October 1998

IHS GROUP Acquires IEDS and consolidates subsidiaries. (October 1998)

Information Handling Services Group has addedUK-based Integrated Exploration and Development Services (IEDS) to its list ofacquisitions. IEDS now joins PI/Dwights, Petroconsultants, ERICO and MAI Consultants inwhat is described as 'the industry’s primary information partner.'

IEDS’ valiant efforts to raise its profile (see PDM Vol. 3 No. 8) appear to have borne fruit as it has just been snapped up by acquisitive Information Handling Services Group Inc. (IHS). IEDS will join IHS’ Energy Group, hitherto comprising PI/Dwights, Petroconsultants, PI/Erico and MAI Consultants. IEDS’ operations in the UK, Singapore, the USA, and Australia will be added to those of Petroconsultants. IHS Energy Group now boasts over 1000 employees, 4000 customers and around 10,000 users of its products. Chris Meyer, president of IHS Group and chairman of IHS Energy Group, described the primary focus of the combined business as "blending complementary information products and developing new, best-of-breed information tools that add significant value to the exploration and production process and justify the industry’s confidence in IHS Energy Group as their primary information partner."

Standing room only!

Below Meyer, IHS Energy’s Office of the CEO – already a busy place (PDM Vol 3 N 5) – will get even more crowded as Lyndon West and Nick Robinson, directors and co-founders of IEDS join the fray. West and Robinson are to jointly manage IEDS’ and Petroconsultants’ operations and international sales activities. Keith Neal, managing director of Petroleum Information (ERICO) Ltd. in the UK, will assume additional responsibility for the newly-founded Data Logic Services Corp. (DLS) in the US as executive vice president of worldwide custom data management for IHS Energy Group. DLS is PI/Dwight’s data management arm, managing oil company archives and file rooms and operating Business Archives, a commercial well log data archiving service. Keith Doherty will continue in his role as president of IHS Energy Group’s Petroconsultants-MAI international consulting business and Economic Policy and Analysis Group. Neal and Doherty are both members of the Office of the CEO for IHS Energy Group, reporting to Meyer. IHS Group (www.ihsgroup.com) boasts annual sales of $480 million. Subsequent to the acquisition of IEDS, IHS has announced that it will be formally merging the operations of the US based PI/Dwights group with those of Petroconsultants and IEDS. More from www.ihsenergy.com

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Integrated Exploration Systems PetroMod 3D (October 1998)

Integrated Exploration Systems (IES - norelation to IEDS!) with financial support from Amoco, British Gas, Conoco, Norsk Hydro andTexaco has developed a 3D version of its PetroMod geochemical basin modeling tool.

Proselytizing Professor Dietrich Welte has been saying since he founded the company in 1982 that the present distribution of hydrocarbons in a sedimentary basin can only be understood by studying its history as a set of dynamic processes. Welte’s company IES, with principal offices in Houston and Juelich/Germany, provides high-end interpretation and modeling technology for such assessments. PetroMod software performs petroleum systems modeling by creating a digital model of a basin incorporating well and seismic information. The model is then used to analyze hydrocarbon generation, migration and trapping. IES is releasing PetroMod 3D, the industry's ‘first commercial software with full 3D hydrocarbon generation and migration modeling capabilities’.


A prime consideration in modeling such systems is integration with the main industry interpretation environments. IES began by offering direct access to seismic data and interpretations with the PDI/2D a joint development with Landmark Graphics. Subsequently, access to GeoQuest Charisma and IESX has been added and IES claims to be the only third party vendor that ‘fully utilizes software development kits for direct access to Landmark SeisWorks and OpenWorks, as well as to GeoQuest Charisma, IESX and GeoFrame’. Introduced in 1992, PetroMod comprises SeisStrat for geophysical and geological interpretation. PetroGen and PetroFlow, for 2D basin modeling packages, using a claimed unique finite-element based approach.

True 3D

The new product, PetroMod 3D, aims to offer technically advanced 3D modeling technology in a user-friendly package. IES emphasizes that PetroMod is a ‘true’ 3D computation of generation using both flowpath models, and full 3D migration simulators. State-of-the-art multi-component flow modeling has also been implemented. Areas of Interest can be defined in a 3D study area, for example to perform high-resolution simulation runs in restricted areas only, novel full 3D grid sampling techniques are deployed, and parallel processing, for example in workstation clusters, can be used to spread the processing load and reduce simulation times.


During the last year IES has embarked on a drive to acquire new sales, support and service partners and this has already resulted in a distribution agreement with TechSpan Technologies in China. Other deals have been struck with Robertsons for international services and a new partner in Australia to support the local and SE-Asian market. IES has also teamed with software developers Midland Valley in the UK in addition to their long-standing relationships with Landmark Graphics and Schlumberger-GeoQuest. University links have also been strengthened, for example with USC in South Carolina.

Excellent center

An important new development that will have long-term ramifications within the industry is the founding of the first Center of Excellence for Petroleum Systems Modeling together with a group of research and university partners (HARC in Houston, Rice and Texas A&M Universities) together with GeoQuest. The Center will offer training, research and development in the use of Petroleum Systems Modeling in exploration. PetroMod 3D v1.0 will be available in Dec 1998. More from http://www.ies.de.

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Virtual Reality – revolution or rhubarb? (October 1998)

PDM’s editor Neil McNaughton spent someconsiderable time wearing the funny glasses at last month’s SEG conference andlistened to the evangelists. He came away not entirely convinced.

At one moment, alongside a crowd of fellow virtual explorers immersed in the sub-salt section of the Gulf of Mexico I almost believed that maybe there was something beyond the hype, that just perhaps, virtual reality (VR) did have something to offer the E&P community. But that was an ephemeral conversion, after all a good sales pitch is a good sales pitch – there is probably an individual down at your local Chrysler outlet who would at least come near to convincing you that you actually need something as improbable as a utility vehicle to drive down to the mall.

The smellies?

As soon as I took the specs off and began to listen to the increasingly improbable claims from the proponents of VR, I returned quickly to my old skeptical self. Lets first consider what is VR really is. VR should allow the user to perceive computer generated objects in a realistic manner, and to interact with them equally realistically. Note that I say perceive and not ‘view’. Complete VR should ideally involve all of our senses, but technology is such that while computer screens are commonplace, real-time generation of smells is not yet available. Most VR implementations just involve 3D viewing, perhaps with some motion/force feedback device. One product actually offers only 2D viewing, but claims VR-ness because the viewer is inside a hemispherical screen. I have achieved a similar effect by wearing two pairs of (regular) glasses and pushing my nose close to my (2D) monitor.

High pressure

VR may be imitative and attempt to recreate reality, such as the cockpit of a 777 in a flight simulator. VR can equally be analogue, where we can perceive and interact with objects to which we would not ordinarily be exposed. Most E&P applications are in the analogue domain, it is hard to imagine what we would perceive if we were actually down at 5000 m below sea level. Uncomfortable pressure and heat mostly, and of course light doesn’t travel too far through rock. But we are already used to the transparency paradigm that allows us to see partly through 3D volumes of the workstation, or the layered object approach where well bores and selected horizons, faults and so on can be isolated and visualized.

Virtual hammer?

What about the interactivity. I have thought about how to interact with an analogue of a rock, and I must admit that I have not got very far. Hit it with a virtual hammer? Nah. Stroke it to see how rough it is? Nah again. Thrust your hand into the heaving shales. Nope. In fact the only ‘interaction’ that is actually on offer is the walk through and look around. You move within the body of your data, behind fault planes, looking up well bores and so on. This is really very limited ‘VR’ when you think about it, little beyond our current technology. In fact the few ‘feedback’ devices in evidence seem to be used as very unwieldy 3D mice, for pointing and clicking at hard-to-reach floating menus. Some vendors do propose a rather amusing sound interactivity; as we slide down the borehole, a Telstar-like warble modulates as a function of the sonic log velocity.

Dumbing down?

The crucial interactivity is that as you move and turn your head, the scenery adapts in real time and presents you with the required view. Now this is all very well if it were free, but it ain’t. The kit required to perform this sort of exercise is extremely costly. What is worse is that the compute effort involved in adapting to the turning head is so great that it stretches supercomputers to the limit – and I would argue, beyond. In fact to present even a rudimentary 3D moving picture, considerable image quality has to be sacrificed. A good sized workstation screen presents around a million pixels to the viewer (a megapixel). A large – several meter wide - VR display actually makes do with little more than this, that’s all it can handle. Contrast this with the 100 megapixel-up resolution of the lowly inkjet printer and you see that this is really yet another example of the dumbing-down of our data in the cause of IT ‘efficiency’. Additional sacrifices are necessary in terms of color depth, further diluted by the need to feed binocular viewers.

Why bother?

To what end we ask? Actually we did ask, we emailed all the VR vendors and asked them the simple question, "what can you do with VR that was impossible without?" We have not exactly been overwhelmed by the response. In fact, at the SEG’s Visualization workshop, the most telling example of ‘use’ of high powered visualization was the application of very dubious science to what amounted to a grandiose management presentation. And that is unfortunately where most use of VR probably lies – in presentation and sales. Soon it may be de-rigeur to show your prospects to management in this way.

Over the top

Going back to the sales pitch for VR itself I found one claim, of a reduction in cycle time for a 3D survey from 4 weeks to 3 days completely over-the-top. I mean, anyone who could reduce data loading for 3D interpretation by that amount would have the data management equivalent of the philosopher’s stone in their hands. Could we actually be talking about ‘interpreting’ data that has already been .. interpreted?

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Cost Savings claimed for 3D Survey Planning (October 1998)

Tobin International of San Antonio, Texas isproducing 'Digital Ortho Maps' (DOMs) - combining satellite imagery, aerialphotography and quality base maps into a single product.

A Tobin client, Steven J. Sahinen, 3-D Seismic Operations Manager at DDD Energy of Houston says of Tobin’s new mapping technology "Our initial 3D survey design phase involves optimizing resource utilization. We use scanned geo-referenced topographic 7.5 minute USGS quad sheets in a 3-D design package to visualize everything on a topographic base - pipelines, highways, cultural areas, power lines, etc. Since Tobin has provided the Digital OrthoMaps with 1 meter pixels over the project, we can accurately place the shot points in less encumbered areas. By avoiding smaller tracts where the source or receiver lines barely touch the tract, the survey design can be adjusted, reducing the number of permits as well in rural, cultivated areas," he explained. "We offset the receiver locations to decrease the cost of permit agents whenever possible, to better manage receiver locations in culturally dense areas. Up-front utilization of property maps also minimizes compensation to farmers for crop damages due to surface clearing." On a recent 18 square mile project, DDD experienced total cost savings for permits and permitting of $3,040 per square mile. More from Ted.Coffelt@tobin.com.

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Dynamic Graphics Introduces EarthVision 5. (October 1998)

If there had been a meeting of the Society ofPetroleum Engineers in New Orleans, Dynamic Graphics, Inc. would have rolled outEarthVision 5 as planned. But hurricane Georges washed away Chandeleur Island and the SPEand rendered the introduction of EarthVision 5 an appropriately virtual event.

EarthVison 5 includes a Viewer for Windows NT which will provide well site engineers the ability to access geosteering tool data to track drill bit coordinates, using 3-D models. Models created for well planning, using well bore and interpreted seismic data, can be updated during drilling. A data access receiver for real-time MWD and LWD displays, rapid model updating, and a synchronized visualization capability all make for greatly increased drilling safety and accuracy. Improved communication between drill site and office location facilitates team decision making. "With drilling costs under more scrutiny than ever before, EarthVision 5 pulls together 30 years of software experience to deliver engineers a new tool for improving project performance," explains Art Paradis, president of Dynamic Graphics, Inc. More from http://www.dgi.com

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Paras and Exprodat form alliance. (October 1998)

Business Process specialist Paras and theE&P IT consultancy Exprodat are to create what they describe as ‘the mostcomprehensive independent strategy and information management consultancy for the E&Pbusiness’.

The two UK-based companies claim an in-depth understanding of the tools and technologies employed by the E&P business. Their complementary portfolios assist clients in improving their E&P performance through the alignment of processes, people and information technology with business objectives. More from www.exprodat.com and www.paras.co.uk.

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Visualization and VR – PDM reviews the state of the art (October 1998)

PDM trolled the exhibition floor at the NewOrleans SEG, attended some talks and a post convention workshop on the Future of 3DSeismic Visualization. Virtual Reality may give you great insight into your seismicdataset but taking notes inside the CAVE is pretty tricky, especially with the funnyglasses. The following is what we managed to decipher from the scribbling..

The hot topic at the SEG’s annual conference and exhibition was the arrival of a multitude of offerings in the realm of Virtual Reality (VR). Several vendors on the exhibition floor were showing their virtual wares and VR, together with visualization was the focus of a half-day post conference workshop. For an iconoclastic overview see this month’s editorial; for a less impassioned discussion of the topic, read on.

What’s VR really used for?

Mons Midttun (Norsk Hydro Research Center) in his paper "A VR system for interdisciplinary petroleum exploration and production" explained that natural hand movements could be used to ‘slice through 3D data efficiently’ and to follow well tracks intuitively. Midttun believes that working with the Cave gives an intuitive presentation of complex data and allows different disciplines to share data more effectively. Current focus is on well planning, and spans geology, geophysics, reservoir engineering and drilling. A 3D mouse with 6 degrees of freedom allows for complex interaction with data. Hydro’s research center is testing the several tools for 3D VR interpretation such as the Volume Window Tool (VWT). The VWT allows for the visualization of semi-transparent sub-volumes (such as channel sands in the reservoir). A novel technique, ‘region growing’ can be performed by seeding a data point in a 3D volume, generating an autopick of neighboring localities with similar property values. Precise picking of points along a proposed well trajectory can be achieved in 3D.


Hardware is one limiting factor and necessitates some compromises in terms of rendering performance. A Silicon Monster Reality machine boasting 16 RISC CPU’s, 4 graphic pipelines and 4GB of RAM is used. The maximum 64MB of texture memory is another constraint for the VR research team. Hydro’s VR installation will be used for well planning and geo-steering on the Troll field later this year. While the CAVE-type installations are the only way that these massive data sets can be presented today, Midttun is convinced that as the technology improves, lightweight LCD head-mounted glasses are the way forward. These are in use at the present time, but are limited in terms of resolution. The main limiting factor in the deployment of VR is the availability of industrial strength software. Questioned on this, vendors stated that they were waiting for sales before porting their software to CAVE type environments.

Overheads live OK?

Jim Foran, Silicon Graphics’ Director of Visualization Technology gave a top level overview of SGI’s latest applications – using that time-honored visualization tool, the overhead projector. Foran described SGI’s work with the Spanish Government in flight simulation. The whole of Spain has been digitized at 20 meter resolution. Texture data can be rolled off disk at multiple resolutions – with image quality improving as the scenery nears. Flyers can roam through the data sets at will. This technology has been used in the Bosnian theatre to pre-fly missions. Could there be an application here in exploration, flying around a regional dataset looking for prospects?

Money no object!

Mike Zeitlin (Texaco) is convinced that it is ‘imperative’ to do visualization. Zeitlin made the following cost comparison – a 3D seismic survey costs around $14 million and a dry hole in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) around $40 million. To Texaco’s management therefore the investment of a mere $3 million in a Virtual Reality Center was ‘a no brainer’. Zeitlin is an avowed big spender, he told Computerworld recently "Money is not an issue for me. How many IT groups can do what they need to do without money being an issue?'' Pointing out that GOM permits are getting bigger, a 3D data volume may contain 23GB of information per seismic attribute. The only way to handle such volumes is through powerful visualization technology. Despite the whopping investment in a massive SGI Onyx2 system and his boasts to Computerworld, Zeitlin admits that cost is still a constraint on the system’s development.


Texaco’s system offers the interpreter a 25 x 8 foot screen (Cinemascope size!) with a 160 field-of-view and 4000 x 1200 pixel resolution. Texaco’s VR software is Geoprobe, used to look at seismics and complex geological bodies at the same time. The project was initiated in June 97 and has since been used to interpret 60 3D surveys. A reduction in cycle time for a 3D survey from 4 weeks to 3 days is claimed. Well location accuracy is ‘up’ and ‘positive drilling results’ have been reported. According to Zeitlin, every well location that had been previously planned using conventional techniques has moved when scrutinized with Geoprobe – usually by ‘hundreds of meters’. The system allows thousands of lines of seismics to be viewed before zooming in to a single sample. Cooperative working in this environment between geologists and geophysicists is ‘an emotional experience’. Questions from the floor focused on data quality – particularly in terms of positional information. Zeitlin stated that the QC ‘was presumed to have been done’ but that they were sometimes ‘very nervous about this’.

Killer app.

Roger Anderson of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has been collaborating with the University of Houston’s Virtual Environment Technology Laboratory (VETL) on the interpretation of 4D time lapse seismic. Anderson believes that 4D seismics will be VR’s "killer" application, allowing for the visualization of well bores in impedance space over time. Ever the showman, Anderson conducted a fly through of a developing oil field whose depletion was causing gas to come out of solution. A roomful of bespectacled time and space travelers were shown red voxels – where gas was coming out of solution – and green ones indicating bypassed oil. Anderson believes that this technology will allow for the "direct application of seismics to petroleum engineering".

Invite your trader!

But the prize for the most exaggerated claim goes to Chevron’s Donald Paul. Giving the keynote address to the SEG conference, Paul claimed boldly that the interdisciplinary nature of the Cave would enable not only the usual cohort of geoscientists and engineers to cooperate on an interpretation, but that we actually require an oil trader in there, "touching the wall". Apart from the delightful improbability of such a fantasy, at current oil prices, the presence of an oil trader in the Cave would be in danger of causing a collective suicide!

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Oracle Object Database Design Seminar (October 1998)

The Public Petroleum Data Model (PPDM)Association has arranged for Oracle Corporation to offer a one day seminar on ObjectDatabase Design on Tuesday, November 3, 1998 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The seminar is being scheduled in conjunction with the PPDM Fall Conference '98 being held November 2-6, 1998. Both the Oracle seminar and the follow-up PPDM workshop will be facilitated by Doug Benson. The seminar offers a grounding in new Object-Relational data modeling and database design methodology. This methodology is implemented using the Unified Modeling Language (UML) notation in Oracle's Object Database Designer (ODD) Type Diagrams. UML diagrams allow the data model to utilize the new object-relational features of Oracle 8 schema design and DDL. Contact: Carla Jones 1-800-363-3059 Ext. 2486 jones@ca.oracle.com.

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Good Data Manipulation Is More Important Than Virtual Reality (October 1998)

Chris Buckalew CEO of start-up VizolutionsInc. has contributed the following article debating the relative merits of VR vs. vanillavisualization. Chris concludes that ergonomic data manipulation is more important that thewhiz-bang of 3D VR.

Virtual Reality, huge screens, and real-time rendering are getting a lot of attention these days in the petroleum industry, but the ability to manipulate data in a natural and meaningful way on a desktop machine is much more useful for most purposes. Everyone enjoys a good roller-coaster ride through 3D data, but a PC with a well-designed visualization app gets 90% or more results at a fraction of the cost. Data Manipulation is the key. Most visualization apps have the same core functionality: 2D, 3D, and 4D display of data (cutplane slices, isosurface display, and time-varying isosurface display, respectively), but frequently these are hard to use and hard to learn. Performance is generally poor except on high-powered workstations.

Less use

These three factors cause users to manipulate their data less - fewer views, fewer "cuts", fewer experimental combinations of parameters, and fewer discoveries: finding out interesting things about their data. Also, fewer users have the software to begin with since such software is expensive and runs on expensive machines. A recent example of useful data manipulation in our work is the 2D slice of data, the simple cutplane. Most visualization apps provide cutplanes oriented perpendicular to the three coordinate axes; our clients wanted more flexibility in specifying exactly where the cutplane should go. We provided several improvements: the user can click with the mouse on several wells and cutplanes will connect them, like a "fence" of data slices; the user can click with the mouse on a map view and a vertical cutplane will appear between those points in the 3D view; and the user can drag those points with the mouse to move or stretch the cutplane. These cutplanes need not be axis-aligned.


Once they saw this functionality, the clients quickly thought of other improvements: animating the cutplane through a cycle between two positions; the ability to view and manipulate multiple cutplanes showing different attributes all at once, and the ability to see the cutplanes in both a map view and a 3D data view at the same time. Such cutplane functionality, although it may appear simple, teaches users a lot. VR and realtime flythroughs make for a great sales pitch, but most users spend much more time with the simple tools than with the gee-whiz tools. By listening to client requirements, figuring out what they really wanted to see and do, and providing prototypes for them to play with to spark new ideas, we took the simple cutplane and made a much more useful tool out of it. The other tools in the suite have had similar thought and user input, resulting in a very useful visualization app without the workstation cost and high performance penalties. Chris can be reached on buckalew@vizolutions.com and Vizolutions at www.vizolutions.com.

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VR Hardware Resources Primer (October 1998)

PDM offers the debutante Virtual Realist aprimer in technology and terminology. Thanks to the various VR vendors who havecontributed their material.

VR Hardware and Manufacturers

Boom (Binocular Omni-Orientation Monitor) –Fakespace Boom-mounted binocular display providing six-degree freedom of motion support structure with optical encoders at each of six joints to provide precision tracking information.
CAVE - Pyramid Systems Box like structure with projections on 3 or more walls. Users wear 3D glasses and stand inside box for ‘immersive’ 3D experience.
CrystalEyes – Stereographics Lightweight, wireless eyewear system that delivers high-definition, stereoscopic 3D images.
CyberGrasp – Virtual Technologies

Haptic Glove – enables users to "touch" computer-generated objects and experience realistic force feedback

ImmersaDesk – Pyramid Systems. Light table back-projector. Viewed with 3D glasses.
Immersive Workbench - Fakespace Light table back-projector. Uses CRT projection technology and active shutter-glasses for stereo viewing.
Magellan 3D controller - Logitech

A 3D Controller translating touch into dynamic movement of objects within 3D space. Used to control a robot during a space shuttle mission for NASA.

Monitor Zscreen – Pyramid Systems A flat-panel overlay for computer workstation displays that delivers stereoscopic 3D visualization capabilities
Muse Developed by NASA, a de-facto standard API for VR programming.
Pinch Glove – Fakespace Glove communication device. Signals are coded according to numbers of pinching fingers.
Push Display – Fakespace Binocular 3D display with motion feedback delivering immersive stereo imagery, six-degree of freedom motion and precise motion tracking in a compact, tabletop form factor.
SensAble – Phantom Various haptic (sensory force/motion) feedback devices.
Stylus - Polhemus A pencil-like device with an integral switch allows for the capture of x,y and z coordinates of real objects.
Versabench – Fakespace Back-lit light table display. Viewed with stereo glasses.

The major VR players

Alternate Realities Corp.


Continuum Resources








Pyramid Systems




Silicon Graphics






Virtual Technologies Inc.


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Eclipse Office announced (October 1998)

The ECLIPSE Office workflow manager foroilfield simulation is planned for release in the fourth quarter of this year. ECLIPSEOffice will aid in simulation model construction by providing a ‘completelyintegrated environment for application launching, pre and post-processing, and simulationrun control’.

ECLIPSE Office offers an integrated desktop for the launch of all the applications in the ECLIPSE product line. Office is a new GeoQuest application that helps the simulation engineer in the history matching phase of a reservoir simulation study. For quick-look simulation, a simple perpendicular bisector (PEBI) gridder allows for the creation of a simulation grid with minimal user interaction. Engineers also can use ECLIPSE Office to manage parallel processing of large and complex reservoir simulations running the parallel versions of ECLIPSE 100 or 300.

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Landmark’s OpenJournal (October 1998)

Developed in conjunction with Badley EarthSciences – best known for its Fault Analysis (FAPS) software – Landmark’sOpen Journal is an interactive project and workflow documentation application.

Designed to allow geoscientists and engineers to share best practices and document their thought processes, OpenJournal documents decision-making steps in an E&P interpretation through the use of visual screen images and text. OpenJournal documentation is converted on the fly to HTML-linked web pages, allowing for corporate-wide deployment. The product allows an interpreter on a UNIX workstation to annotate an aspect of an interpretation, perhaps highlighting a particular uncertainty. This information can then be accessed in the field or at another geographical location over the net. All types of E&P documentation can be delivered using OpenJournal which is available either stand-alone or as part of a project using OpenWorks or OpenExplorer. More from www.lgc.com.

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Sattlegger ISPoo3 high precision digitizing (October 1998)

New digitizing software from Sattlegger GmbHoffers high accuracy digitizing using an arbitrary number of calibration points.

Satlegger’s new digitizing software allows for the capture of old paper maps and other documents. High accuracy, even from poor quality materials suffering from shrinkage or other defects is achieved by the use of multiple calibration fields with or without extrapolation. Calibration points may be stored in geographical or Cartesian coordinates, and digitization performed in point or stream mode. The transformation of calibration points ensures that multiple digitized sheets will tie at their edges. An interface to Landmark’s OpenWorks is available. Info from sat@sat.el.eunet.de.

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Space station-based VR from Continuum (October 1998)

Continuum has been founded by merging Waldenwith Energy Innovations Group and plans to deploy immersive hardware and softwareenvironments in Houston, Stavanger and London.

Royce Nelson knows a thing or two about a name. One of the founders of Landmark Graphics (which he sold for an undisclosed but rumored large sum) Nelson more recently founded Walden 3 (Thoreau and Skinner having done the first two - see PDM V3 N3). His latest naming – of startup ‘Continuum’ is an evocation of our present 3D interpretational paradigm, plus time itself. Continuum is set "to change the way people interact with their data". According to Nelson, ‘oil is found in the mind – so we need to get the data out of the computer and into the mind as fast as possible’. Based on technology developed by NASA for the space station, Continuum’s paradigm is distinctly ‘Back-to-the-Future’ and may disconcert the average G&G-er.

Come fly with me!

Users of Continuum’s VR system for the interpretation of seismic and well data, are invited to ‘work with data the way you drive a car’. The flyer/driver operates the system with a 3D joystick devised by MUSE technology and also incorporates head tracking and voice recognition. The user interface is described as ‘the most significant improvement since Xerox Parc’ (where the mouse was invented). Operating (or as they say ‘flying’) this novel technology involves equally novel terminology. We ‘tethered’ to the moon, then tethered to ‘paper seismic application’. Collaborative computing took on a whole new meaning as Ken ‘grabbed onto’ Greg. Wobby wailing sounds emanated from the surround-sound hi-fi as we slithered down a seismic trace. Next we ‘Stopped time’, briefly as we donned our 3D specs to witness Ken flying above a geological horizon, as Greg flew below. Both of course from separate offices. ‘Option nine!’ fired up a seismic auto-picker seeded with a high pitched whine. Very spacey, very weird! Dock with Continuum on www.continuum-corp.com.

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VisionDome brings Immersive Technology to the Asset Team (October 1998)

GeoQuest has signed with Alternate RealitiesCorporation to become exclusive reseller of the VisionDome to the energy sector. TheVisionDome is a hemishpherical screen and projector combination which offers anentry-level VR environment.

The VisionDome "virtual environment" is intended to allow "all members of the asset team to share their knowledge through collaborative decision making". Consisting of a football-like structure and a central video projector a ‘3D effect’ is claimed without special viewing equipment. The technology is said to enable ‘peer review and discussion throughout the entire reservoir lifecycle process’. Described as ‘first fully immersive, portable, single-projection, virtual-reality environment that does not require goggles, headsets or helmets’, the VisionDome features a ‘unique lens with infinite focus’. VisionDome manufacturer Alternate Realities Corporation was founded in 1993 as a spin-off of the North Carolina Supercomputing Center (NCSC).

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StratiMagic Conference (October 1998)

Following the a successful SEG show,CGG’s StratiMagic now has a US based User Group. The inaugural meeting was held inHouston earlier this month.

StratiMagic was one of the hottest products on show at the New Orleans SEG exhibition last month. CGG has farmed out the marketing of this seismic interpretation plug-in to the new Flagship Geosciences subsidiary and they put on a good show, attracting more folks than we have seen on a CGG stand for a long time… well forever actually! Flagship followed up the SEG commercial presentations with a dedicated StratiMagic Conference in Houston earlier this month. This was the first user group meeting and first StratiMagic conference in the United States. Will Morse, Senior Systems Advisor with Anadarko and roving reporter to the Usenet sci.geo.petroleum newsgroup has allowed PDM to summarize his posting.


About 60 people including the Flagship and CGG personnel were in attendance and some 22 oil companies represented. James Thompson of BP Exploration was elected as chairman. Examples of real-world use of StratiMagic included the detection of shallow drilling hazards from seismic facies (BP). StratiMagic has recently benefited from CGG’s acquisition of GeoNexus (www.geonexuscorp.com). GeoNexus founder George Palmer (the man behind the former Photon - SeisX seismic interpretation package) describes his company’s NexModel product as bringing "petro-acoustics" to Stratimagic. Up to now Stratimagic has focused on characterizing 3D seismic facies; the addition of GeoNexus will add modeling of velocity, fluid and rock properties, thickness, tuning effects, and other features that cause the observed seismic response.

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Open Works Release 98 – Real Soon Now! (October 1998)

Landmark has announced the imminent release ofRelease 98 of its interpretation suite. Release 98 will include SeisWorks 1998 (note Y2Kcompliant moniker!) with new performance enhancements for very large fault and well data.

Release 98 is Landmark's second synchronized release of more than 20 of Landmark's applications. Release 98 includes new functionality, performance improvements, expanded integration, further POSC migration, and support for a number of new products. In addition, the company will also soon announce Release 98Plus, Landmark's Year 2000-compliant version of Release 98 (that should be Release 1998Plus surely). John Gibson, Landmark executive vice president, Integrated Products Group. "We've worked extensively with our large worldwide installed base on the development and testing of SeisWorks 1998, which allows even faster, more accurate decisions through integrated information. We are also collaborating with our clients on training and consulting on how to work together effectively."


New integrated multidisciplinary workflows allow interpreters to enhance their structural and stratigraphic interpretations with geological and petrophysical information. Extended integration through Landmark's OpenWorks project data management environment allows asset teams to share and work with the same data-at the same time-in a common environment. As a result, team members can simultaneously share different types of information to enrich their understanding of prospects and reservoirs. A new fault mover is designed to automatically convert faults between SeisWorks, StratWorks, Z-MAP Plus, and OpenWorks. Integration with Landmark's Wellbore Planner further enhances a multidisciplinary team's ability to interpret the subsurface and plan a well interactively. Landmark has also extended SeisWorks integration to GeoGraphix PC-based SeisVision for greater flexibility. A new integration tool will allow teams to choose the technology that best fits the project at hand, while providing the scalability across multi-platform environments to share information between SeisWorks and SeisVision.

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PPDM to recruit new Leader (October 1998)

The Calgary-based Public Petroleum Data ModelAssociation (PPDM) has plans to raise its profile, work on expansion of its data model andfocus on ‘business-driven’ solutions. Plans include the appointment of a newExecutive Director with responsibilities for growth, marketing strategies and revenuegeneration.

The Public Petroleum Data Model Association (PPDM) has been developing a more comprehensive strategic plan to ensure continued growth and success focused on Model expansion and business-driven solutions. Plans include a larger role for the PPDM Executive Director, with increased emphasis on growth, marketing strategies and revenue generation. As a result of the redesign and expanded time commitment of the position, the PPDM Board has initiated a CEO search process with open competition. In the interim period until at least February, 1999, the PPDM Board of Directors has extended and expanded the contracts with their current Co-Executive Directors, Mel Huszti and Mary Kai Manson, and has invited them to enter the competition. PPDM is seeking leadership from a CEO qualified to market the business benefits of PPDM membership, participation and products. Candidates will be required to have a broad technical and business understanding of the application of IT in the petroleum industry, and will have a network of senior contacts with oil and gas companies, software vendors, data vendors, regulatory agencies, and allied organizations. Details are posted at www.ppdm.org

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