-science data collected from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) for posterity and to make it available ‘at low cost for public use’.


Opening the new facilities at Offshore Europe 2003, Energy Minister Stephen Timms said, “The Data Registry and the new National Hydrocarbon Data Archive will help stimulate UKCS exploration. Coupled with the Fallow Field Initiative and recent tax incentives today’s new data sources are further evidence of the benefits to be reaped from collaboration between government and industry.”


The Data Registry is integrated into the UK ‘DEAL’ web site and accessed via the Data Map and Data Registry search forms. The Registry publishes a ‘comprehensive catalogue’ of released well and seismic survey data for the UKCS, and points users to where this data may be obtained.


EnCana UK MD Alan Booth added “The Data Registry and National Archive are important steps in maximizing the UKCS’ remaining exploration and reserve potential. This also demonstrates the collaborative spirit of all stakeholders in the UK oil and gas industry.”


The DEAL Data Registry is managed by CDA Limited, a subsidiary of the UK Offshore Operators’ Association (UKOOA) and is operated by the BGS. By the end of 2004, the DEAL Data Registry will offer a comprehensive catalogue of well, seismic and other important data, linking users to more than ten million items of geo-science data.


The National Hydrocarbon Data Archive (NHDA) has been set up to house ‘selected geoscience’ data, relieving companies of current obligations to keep the data ‘forever’. Early adopters BP, Chevron-Texaco, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Total are in the process of transferring data to the new archive.


Another online resource was made available to the public recently—a portal listing UK-based oil and gas research organizations. provides online access to the UK’s ‘Oil & Gas Research Capability Database’. The new database was jointly developed by the Industry Technology Facilitator and the DTI. The database includes details of research expertise and facilities (such as flow loops, core analysis rigs or materials testing equipment) that are available to the industry whether as part of a research project or on a consultancy basis.

With BGS, LOGIC, PILOT, ITF, DEAL and so on there will soon be more Quangos promoting oil and gas activity than operators in the UK!

Landmark upgrades Houston center

Landmark has added a state-of-the-art projection upgrade from SEOS to its Houston RTAM center.

Landmark has upgraded its Houston Real Time Asset Management center with a ScorpionRT projection/display management system from UK-based Specialised Electro Optical Services Ltd. (SEOS). The SEOS Scorpion multi-media presentation and control system delivers a seamless, scaleable desktop to multiple screen displays.


Scorpion integrates diverse media sources such as VCR, DVD, camera, computer, workstations and laptops to provide a ‘coherent working and presentation environment’. The new technology offers simultaneous access multiple computer platforms while using video conferencing to collaborate with remote sites - all on the same immersive screen. Scorpion can output up to 24 1600 x1200 resolution overlapped images. The Scorpion system is also deployed in Magic Earth’s Houston ‘POD’.

Business intelligence tool from Aclaro

A new release of PetroLook offers economic data roll-up, reconciliation and reporting.

Aclaro software has released a new version of its PetroLook web-based business intelligence, data integration, and reporting system. Version 3.0 of PetroLook provides a common interface to multiple systems and claims to ‘remove the barriers that impede access, sharing, analysis and reporting of data’.


Aclaro president Christoph Faig said, “PetroLook can roll-up data from Peep, Aries and Excel, reconcile reserves, and report directly to the government. We now offer PetroLook’s rich reporting and analysis to other applications. A manager can click an icon and generate a report without learning the source systems.”

Business layers

PetroLook’s business layers are a key feature of the system. A new reserves reconciliation layer lets users roll-up, reconcile, and report reserves using a comprehensive suite of reports including the EIA-23 and a direct to RIGS export.


This latest release of the software, developed using Microsoft’s .NET architecture makes it easier to access, analyze, and report the data. The new architecture allows the system to provide its analysis and reporting as a web service and provide reporting to other applications and intranet portals.

DMS gas management for Texas regulator

Petris Winds is to host gas management software for the Texas General Land Office.

The Texas General Land Office (TGLO, a State regulatory body) has selected Data Management Solutions’ (DMS) GasPro5 software to manage the State’s Take-In-Kind (TIK) program. The DMS solution will be hosted on the PetrisWINDS system. GasPro5 is an integrated system for buying or selling natural gas along with dispatching, scheduling, tracking and accounting functions.


DMS President Frank Pena said, “DMS made the decision to partner with Petris as a way to reach both state agencies and independents. GasPro5 is state-of-the-art gas management software that is now affordable to smaller companies, as well as governmental agencies.”


Petris CEO Jim Pritchett added, “Hosting offers the TGLO high quality, affordable software over the Internet, allowing for reduced internal support requirements, matching the program’s growing needs with its budget and adding value to the state’s energy resources.”

Inline explorer app from Geofields

New software from pipleline specialists GeoFields manages inspection and repair data.

GeoFields Inc. has announced a new pipeline inspection and repair application, Inline Explorer. The software supports monitoring of pipeline defects and managing repair efforts. Inline Explorer stores an operator’s entire inventory of pipeline inspection surveys, regardless of the survey vendor or tool type. The application tracks defects and work histories through a central database.


GeoFields president Brad Schaaf said, “Inline Explorer follows the release of the Inspection Data Integration service earlier this year and puts comprehensive defect analysis and management directly into the hands of those who are most familiar with the pipeline’s condition, whether they are in the office or in the field.”

Dig sheets

Pipeline operators frequently own many surveys and systems for producing dig sheets and for managing work orders. Inline Explorer groups these related functions into a single portable tool, avoiding the need for multiple applications and repeat inspection surveys.

Halliburton’s PIDX XML transactions

Halliburton is using the PIDX-XML standards to link its ERP back office systems with clients.

Halliburton Energy Services has completed its first electronic transactions using the API’s e-commerce transaction standard—PIDX-XML. The transactions involved two major oil companies and included purchase orders, signed field tickets and invoices for projects in the Gulf of Mexico and in California. These initial deployments herald the wider adoption of what will become standard e-business commercial workflow transactions directly integrating Halliburton’s back-office ERP systems with its customers.


Halliburton’s Peter Bernard said, “By using these new standards, Halliburton is leveraging new technology to automate the ordering, invoicing and payment processes, resulting in improved accuracy, efficiency and contract compliance.”

Commerce Central

System-to-system integration of commercial documents lets clients view and download proposals, field tickets, job status reports and invoices from a new ‘Commerce Central’ community on the Portal.

StringView well drafting upgrade

Antech’s StringView adds functions to well design, drafting and visualization.

AnTech Oilfield Software has released a major upgrade to its StringView Millennium well design and visualization program. StringView produces custom reports and diagrams for a range of wells.

Custom icons

The upgrade supports integrated tool editing; users can create custom icons from scratch or by modifying an existing tool from the StringView library. A parametric search facility allows users to search for tools using any of the tool’s properties - for example a search can be made for all tools with an OD of 3”.


AnTech MD Toni Miszewski said, “StringView Millennium offers greater speed and an expanded range of capabilities, while retaining its ability to integrate with existing applications. Well engineers can now produce diagrams and reports faster and with greater originality.”


Other enhancements make the software easier to use and printing is faster. ‘Snap-to-grid’ makes for accurate placement of tool strings and user data can be extracted from an existing database and combined with the component library. Users can create well component images from their own engineering drawings.

Stellent Content Management for BP Oil

Stellent software offers BP Oil ‘drag and drop’ intranet content management.

BP Oil has deployed Stellent’s Content Management System (CMS) to support its Integrated Supply and Trading (IST) unit. The IST’s 2,000 employees are tasked with the trading, shipping and supply of BP’s energy business around the world. The new intranet project will communicate the department’s business strategy to internal audiences and provide the information and tools needed to meet corporate goals.


BP Oil’s Federico Malatesta said, “The CMS will maximize the effectiveness of team skills by enabling business users to publish their own content, allowing technical staff to focus on site infrastructure. Stellent lets us standardize our content templates to maintain consistent design control and branding across the department, while leaving the business user substantial flexibility in publishing content. This empowerment reduces web site development and maintenance costs and improves the frequency of information updates on the intranet.”


Stellent EAME VP Bryan Richter added, “BP Oil has created a powerful tool that can drive the performance of a major division. This implementation is an excellent example of how Stellent’s solutions are providing real value quickly by allowing users to easily publish content themselves, freeing up technical staff to focus on higher-value initiatives.”

Drag and drop

Stellent’s WebDAV functionality lets users drag and drop files into the CMS. Content can be submitted via familiar interfaces such as Microsoft Word and Excel, encouraging take-up. Stellent CMS provides a unified product architecture for web content management, document management, collaboration, records and digital asset management.

IndX XHQ for NAM’s contract dashboard

NAM manages volatile contracts with a customized operations intelligence solution from IndX.

Shell/Exxon joint venture Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) has chosen IndX Software Corp’s XHQ real time operations intelligence application as the basis of a customized solution for gas contract management. Work on the contract management dashboard began in January 2003. The joint NAM/IndX development displays current, past and future (plan) data for each contract.


NAM selected the IndX solution after extensive evaluation because of its ability to integrate information from databases and data warehouses with real-time process data. XHQ solutions render volatile business and operations data aggregated from multiple disparate sources as highly informative graphics to thousands of users throughout these businesses.


Leigh Hunt, IndX director of operations, EMEA said, “Despite the fact that this wasn’t a typical plant application, IndX was able to configure XHQ to meet NAM’s requirements. We delivered a real-time contract management solution that makes it easy for NAM’s users to comprehend events that affect their ability to fulfill gas contracts, and to take actions that maintain revenue and avoid contractual penalties. NAM implemented the conrtact management system in response to the challenges of a deregulated gas market. Increased commercial complexity required a real-time contract management capability.

Aspen gets $100 million cash from Advent

Aspen Tech’s Hysys facilty modeling software integrates with Schlumberger’s Pipesim.

Aspen Technology, Inc. has announced new functionality in its Hysys modeling software. A new upstream option will enable companies to simulate and optimize their upstream asset including wells, flowlines and facilities.


Aspen VP Manolis Kotzabasakis said, “By working closely with global leaders in upstream technology, we have been able to create a comprehensive solution that combines the best-in-class Hysys modeling with leading third party technologies.” The Hysys upstream option uses Black Oil modeling and PVT Analysis to predict production behavior and to integrate reservoir characterization with the process facility.


Asset-wide modeling capability is made possible by providing runtime interfaces to specialized well and flowline modeling tools. This capability enables Hysys 3.2 to be integrated with Schlumberger’s engineering tool, Pipesim.

$100 million

Aspen recently received a $100 million cash injection from private equity firm Advent International. Aspen will use the cash to retire existing preferred stock, repurchase convertible subordinated debentures and fund working capital. Advent will have the right to appoint up to four of the nine directors on AspenTech’s board of directors.

FTC challenge

The company is currently fighting a Federal Trade Commission challenge to its 2002 acquisition of Hyprotech from AEA Technologies. The FTC asserts that the acquisition ‘lessens competition’.

Michael Dell visits CGG Houston

Michael Dell presents award for research excellence to CGG for work on cluster-based HPC.

Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell presented CGG chairman and CEO Robert Brunck with the prestigious ‘Dell Center for Research Excellence’ award earlier this month. The ceremony was held in CGG’s Houston data processing center.


CGG is the first corporate organization to receive the Dell award which acknowledges CGG’s innovative use of high-performance computing cluster (HPCC) technology in the field of seismic imaging for oil and gas exploration and production. Dell said, “CGG is a pioneer in its field and has demonstrated that the strategic use of standardized supercomputing can deliver cost and performance benefits for commercial applications. CGG has proved that standards-based systems are scalable, powerful and the best technology investment in the long-term to provide leading-edge service and maintain competitive advantage.”

3,000 node

CGG deploys a 3,000-node Dell PowerEdge cluster in its US headquarters in Houston with another 512-node cluster in Foxboro, UK. Worldwide, CGG claims over 30 Teraflops compute capacity.


Robert Brunck added, “The geophysical industry has consistently been at the forefront of efforts to push back the limits of computing capacity and it therefore gives me considerable personal pleasure to see our industry being recognized and to see CGG being rewarded as a computer pioneer in this way.”

ChevronTexaco opens high tech center

ChevronTexaco has opened an ‘i-field’ R&D center at the University of Southern California.

ChevronTexaco and the University of Southern California are to establish the Center for Interactive Smart Oilfield Technologies (CiSoft). The Center will develop advanced technologies to improve exploration and production efficiency.


Max Nikias, dean of Engineering said, “Through this partnership, ChevronTexaco and USC hope to create an exceptional learning environment for engineering students while accelerating the development of advanced oil field technologies.”


ChevronTexaco will provide funding for the center, which will draw upon expertise and resources within the USC School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute, the Integrated Media System Center and the Petroleum Engineering Program. CiSoft will target the operation of instrumented, intelligent oil and gas fields. ChevronTexaco employees will directly participate in the program and the company will provide real-world drilling and production data from around the world.


CTC CTO Don Paul added, “The USC School of Engineering has earned distinction for its work in information and communications technology, advanced visualization and petroleum engineering. Adding energy to the strong relationships the school has with the defense and entertainment industries will make this a unique environment for developing new technologies for real-time engineering and operations.”


CiSoft will form an integral component of ChevronTexaco’s i-field program, which is focused on the integration of field automation, reservoir simulation technologies, emerging well technologies, and real-time reservoir management. CiSoft’s co-executive directors will be Mike Hauser, i-field program manager at ChevronTexaco Exploration and Production Technology Company, and Iraj Ershaghi, USC professor of chemical engineering and director of the Petroleum Engineering Program.

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