May 1997

GeoForum 97 (May 1997)

The European GeoQuest User Group meeting held in Prague last month was attended by around 300 delegates from Western Europe and the CIS. It was an opportunity for GeoQuest to outline its strategic directions, particularly a reorganisation of the Finder Data Management system, which is covered in this month's editorial, and also for users to relate their successes with GeoQuest products, and also occasionally to blast off at GeoQuest with both barrels for failing to give less that total satisfaction in some domain or another.

In the latter category, Barbara Michalek of BEB, the German Shell/Esso joint venture, described their experience installing and working with GeoFrame. In a very entertaining talk, Michalek likened GeoFrame to a fairy-tale monster, "Powerful, beautiful, they smile at you and then they have you for dinner!". BEB seems have survived this experience but have had a rough ride as an early adopter of this technology. Working primarily with petrophysical interpretation, various problems were encountered, not least those involved in migrating to and managing the new UNIX environment, and the complex inter-relationships between GeoQuest software, Oracle and the operating system. Migration from the legacy Schlumberger LOGOS product proved a painful process but strong support from GeoQuest during this process pulled BEB through. Michalek in common with other GeoQuest users was very keen on the establishment of a Bulletin Board, where users could post and share experiences. A Schlumberger source, commenting on the software monster analogy stated that GeoFrame was complex software in its youth, that users, while inevitably experiencing teething troubles were – deep down inside – confident in the size and strength of the Schlumberger organisation, whose Oilfield Services department has a $300 million R&D budget, while GeoQuest boasts 400 plus software engineers. "It will work".

Bespoke development

The high point of the conference for many data managers was not a mainstream GeoQuest product, but a bespoke development for Sonatrach. Salah Mekmouche described how, after making the move from their legacy MWDB/Atlantis workstation to Finder, Sonatrach Production wanted a user friendly graphical interface which would hide Oracle forms from non IT users. They also wanted a front end in French, presenting users with localised, familiar terminology. Herve Ganem of GeoQuest came up with the goods in the form of a Wab Browser front end for Finder. This provides a fully functional access to the power of Finder, with a point and click intuitive interface, with the added benefits accrued through the use of Web based technology, not the least being a solid, easily managed multi-platform client server deployment. A spectacular demonstration of the technology ensued with Ganem programming from scratch a web browser capable of generating an interactive map, which allowed the user to select wells from which a cross section was generated on the fly. In a few minutes, pausing only to explain some of the intricacies of the methods involved, the fully functional applet was up and running.

Front Page

What we appreciated most about this demo was the way in which the "big iron" technology of Finder was being opened up and made more useful by a simple add-on, in this case Microsoft's Front Page. A $150 program offering massive leverage in an environment like this. Intriguingly, this web front end for Finder is a completely separate development from GeoWeb – the official GeoQuest Web front end. The latter, at first glance appears a much less interesting approach to the same problem. GeoWeb utilises the client server paradigm of the web to provide world wide access to the corporate data store, but does not offer anything like as much scope for in-house customisation and openness. The demonstration of the Sonatrach Web Browser is an example of a variety of similar joint developments between Schlumberger and its clients.


Agip's GisForall (a Finder-like E&P GIS) and Total's DocXplo E&P document management system are both being deployed and maintained by GeoQuest and offer interesting comparisons with the mainstream GeoQuest product line.

David Feineman (BP exploration) described how an analysis of the workflow involved in subsurface analysis enabled BP to specify and deploy a complete software and hardware implementation for their Algerian joint venture with Sonatrach to appraise in record time seven tight reservoir gas accumulations in Algeria's District 3. The allotted time frame of 2 years and the intensive drilling activity (2-3 concurrent drilling rigs) meant that some slick planning was required to specify a suitable the IT infrastructure.


The primary requirement was for solid "one stop shop" support in a remote and hostile environment. Further analysis was performed using heavy duty Business Process Re-engineering techniques. This involved the following analysis:

An inventory and assessment of the tasks in hand

Process modelling to establish task sequence

Data flow between tasks

Vendor mapping of applications onto workflow


Critical path analysis of the workflow revealed many potential bottlenecks in both structural interpretation and reservoir modelling. Portfolio selection came up with a best of breed selection of applications suited to the task, and adapted to the speedy solution of the critical path bottlenecks. Conclusions of the study were

More than 100 tasks were required in the appraisal workflow

Structural framework definition and 3D modelling both fell on critical paths – so had to be performed quickly

No single vendor offering provided everything

Too many products were required in the initial specification to be supportable

Support of openness is a critical issue in the multi-vendor environment.

Two defects in existing solutions were identified, Geoshare which was a weak link because of the limited number of data types supported in the different applications and the lack of support for distributed databases.


This major BPR project took around 6 man months to achieve and revealed that the combination of hardware and software best suited for an asset team was highly dependent on the job in hand. Another interesting aspect of the solution was that, contrary to many presentations of the asset team's workflow, this was a highly linear process. The results of the structural interpretation ware passed on to the modellers who in turn pass their results to the simulators. No fooling around with multi-disciplinary iterations in this New BP go-faster high pressure environment!

Despite the interest shown elsewhere in customized solutions, many Finder users have discovered that this can lead them collectively into something of an impasse. The problem is that when it comes to migrate from one version to the next, instead of just plugging in the installation tape, the process involves reprogramming a number of bespoke developments with no guarantee that they will work satisfactorily in the new environment. This has led to the establishment of a EuroFinder Special Interest Group, whose goal is to formalize the process of requesting, developing and eventually incorporating into Finder, such developments as might be useful to a majority of clients. For more information contact Peter Webb of GeoQuest who is heading this initiative.

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Scott Pickford’s Norwegian Database (May 1997)

Scott Pickford has just announced the launch of a new multi-client products the Norwegian Facies Knowledgebase (NFK).

The NFK project is sponsored by Deminex Norge, Statoil, Conoco Norway and the NPD whose Director of Exploration, Finn Aamodt said "NFK is a concept that NPD wishes to support. We are contributing data and financial commitment to NFK. The facies knowledgebase will create a better basis from which technical studies can develop both within the NPD and by Exploration Companies". NFK will supply a digital depositional facies analysis of the interval from Top Miocene to TD for 256 wells located in the Norwegian North Sea south of Latitude 59 degrees. Over the next couple of years the project is scheduled to cover the whold of the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Total project worth is estimated at 10 million NOK.

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Are we any closer to the ‘plug and play’ ideal? (May 1997)

Neil McNaughton attends the Schlumberger-GeoQuest annual european user meeting ‘GeoForum’, tours the town, previews Finder 8 and checks out interoperability in practice.

In Prague's old town square there is a remarkable fifteenth century clock which displays apparent planetary motion (tough using a geocentric paradigm!), three different time systems (Old Czech time with 24 hours starting at dawn, Babylonian time with seasonally varying length hours and "modern" time) and a complex calendar. The 300 plus delegates at GeoQuest's Forum 97 event had the opportunity, between lectures, user group meetings and drinking sessions to observe this wonder and reflect on this early example of a GUI whose patrons, instead of messing with a non disclosure agreement, blinded Master Hanus the maker, rather than let him reproduce his marvel elsewhere.

Plug and play??

Such reflections may have led some to see the merit of a "standard" world where one time system has replaced the three used in Prague in the middle ages, and standards were indeed the leitmotiv of the GeoForum97 conference. Schlumberger has revamped its data modeling offering and it pulling out all the stops to impress on its users that its new product line is entirely POSC compliant and will allow for plug and play "real soon now". Well it is quite a while since we heard of plug and play in the E&P software field. Personally I have not heard those words since 1995, when following their widespread use, and total absence of any demonstration of the concept, there ensued considerable backtracking.

Shared Earth Model

So what do we have today, and how near are we to plug and play? First lets examine what we mean by plug and play, and what applications we might expect to benefit from this technology. We are fortunate here, because many speakers have vaunted the merits of a shared earth model, allowing applications to share the same dataset, more recently, we have heard of Business Objects which would allow seamless inter-application communication of data. Similarly, the virtues of being able to use "best of breed" software have been much promoted. What then do we expect to plug and play with what? Well plug and play can be implemented on various levels and with greater or lesser scope. One plug and play type scenario could mirror the PC world where for instance, Microsoft owns the OS (Windows), all the main applications (Office), but still facilitates plug and play with other vendor applications through dynamic data sharing technologies such as OLE. In E&P the absolutely obvious first candidates for plugging and playing with each other are applications from GeoQuest and its main competitor, Landmark Graphics Corporation. So having established the theoretical objectives of the plug and play shared earth model, lets take a close look at how GeoQuest's latest offerings.

Checkered history

Finder has had a long and checkered history. Finder Graphics Systems (FGS) originated as a US focussed lease and well mapping tool, but demonstrated from its earliest days what could be achieved by linking a map to a relational database. FGS was one of the founding members of the Public Petroleum Data Model, and it was the PPDM Version 1 which formed the core of the Finder product. The company was bought by CGG-Petrosystems in the mid 80's, but did not find a home there and CGG sold Finder on to Schlumberger GeoQuest in the late 80s. Geoquest then set about developing Finder into a data management system. Its role in the Schlumberger product line changed around quite a bit until 1996 when it began to be presented as the hub of the GeoQuest product line, becoming a data delivery tool accessing data in the database product line (LogDB, SeisDB etc.) and building project databases for the applications. At this time, Finder was still running on the PPDM data model with proprietary extensions termed N-Lists for rapid retrieval of bulk data (well logs and cultural features). Some of GeoQuest's larger clients (and more importantly potential clients) had invested heavily in the POSC, and there was considerable pressure at this time on vendors to provide POSC compliant solutions. Geoquest set to work on this at two levels. Internally all new developed software (and notably GeoFrame) was to be designed as "POSC compliant", and they joined the collaborative effort, the Discovery project, whose goal was to develop a subset of Epicentre to model seismic data in what was supposed to be a merger of the POSC and PPDM data models. Well Discovery has been grinding on now for around about a year without exactly setting the world on fire. Meanwhile, GeoQuest has to keep on rolling out that "POSC compliant" software and has, in effect, gone it alone with what amounts to a take-over of POSC!

API oblige

Now we have already been here before, in the October PDM we revealed that interoperability within the GeoFrame environment would be limited to those who bought into GeoQuest's proprietary API, and that Landmark was not exactly first in line to acquire their main competitor's technology. Although GeoQuest offer their API as a means of developing POSC compliant software, this is something of an exaggeration, and a far cry from the open world which POSC was aiming for initially. After all POSC compliance should mean that other software should be able to talk directly to the data model, not go through an API.

But lets get back to Finder and look some more at GeoQuest's developing data management solution. Some radical re-packaging has been going on here, and the result is somewhat confusing. The hub between the database product line and GeoFrame is now termed "Enterprise", which is described as a federating database of metadata. Now you may find this terminology familiar, it should be, it is exactly how Finder was being marketed a year or so ago. In fact Enterprise was described by some as "what we thought we were buying when we bought Finder". In the same vein, GeoQuest a "new" LogDB to Finder functionality. It may be new software, but this is pretty long in the tooth vapourware by now!

Finder 8

Finder 8, the latest version of the products has now been divided up into a legacy component (still PPDM-ish) called Finder Kernel, and "extensions" – Production and Well Construction (tubulars, cement and the like) which are proudly trumpeted as being "fully POSC compliant". Although in the same breath GeoQuest announce here that, since the POSC production model was considered lacking, they had to extend it themselves. They are literally writing the book here, like I said it is a take-over!

Finder 8 innovations include Graphical Entity Mapping System (GEMS) which makes Finder behave more like a true GIS. GEMS allows user defined attributes to be attached to graphical features so that more powerful and customisable search and display functionality is now possible. Instead of geo-attributes being "hard-wired" into Finder – such as licence information, they can now be customised so that a given user may attach information on pipeline ownership or capacity and suchlike.


Enterprise has another little built-in "gotcha". Unlike other database federating technologies such as ODBC (which incidentally GeoQuest uses extensively in its PC product line) Enterprise relies on proprietary "hooks" which must be inserted into the databases to which it is going to talk. This was spotted as a less than perfect solution to interoperability, in that, just as our application programmers have to customise their software to the GeoQuest API, third party database vendors will have to incorporate the GeoQuest hooks into their products to be Enterprise enabled. Thus while a vendor of a specialised database system dealing with say geochemistry may be prepared to jump through this particular hoop, IBM may be less than delighted to have their clients asking them to incorporate their major competitor's technology into PetroBank. This is likely to develop into a major issue for Finder/Enterprise clients who really do want to see all their data at one go, not an unreasonable requirement after all.

A common pattern is emerging here, and it does not say "Open System"! What is more likely happening in the real world is that there are "poles" of software families developing respectively, grouped around IBM, LGC and GQ. They will likely have to be able to talk to each other using one kind of link or another, but commercial pressures will mean that these links will not be at the cutting edge of technology. Products such as GeoShare, and techniques such as ASCII file transfer, reformatters and scripts have a long life ahead of them after all, and behind the razzmatazz, it is pretty much the status quo for the harassed data manager.

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What exactly is an API? (May 1997)

An Application Programming Interface, or API is essentially a library of subroutines which can be sold as an interface around which a third party developer can access the essential features of the vendors applications, or in this case, database. The API is a rather clunky old way of making programs inter-operate, requiring considerable tweaking and customisation to achieve inter-operation. A more desirable way of achieving the same thing would be to have a truly standard data model, with standardised, documented practices for accessing it. This would allow each developer to work independently, rather than to buy into, and to comply with a proprietary API.

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Mincom offers Geolog6 on NT platform (May 1997)

Brisbane based software developer Mincom have released their petrophysical analysis software GEOLOG6 on a Windows NT 3.5 & 4.0 platform.

The NT release offers identical functionality and interface as the already established production releases of GEOLOG6 on Solaris and SGI platforms, through development of common code. Data movement between platforms is accomplished via an export format known as Geolog ASCII. Export of data to and from third party packages may be easily achieved by the use of industry standard file formats including: LIS, DLIS, BIT, SEG-Y, LAS and Flat ASCII. A Geoshare half link will be available for NT in mid-97, enhancing connectivity options into corporate databases. With modest hardware overheads, the NT port of GEOLOG6 should finally bring the power of UNIX workstations into the desktop and portable arena, with the consequential cost and productivity benefits of the PC environment.

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EDM: How this Technology Relates to You (May 1997)

Al McDougall from Auto-trol Technology (Canada) Ltd. has contributed this article which explains the practical application of Document Management Systems (DMS) to E&P data management. Auto-trol is the vendor of the horizontal (cross-industry) document management system Centra 200; now linked to the PPDM data model.

"When you're up to your neck in alligators, it's hard to remember your objective is to drain the swamp!" OOPS! Today, in our environmentally conscious world, we need to re-write this: "When you're up to your neck in alligators, it's hard to remember your objective is not to drain the swamp!" We now see the world differently, due to a clearer understanding of inter-relationships. What do alligators and swamps have to do with petroleum data management? Everyone writes about the alligators - the huge volumes of new data being generated every day. But we need to manage more than data. To obtain a better understanding, we need to manage the relationships between pieces of information. Knowledge consists largely of understanding relationships.


Technology can often aid in seeing information more clearly, and thinking about it differently. For example, reservoir studies benefited from SEM image technology. We now better understand relationships between reservoir quality, completion techniques, and production. We have built up knowledge. SEM technology helped change how we think about reservoirs, and how we plan reservoir development. Information management technology likewise shows promise of changing how we view related pieces of information, plan workflows, and make decisions. Use of existing information is key to better interpretations of newly acquired data. The petroleum industry is adopting Information Management technology which is changing how companies access and safeguard information. This technology, originally developed for the space industry, is called Electronic Data Management (EDM).


Selection of EDM technology by companies such as Woodside, NOVA, and DynMcDermott demonstrates the world-wide applicability of this powerful solution. Woodside Offshore Petroleum Pty Ltd. of Perth, Australia, selected CENTRA 2000 (combined with the PPDM model and Geostation) for their Geoscience Database Project, to manage Woodside's wealth of Exploration data and information (see related press release). NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. operates Alberta's 13,300-mile-long, high pressure pipeline, which is one of the world's most technologically advanced gas transportation systems. NOVA selected CENTRA 2000 to provide access, manage, and control active and released drawings. DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations Company, a U.S. Department of Energy prime contractor responsible for managing the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, selected CENTRA 2000 to manage the huge volume of documents relating to this national petroleum resource.


Key aspects of a full function EDM System include:

Object Management

Folder Based Hierarchy

Search by Multiple Methods

Document Linking

Role Based Security

Check In/Out

Application Launching

Graphical Workflow

Application Programming Interface

Industry Standard RDBMS

Vaulted and Non-Vaulted Environments

Compound Document Management

EDM is bridging the gap from today's PPDM data model to the day when the "ultimate" data model is available. A geographic interface, accessing both "structured" data such as well tops in the PPDM model, and also "unstructured" information such as well reports, SEG-Y files, and maps is a key requirement. Geoscientists can then view related information easily. EDM is changing how we relate information today and how we plan for tomorrow. Visit Auto-trol's web site for more information.

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Little and large get together (May 1997)

In a strange marriage a giant (Schlumberger) has teamed up with a freeware derived minnow (Pretty Good Privacy, Inc.) – why?

Public key cryptography, where the time consuming factoring of extremely large prime numbers is used as a tool for highly secure communications and commercial transactions is a widely publicised and public tool. In many countries it contravenes defence secrecy legislation (strong cryptography is considered as either a state secret, or equated to a "weapon"). But it is a key element in turning the Internet into a secure environment and allowing both secure net commerce and secure Intranets. Pretty Good Privacy, Inc. , described as the world's leading provider of digital-privacy software, and Schlumberger Electronic Transactions, the leading supplier of smart cards and systems, have announced a strategic alliance agreement for development and marketing of integrated network security products. The companies will develop and market products that integrate PGP's powerful and trusted encryption technology with cryptographic smart cards from Schlumberger. The combined products will provide the highest levels of communications security across corporate intranets and the global Internet, coupled with the convenience of a smart card.


Schlumberger's CryptoflexTM smart card, announced late last fall, will be used in the product offering. A smart card, which is a small plastic card the size of a credit card and embedded with an integrated circuit chip, stores information and can be used for such applications as network security, mobile telephone communications, electronic banking, retail shopping and much more. The Cryptoflex card is a specialized version that supports cryptographic functions, such as key and digital certificate storage and digital signatures, all of which can be used to secure electronic mail and other communications.

Pretty good..

Pretty Good Privacy's encryption software is now used by millions of individuals and has become the de facto standard for private digital communications. The company released its first commercial product, PGPmail 4.5, in February, 1997, and has since released products for disk encryption, Internet phone encryption and a Web-based privacy product that filters "cookie" files. "Schlumberger's products give users of PGP encryption the portability and convenience of smart card technology," said Tom Steding, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pretty Good Privacy. "Now you can carry your PGP keys as easily as you carry your credit cards." "No longer do people have to choose between security and convenience," said James J. Davis, vice president and general manager of Schlumberger Smart Cards and Systems, North America. "PGP's trusted encryption technology is a perfect complement to the convenience of our new Cryptoflex smart card. The combination of public key encryption and smart card technology provides the strongest and most convenient security and digital authentication available."


PGP's trusted encryption technology brings the highest levels of security to digital communications. Without the use of encryption technology, digital information is vulnerable to break-in or interception. Encryption technology "scrambles" data, and ensures that information can only be accessed by the intended recipient. Stored on a smart card, keys are secure because smart cards have built-in security features and are tamper-resistant. In addition, the keys can be carried in the wallet or purse of the user.

The alliance will enable Pretty Good Privacy and Schlumberger to work more closely on the seamless integration of encryption technology into smart cards, so that the data encryption and decryption process will be transparent to the user and simple to use. The agreement will also permit sharing of certain technical information, as well as consulting, joint marketing and promotional activities.

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PDVSA and GeoQuest Sign Service Agreement (May 1997)

GeoQuest has signed a service agreement for the management of PDVSA's exploration and production (E&P) integrated applications and data environment.

"The choice of GeoQuest is a strategic decision that allows us to perform a technological jump and obtain the needed level of services to meet the challenges that confront our company," said Juan Szabo, coordinator for E&P for PDVSA. GeoQuest will be responsible for the database management, data delivery and applications support to PDVSA and its affiliates. Services will be delivered from 17 different sites throughout Venezuela. PDVSA's business plan calls for the company to double production capacity to 6.2 million BOPD over the next 10 years. To do this, Venezuela has opened the oil industry to foreign investors and is working to optimize processes and the use of resources. "The implementation of a quality E&P information management program, which is very important for the oil industry due to the exponential increase of data that modern technology makes available to the geoscientists, is crucial to Venezuela due to the opening of the oil industry to foreign investment," said Alberto Nicoletti, vice president of GeoQuest Latin America. "GeoQuest will be providing the technology, consulting and technical support to help PDVSA implement its corporate strategy to achieve substantial improvements in productivity and to increase its competitive advantage."


The supported environment comprises two main components. First is a common database for PDVSA and its affiliates, where all information generated from the exploration, the production and the reservoir characterization is stored and managed. This common database solution is being implemented using the GeoQuest Finder data management system. The second component involves the integration of specialized applications required to support the different processes in E&P, such as seismic interpretation, geological analysis and production engineering. Szabo pointed out that the established relationship with GeoQuest is a win-win situation. "PDVSA will work together with GeoQuest, keeping the objective to constantly increase the quality of data services and applications and also the quality of the processes that manage

information, which will consequently bring significant increases in productivity," he said.

Single contact

The service contract was signed by Szabo and Nicoletti. Also present were Claus Graf, vice president of PDVSA, Gustavo Inciarte, director of PDVSA, Nelson Nava, chief information officer of PDVSA, Rex Ross, president of GeoQuest and Magne Sveen, vice president of Operations for GeoQuest. As called for by this service agreement, GeoQuest is the single point of contact and is responsible for the services related to the integrated applications and data environment. In addition, GeoQuest is teaming with INTESA, a joint venture between SAIC and PDVSA, to deliver infrastructure support and to organize and manage help desk operations. PDVSA's charter is the development of petroleum, petrochemical and coal industries for the Republic of Venezuela. Its main objective is planning, co-ordinating and supervising and controlling the activities of its subsidiaries, both in Venezuela and abroad.

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2D modeling software revival (May 1997)

Midland Valley has recreated its 2D modeling product line, including 2D mod, to produce a piece of analysis software accessible to both the generalist and more advanced user.

The company says the range of data import/export bridges and modeling tools has been increased and new functionality reflects both leading-edge algorithm development and expanding needs in project handling. The important new inclusion is a full cinematic flexural flow algorithm which, the company claims, represents a major step beyond existing geometric techniques. The algorithm is the result of a collaborative RB D project between Midland Valley and the University of Keele for the market-leading 3D analysis program 3DMove, supported by eight major oil companies and the UK Department of Technology and Industry OSO through the LINK program. The algorithms developed in the project are a full 3D approach to modeling rock deformation through flexural flow. A subset of these have been taken for 2D analysis in the redesign of 2DMove as an integrated part of Midland Valley's product range, centered around 3DMove.


This means that the 2D product is positioned to take full advantage of the new 3D technology and to maintain an evolving upgrade path with a workflow route into full 3D where required. 2DMove will be delivered as an upgrade to existing 2D software users, available on PCs, Sun and Silicon Graphics workstations. Maximum platform flexibility is provided with no cost portability and with network licensing. A new reduced price structure also means that networking, multiple seat and academic deals will increase access to the software at minimal additional cost to the end user. According to Midland Valley, the new 2DMove represents a major step forward in structural technology, integrating upwards to a full 3D capability and positioned in price and availability to suit academic and consulting groups as well as industry users.

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Pohlman’s new Data Management Report (May 1997)

Pohlman International Inc. Have just announced the availability of what is described as 'A comprehensive survey of oil industry data management practices and software'.

This report, a new volume in the Pohlman series is based upon "impartial surveys of end user oil companies and software developers. Four key areas are addressed as follows:

Definition of terms in the data management area

Determine Oil Company best practices in data management

Establish metrics which "validly discriminate" between competing products in the data management arena

Apply the consensus metrics to the commercial products now available in the data management arena.

For more info contact Pohlman on (1) 702 787 1700.


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Petroconsultants’ future plans (May 1997)

Petroconsultants announce extensions to IRIS21 and a roadmap to an Arclnfo based fully integrated Geographical Information System (GIS). In the run in to the EAGE to be held in Geneva from 26th to 30th May, Geneva-based Petroconsultants are pulling out all the stops with a multitude of product and concepts centered on their IRIS21 relational data management system.

Following the acquisition of Petroconsultants by Colorado based Information Handling Services (IHS) - featured in the Oct 96 PDM, Petroconsultants has been encouraged to move further along the path of supplying all digital data to its clients. Recognizing that previous incarnations of IRIS21 have not always been easy to use, Petroconsultants have released three "user friendly" routes into IRIS21. Concepts21 (now delivered with IRIS21) is a task driven interface which simplifies data extraction. The latest version of PROBE (3.50) allows for statistical analysis of data in IRIS21 and export to other mapping packages. PetroWorld21 V3.0 now incorporates ArcView for GIS based data selection. Petroconsultants are currently working with ESRI (Arclnfo) to roll out a brand new interface to IRIS21 using the innovative Spatial Database Engine(SDE). This technology, jointly developed by ESRI and Oracle allows spatial data to be stored efficiently within an Oracle relational database. Queries can be performed on geographical attributes and spatial (or even- dimensional) vector data returned to the application without a) the performance hit associated with storing such data in regular tables or b) resorting to bespoke developments such as the N-Lists found in Finder.

Benchmark please!

Of course potential users of this technology would be well advised to look for some benchmark data before jumping in on this new technology. If is does work as ESRI claim, then ERP users will have the added assurance of using "generic" technology with a wider user base. Other innovations in the Petroconsultants product line include a document database containing all reports and documents produced by Petroconsultants Foreign Scouting Service. This is designed to offer improved delivery of these products by Inter/Intranet and on CD-ROM. In addition to text, Petroconsultants are opening up their database to include physical inventory (sections, logs, tapes etc..) allowing for the overlay of "strategic E & P data" on the physical exploration assets held by a company or third party. The foregoing serves as a pointer to the "shape of things to come".

Stiff competition

The existing IRIS21 extensions are to be repackaged as follows.

Pscope21 designates interfaces to the IRIS21 data management system, to be offered in both UNIX and NT flavors.

Pmap21 is the SDE integration with IRIS21 using the ArcView 3 GIS.

Pdoc21 is the new document database,

PLink21 designates links to physical asset databases owned by client oil companies.

These developments combine to position IRIS21 as a direct competitor to products such as Finder from GeoQuest and Landmark's "Finder Killer", Open Explorer. While Petroconsultants may have a hard time competing with these systems as data delivery tools to GeoFrame and Open Works, they do have a significant installed base, and are also well placed in the fields of database population, and maintenance. The acquisition of a data management system pre- loaded with relevant information from Petroconsultants Foreign Scouting Service must look an attractive starting point for a newcomer into the brave new world of all-digital E8 P.

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CDA award first tranche of seismic phase to group led by PECC and Hardcopy phase to Spectrum. (May 1997)

CGG pulls off coup with Common Data Acces’ choice of PetroVision as data management system for the seismic data management phase of the UK Oil Industry’s shared data repository.

CGG PetroSystems must be feeling pretty pleased with their recent acquisition of Petroleum Exploration Computer Consultants (PECC) featured in the January PDM. Not only have they acquired an experienced service company, active in the currently active field of legacy data remastering, but their PetroVision data management product has beaten off stiff competition from IBM and GeoQuest to win the first tranche of the seismic phase of the Common Data Access Ltd. (CDA) project. Partners in this success are QC Data (already masterminding the Well Log Phase) and Stephenson and Associates. This tranche of the project calls for the establishment of a positional database for UK seismic and cultural data prior to another call for tender looking to populate the bulk seismic dataset.


Stephenson and Associates are to provide data loading services and are to address the thorny problem of entitlements. They intend to be pro-active in this so expect a visit soon. QC Data will provide secure access for CDA members to data in PetroVision through their AXXSES technology, already in use as the front end to LogDB in the well log phase. Meanwhile CDA and QCData have announced that Spectrum Energy and Information Technology has been chosen as preferred hard copy services provider for the cataloguing, rationalization and scanning of UK Continental Shelf well logs. The contract is to be issued by QCData who currently manage CDA'a digital well log system and who will enhance the current installation to incorporate the hard copy data provided by Spectrum.

6500 wells

The plan is for Spectrum to build up, over a two year period, a complete master hard copy of well logs and associated reports into the CDA database for the 6500 wells drilled on the UKCS to date. The anticipated payoff will be the rationalization of multiple copies of this data currently held by oil companies. It is estimated that there are currently 2 million items stored by oil companies working the UKCS, this should reduce to 250,000 items with the CDA project. At the same time a unique master hard copy dataset will be established. Cost and efficiency benefits of this rationalization are described as "significant". In addition to the establishment of the catalogue, Spectrum are to scan the rationalized hard copy dataset to produce a complete digital well log and report image database which will link in to the existing online index of digital well data maintained by QC data. Robertson Research will also be working on the project providing project data management expertise and also kick-starting the project by supplying scanned data from their own library of scanned images of key well logs and reports. This fast track should offer data delivery to CDA members shortly after project startup.

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PESGB Data Management SIG (May 1997)

The latest meeting of the PESGB Data Management Special Interest Group was well attended, and kicked off with a backgrounder from Neil McNaughton on the topic of E&P Data formats.

This introduction was essentially a musing on the theme "why don't acquisition contractors supply data in the same formats as used on our workstations?". An E&P data format roadmap – which if we were a standards organisation we would describe as a "strawman" or an "RFC", is enclosed in this month's PDM. The essence of the problem is that our legacy formats have been developed to support performant recording of sequential data in the field, whereas the programmers of workstation software have a different agenda. The PESGB group took up the torch and focused on the thorny old chestnut of a real standard for SEG-Y seismic data. This has been the subject of much effort on the part of the SEG, which is currently looking for more support for a sub committee to work on this project. Hugh Edwards from IBM is now going to approach the UKOOA and the Diskos consortium, who already have got a new SEG-Y standard, with a view to adopting and promoting an acceptable standardised version of SEG-Y capable of handling modern workstation type data. Any interested parties are encouraged to contact Hugh, or Mark Wilson at the PESGB.

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Yet another E&P data management conference (May 1997)

The World Oil Europe E&P Data Management Conference and Exhibition is to be held on the 17-18th June, location The Britannia Hotel, London England. Contact the organizers on (1) 713 520 4430 for more details.

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New ZEH software for Microsystem (May 1997)

ZEH Graphics Systems have just announced a new release of ZEH-PLOT for MicroStation.

Designed for users who need to plot very large graphic files (12MB and up) and who have to handle complex rasterizing ZEH-PLOT also allows users to modify views, fences and Design Files from within MicroStation. ZEH-PLOT can also plot to the MicroStation's Design File format. Another new release from ZEH is the ZPS Design File Submittal Version 2.17 (ZDFS) and the ZPS Design File Interpreter (ZDFI). ZDFS submits a MicroStation Design File to a plot server for interpretation, rasterization and plotting, while ZDFI interprets a Microstation Design File and creates intermediate files that are then passed on for rasterization and plot. The new versions introduce a range of new functions and are up to three times faster than previous releases. Contact ZEH on (1) 281 497 2141.

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