July 1999

GeoQuest acquires Merak (July 1999)

In its ‘largest acquisition ever’, Schlumberger-GeoQuest’s has acquired Canadian software house Merak. This acquisition, in the coveted economic modeling and risk management arena, mirrors Landmark’s purchase of EAS below. Both acquisitions target the critical frontier between technical and financial IT.

Merak Projects Ltd. was founded in 1980 by Don Jeffers. The flagship Petroleum Economic Evaluation Program (Peep) was originally developed for DOS in 1985. Merak is an unqualified success story posting revenue growth of 50% over the past 4 years. Around half of US and international oil and gas companies use Merak software while in Canada, penetration is over 90%. 1995 revenues from sales were $5 million growing to $17 million in 1997. Currently, Merak's software falls into three suites

Petroleum Desktop

Value Management (including Peeps)

Field Optimization.

GeoQuest and Merak have already cooperated in client-supported work linking Peep to OilField Manager (OFM) and Finder to WellView. Meanwhile Merak (a privately-held company) was considering an Initial Public Offering (IPO), but was concerned with the valuation and

requirements for expenditure on infrastructure that an IPO would have brought. The current deal (pending board approval), following on the heels of last month's acquisition of Panther, illustrates GeoQuest's new 'buy not build' policy.

fit ‘good’

For Merak, the direct sale to GeoQuest offered a competitive (but undisclosed) evaluation and the needed infrastructure. GeoQuest's Larry Denver told PDM "the fit is generally good between GeoQuest and Merak's software, the Merak acquisition simply adds a comprehensive economics capability. There will however be some rationalization of functional overlap with OFM".

data formats

PDM asked about issues arising from different data formats and databases. Denver does not see a problem - PetroDesk is regarded as a window on data in external databases such as PI/Dwights, Finder will still be the main repository. On the PC versus UNIX debate, Denver acknowledged that more and more of the marketplace is going to the PC - "either on NT or Linux". A survey of 35 GeoQuest clients around the world suggested that they would migrate to NT in the next 3-5 years.


The Merak software will be central to Schlumberger's Integrated Reservoir Optimization (IRO) strategy originally presented to PDM readers in our report of Thierry Pilenko's address to the Euro '98 Forum in Cannes (see PDM Vol 3 N° 4). Another key element is the increased presence in the COMfor Energy consortium. Merak has been very aggressive in COM-based development and the linkage to SAP in particular is very strong. Denver told PDM that GeoQuest has moved ERP this to top of its priorities and the Merak to SAP links will be leveraged by GeoQuest to leapfrog into the ERP field. Core product development and business operations in Calgary will continue, making the Canadian city a key product development center for GeoQuest. Merak’s 230 employees service 600 companies in over 30 countries. PDM asked if the ‘buy not build’ corporate policy would continue. Denver implied that this was indeed likely and asked us to "Watch this space..". 

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.. while Landmark bags EAS (July 1999)

Landmark Graphics Corp. has bought Economic Analysis Systems (EAS). EAS’ Teras Pecos solution combines economic analysis and decision support.

Teras is an integrated capital allocation system designed to capture and exploit information generated by multidisciplinary asset teams. The acronyms say it all - Teras is The Economic and Risk Analysis System, while the main software tool Pecos is the Petroleum Economic Simulation Evaluation. Teras provides the economic modeling tools, including Monte Carlo simulation, but extends the usual analysis. A typical Teras computation might begin with a portfolio of projects, a fixed capex and a required NPV.


An optimizer identifies various combinations of projects that meet the requirements and then analyzes the portfolio to minimize risk. Further simulation leads to a selection of project combinations which maximize NPV until an 'efficiency frontier' is reached. Landmark has already been cooperating with EAS in the context of Mobil’s Technical Computing Solution initiative.


Decision support and capital allocation are at the core of Bob Peebler’s ‘nirvana’ level- 4 of integration. Peebler told PDM that he believed that in a few years time, the EAS deal would be looked back upon as one of Landmark’s most significant acquisitions ever.

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Microsoft - irresistible? (July 1999)

PDM's editor Neil McNaughton attended the Microsoft TechEd 99 conference and learned of the latest elements of Bill Gates' strategy for domination of the IT industry. New Microsoft targets such as interoperability and performant data access are of concern to us all. The obstacles will be assailed by the trusted Microsoft strategy of offering users a familiar interface, lots of functionality and low cost.

You cannot fail to be impressed with Microsoft's all-encompassing IT offering and seductive marketing. I'd like to share some thoughts on how Microsoft has got to where it is now, and to prepare you for the next level onslaught from Redmond, because believe me, what's brewing around COM, XML and SQL Server will affect us all.

end-user first

Microsoft's strong starting position is not so much the OS as the application-end of the business. It has been by providing massively functional applications and selling them cheap that Microsoft has achieved dominance. Once everyone in the organization is on Office, the choice of NT follows. But not yet that of SQL Server. So how is Microsoft going to rein-in that segment of the market? By offering massively functional database applications just like they did with the word processor before.


Don't believe me? How about being able to perform 'region growing' and other sophisticated statistics on data in your production database from your desktop? But I'm getting ahead of myself, I'd like to walk you through three high-impact solutions as seen from the key end-user standpoint.

OLAP - Data Mining

Do you remember how the database vendors sold us SQL a while back by saying that we all needed ad-hoc queries? We did and we probably still do, but how many ad-hoc queries have you performed today? My guess is none because using SQL to query a moderately complex database is like "kicking a whale across the beach with your bare feet". Rather than spending three weeks (a real-world figure) writing one SQL query, the trend is to have a separate 'data cube' database, with data extracted from the production database and pre-arranged so that it can be attacked by On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP). Now Microsoft has not invented OLAP, but BG didn't invent the OS, the word processor or the spreadsheet. They just made all this technology accessible and cheap. This is what is about to happen with OLAP. Instead of spending $50,000 on some obscure software, you will be soon have 'in-your-face' region-growing and data mining, right out of Office.

MTS - concurrency

Another potential killer application is data loading and synchronicity. You know the problem, multiple databases, multiple data-entry points and ensuing chaos! Enter Microsoft Transaction Server – providing a cheap, configurable link to all your organizations databases. Pop a Visual Basic ‘business logic’ layer on top of that, and you can ensure that one validated x-y coordinate is transformed and replicated across the organization.


But my main take-home concept from the show is Microsoft’s enthusiasm for XML as the preferred route to interoperability. Of course XML is intended to be a CORBA and Java Beans killer, but the spin-off, unless the technology is hijacked, is a credible route to interoperability that avoids the old problem of standards that only work if everyone implements them in exactly the same way. Next month’s PDM will look at XML in depth, in fact if you would like to contribute something, feel free. Meanwhile, you’ll fine lots more on TechEd on pages 6 & 7 in this issue and also an exclusive interview with Microsoft’s industry architect James Utzschneider.

fly in the ointment?

It would be dishonest of me not to end by relating the preparation of this month’s PDM. Good news, the DTP is now entirely done in-house using Microsoft Publisher – a fabulous, $100 program which drives a monster typesetting machine at my local printer’s with no problem. But… it has crashed about 20 times today, causing blood pressure to rise and much gnashing of teeth. So please Microsoft, sweat some more of the small stuff! If you do, then believe me the current FTC case will look like a storm in a teacup when all these new goodies are up and running.

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Corporate Data Store Dead! (July 1999)

Hamish Wilson’s UK based consultancy Paras has been studying the effectiveness of expenditure on upstream IT. He concludes that the technical process is now capable of being regarded as a ’prospect production line’, and that excessive IT and geoscience is showing diminishing returns. The smart money, according to Wilson, is spent on decision support IT, and on outsourced data management. The Corporate Data Store is the main victim of Wilson’s new world order. PDM offers an edited version of Wilson’s show-stopping paper presented at the Landmark WWTF.

Cost issues and technology are forcing oil companies to re-evaluate the role of Information Management (IM) in their organizations. The push is to develop strategies that explicitly add value to the business. Such strategies will be based on just in time data delivery to asset teams, and will be achieved with minimal in-house data management. The basis for such a radical conclusion is Wilson's observation that companies that are 'good' at data management are not necessarily good at business. Wilson's consulting company, Paras has attempted to analyze exactly how data management adds value to the business. Wilson has likened this to the marketing executive’s dilemma. He knows that 50% of the advertising budget it wasted, but doesn't know which 50% it is.

efficiency frontier

Paras' analysis is based upon an analysis of the efficiency of investment - in both general E&P and on IT. The figure below shows a comparison of reserves added per license as a function of IT spend for a variety of North Sea permits. There is great dispersion in the data points suggesting that costly IT does not necessarily add value to a company. Furthermore, an ‘efficiency frontier’ is soon reached beyond which more spend does not bring more reserves. Other analyses suggest that IT spend is mainly driven by head count. Paras, in collaboration with Exprodat have further analyzed the decision making process in E&P. They break down the E&P process into into 'technical' and decision making processes. They argue, and many G&G-ers will take issue with this, that the technical interpretation process is no longer a differentiator between oil and gas companies. It is the decision making process that sorts the men from the boys in the E&P sweepstakes. Wilson likens the interpretation process to a production line 'manufacturing' prospects and proposes Taylorian metrics such as number of prospects generated per interpreter-month as efficiency measures.


The issue of data and information management must now be viewed in the context of whether it is helping to reduce the cycle time for the prospect production process. If this is not the case, then we should not be spending money on it. One vexed area for efficiency seekers, as PDM readers are well aware, is the area of interoperability. Wilson believes that much software deployed in the E&P shop will never be integrated and regards this as a barrier to efficiency. The reason? Commercial pressures and lack of vendor cooperation. The solution? Single vendor providers or at least constrained multi-vendor environments such as implemented by Conoco, Mobil and Vastar, or most recently by BP Amoco.


A related problem is that of burgeoning Application portfolios - Wilson believes that interpreters are too emotionally attached to their software and that efficiency gains are to be achieved by chopping out those underused applications.


Wilson maintains that much E&P is 'over-scienced', which has led to these expanding portfolios. Wilson has examined the seismic interpretation process closely and sees this as "3D all the way". A minimum IM infrastructure has been defined to support this. Many companies have 2 or 3 mapping programs and as many cross section generators. They may further have similar software running of UNIX and NT. All this would benefit from serious rationalization. Choose an integration platform, and retreat from the 'best of breed' ideal.


One major target for efficiency gains is the Corporate Data Store (CDS). Here Wilson is unequivocal. The CDS is dead! Or rather should be reined-in and focussed around a high-level repository of corporate knowledge. The main reason for the failure of the CDS? The fact that there is only ever one data flow, from the CDS to the projects. Data just does not go back into the CDS and add value. So if it is incapable of capturing the value added data, why not get rid of it altogether. All the bulk data management should be managed by off-site third parties. Where will all the money saved be spent? On the high added-value end of the business - the Decision Support. Other analyses performed by Paras compare headcount with success in terms of reserves added. Wilson suggests serious under-achievement in this field, if people are not drilling wells or interpreting seismic, why have them?


For Wilson, the prime example of an efficiency-producing project is the Norwegian Diskos which he describes as "a phenomenal success". Other pointers to the new world order - capable suppliers like GeoQuest providing IT and Data Management support and IHS with ‘just in time’ data. What is left to keep in house? The knowledge, textual information tracking the decision process, the context in which decisions are taken and most important of all, the Knowledge Base, back populated with mission-critical information from the projects. 

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Imation launches Media Services (July 1999)

A new service from data storage specialist Imation promises off-site storage and management of the whole data asset.

Imation Corp. has announced a portfolio of Media Services designed to meet the needs of corporate data center managers. Imation will provide data protection and maintenance services for removable storage media.

whole enchilada!

Imation’s Media Services portfolio will include:

Customized Preparation Services, including labeling and initialization, custom packaging, and emergency delivery

Maintenance Services, including tape cleaning, re-labeling, and degaussing

Recovery Services, including recovering data from damaged or improperly stored media

Duplication Services, including copy and conversion from a variety of formats

Offsite Storage Services, securing media in underground or above-ground facilities to protect data from natural disasters, as well as misplacement and loss.


"With more than forty years of data storage leadership, Imation has earned the trust of our customers to help them manage their most valuable corporate assets – their data," said Steve Ladwig, president, Imation Data Storage and Information Management. "Given our expertise in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of data storage solutions, offering full life-cycle media services is a natural evolution for us," Ladwig continued.


"By leveraging a nationwide network of qualified service providers, Imation will offer a turn-key, single source solution for our customers." Imation Media Services is the latest in a series of initiatives from Imation’s which includes Imation Web Backup, the first in a series of Internet and corporate Intranet-based data backup and recovery solutions to the mobile and desktop workforce.

$2 billion

In 1998, Imation reported revenues of approximately $2.0 billion and as of March 31, 1999, Imation employed 6,250 people worldwide.

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Odegaard automates seismic interpretation (July 1999)

Odegaard’s ALSF software promises to automate the seismic interpretation process.

Danish software house Odegaard is set to automate seismic interpretation with its new Automatic Layer Sequence Field (ALSF) product. Odegaard’s new technique provides a detailed stratigraphic subsurface image from seismic data for identifying reservoirs without requiring any interpreter input.


Odegaard claims ALSF is a powerful tool for deriving the low frequency component in seismic inversion, one of Odegaard's specialties. The layer sequence is defined in two stages. First a 3D trace analysis of the dip of individual reflections is performed then, the dip information for the individual traces is combined to derive the layer sequence field, resulting in a high resolution stratigraphic interpretation.

dry holes

Odegaard's deputy managing director Kim Gunn Maver claims ‘ALSF offers the opportunity to eliminate incorrect background impedance in seismic inversion interpretations which lead to dry holes and missed opportunities.’ The company believes that the introduction of ALSF will speed up the seismic acquisition to drilling cycle because a much less detailed interpretation process is required prior to inversion.

PDM comment – no it is not the silly season, Odegaard really does intend to speed up if not fully automate the process of seismic interpretation. Faults and other discontinuities may still be added by hand. Makes us think that Hamish Wilson’s prospect production line paradigm may not be all that far-fetched after all!

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PDM Conference Report – Microsoft TechEd ‘99 (July 1999)

A new venture for PDM was our attendance this month at the Microsoft TechEd '99, held in Amsterdam's RAI conference center. The subtitle of this, Microsoft's European technology forum was 'Get Fired Up'. We did. Notwithstanding any misgivings one might share with the FTC as to Microsoft's 'domination' of IT, we will attempt to convey here and in the current Editorial some of this enthusiasm for Microsoft's new technological offerings. We want to communicate what we have learned, and to imagine what may be. While we will not hype, we will neither seek to understand all the gotcha's and counter-arguments which will undoubtedly emerge. We had two objectives in going to the show. One was to get genned-up on the latest technology. But we also wanted to take a rain-check on how other industries were shaping up with their IT. How they were dealing with interoperability, with data management and generally, how they were getting along with the people from Redmond.


It is no surprise that there is not much talk of CORBA at the Microsoft TechEd. What is even worse for E&P aficionados of the OMG’s interoperability standard is that it is not even taken seriously as a competitor for Microsoft's COM. A more serious contender is thought to be Sun's Enterprise Java Beans (EJB), but that's another story. Microsoft has been working on COM for a decade or so and is able to present a rather mature view of interoperability. The current thinking is important in determining COM’s scope. COM is no longer a cross platform interoperability standard. That role has been ascribed to XML heralded as Microsoft’s CORBA/EJB killer (see below). COM is now more or less officially limited to interoperability and component software on Windows.

SQL Server

We have heard recently from John Pohlman and others of the 'move to NT'. But for most of E&P computing, this means that applications that used only to run on Oracle and UNIX, now run on Oracle and NT. This is not what is considered a 'win' for Microsoft. Microsoft's target is not UNIX, but Oracle. The goal is not (just) to replace UNIX boxes with NT clusters, but to have enterprise computing move from Oracle to SQL Server 7. Our reaction to this strategy was to think 'yeah, yeah they would like that wouldn't they' and to further reason that it would take more than just price to make a Landmark or a GeoQuest move their zillion lines of tuned code to a new database engine. Well of course this reasoning failed to take account of the fact that those people at Redmond are coming from a very strong position, and they are smart! See this month's editorial for more on the strategy.


A key component of SQL Server is the Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS). There is more to this technology than meets the eye. MTS can be used without a SQL Server database to, for instance, update, and synchronize a multiplicity of Oracle (or other) databases running on either UNIX or NT. Not perhaps a very politically correct solution but who cares? If clean authoritative data could be achieved by running data capture through what one hopes would be a user friendly data entry point running MTS then that is good news for everyone.


At one point in the proceedings, I thought that I in a Geoshare meeting. XML, the cross platform extension of HTML addresses the same isses as Geoshare, in terms of lose integration. Microsoft may be bullish about COM, but the new spin is that the whole Distributed Object approach for Business to Business data exchange is flawed! That it is flawed whether you plan to use COM, CORBA, or Sun's Enterprise Java Beans. That the true path to lose data integration is XML, tailored to industry specific business requirements.


XML is in reality the technology behind the misnamed(?) COM for Energy initiative. Here a local dialect of XML, tailored to the Upstream will make up part of the Microsoft ‘BizTalk‘ XML-based initiative for ‘open’ business to business (B2B in the jargon) data exchange. According to Paul Maritz, VP of development (until this week!) "the next five years will really be about XML". The next issue of PDM will include an in-depth look at XML.


Maritz explained that the web has proved a popular but static source of information. Now the trend is for dynamic information on the web. Just as static web has been an enabler for the sharing of documents, the new dynamic web will be an enabler of interoperability through the exchange of live data. Windows Distributed Internet Applications Architechture (DNA) is Microsoft's 'guiding' architecture, a three tier division of labors into Presentation, Business Rules and Server architecture. This will allow programmers to write applications that will work across multiple devices, so that if an information request comes from the latest web browser, or desktop application, then the full functionality of the client application will be serviced. If however, the requester is a mobile phone, then an appropriate minimal subset of the information can be supplied.

Digital Dashboard

Outlook and the Digital Dashboard (DD) form Microsoft’s Knowledge Work offering. These are extensions to Office which offer a customizable portal to information in the organization. The DD is based on Outlook, HTML, XML, OLAP and Office 2000 and supports all of these technologies native. DD Product Manager Mike Guilbert showed Bill Gates' personal DD which, apart from the stock quotes, includes TAHO - a new cross-document intelligent search capability which returns documents containing relevant information in native format.

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Is the grass greener on the financial services’ side of the fence? (July 1999)

Is IT in the well-endowed financial services sector light-years ahead of clunky old E&P computing? Seemingly not!

Because the financial services industry - banking and insurance - are the real IT big spenders, we expected to hear that they were well down the road of distributed computing, one-time data entry , validation and suchlike. Wrong! These guys are in exactly the same boat as E&P.


Their systems are islands of information linked with spaghetti just like ours. The difference is that they have more resources to throw at the problem and probably manage the overall business better than us. But at the cost of numerous (human) tellers and clerks, lots of paper (still) and even more COBOL programmers keeping the ship afloat with dedicated point to point data links. The sector consequently shares our interest in the new object paradigm.

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PDM Interview with James Utzschneider (July 1999)

Is XML for real? PDM quizzed Jim Utzschneider, Microsoft's Technical Architect, Industry Frameworks

PDM – XML is the talk of the show, but if it lives up to its promises, it will open up IT to all-comers – UNIX, Java. Is this really Microsoft’s strategy?

J.U. – Yes. HTML is a default, open format for Office 2000 and XML is used to store the formatting information.

PDM – Will XML be appropriate for the complex, large data objects in E&P?

J.U. – Not all data types are amenable to XML, but binary data can be encapsulated and XML supports C data types.

PDM – XML has an anachronistic flavor, can it really compete with CORBA?

J.U. XML is market driven. Distributed computing across the web cannot always support tight integration – hence the need for something simple that can cope with an e-commerce system which may take 12 hours to respond.

PDM – What role will these technologies have in technical to financial computing (ERP)?

J.U. – ERP to date is like a mediaeval fiefdom with its own rules and regulations. Communicating with such systems has been hard. We need to get ERP to implement a ’treaty’ - to offer-up say just five pieces of intelligible data.

PDM - so what is wrong with COM or CORBA in this context?

J.U. - We need robustness and simplicity - I do not want to trust your API, or to have to use SQL-Net - just send me standard XML and I will do what I like with it. The CORBA/business object approach is flawed because of the requirement to synchronize every protocol stack on every system - in other words for all 'fiefdoms' to become part of each other. This leads to the problem of the 'uberschema' an all-encompassing industry data model which we know is unrealizable.

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Petrosystems User Meeting (July 1999)

Users of CGG’s Petrosystems software shared their experiences in Paris last month. PDM was there, and also heard CGG’s new CEO, Robert Brunck outline the group’s new strategy.

Around 100 G&G software users attended the Annual Petrosystems User Group meeting held last month on a Seine Riverboat. A sad note however was the untimely death of Petrosystems’ marketing manager Marc Philton, killed in a car crash earlier this year.


CGG’s new boss Robert Brunck outlined the revamped organization of the company describing the new - Processing/Reservoir business unit as a major new strategy for CGG. The new unit will handle Data Management, Processing, GeoVecteur Software and Reservoir studies. Brunck described the thread linking all of these as the service element of the offering. Data Management is to play a key role in the new unit as the glue for all these processes.


Reflecting on recent industry hard times, Brunck stated that this was a time of challenge, with plenty of opportunities to seize. CGG he said, was to become a 'data flow management company' - from Sercel’s hardware in the field to the reservoir delineation services of Petrosystems. During the downturn, CGG has continued with R&D spend and this year, has doubled investment in speculative surveys – during a time when many oil companies were keeping their hands in thair pockets!


Petrosystems recent acquisition of Flagship and NexModel, and pioneering work with with POSC and Open Spirit - were said to demonstrate this. Petrosystems will be managed independently from the parent group. "Be sure, CGG will emerge from these hard times as a leading company for the year 2000," Brunck concluded.


H. Posamentier (Arco) offered a client testimonial to the efficacy of StratiMagic in the extraction of stratigraphic information from 3D seismics. Posamentier's management is committed (not ’emotionally attached‘!) to GeoQuest, but he is a determined supporter of StratiMagic and conducts an ongoing battle against software rationalization. StratiMagic is 'fast and user-friendly' and as a geologist, Posamentier is at home with StratiMagic's concepts and performs iterative interpretation to test different hypotheses. StratiMagic is not used for structural interpretation, but rather to develop a geological context in which amplitude anomalies can be assessed, allowing for the management of stratigraphy-related geological risk factors. Generally, in the analysis of 3D seismic data, not single tool has all the answers. Stratimagic allows for 'slicing and dicing' of the 3D cube 'every which way’. The geologist can then apply his or her background in geomorphology and sedimentology to identify patterns overlooked by more geophysical approach.


Eric Lefeuvre described Petrosystem’s data management offering, particularly with Petrovision. Three different usage profiles are envisioned for Petrovision.

PetroVision as the Corporate Database designed to store and deliver data to the workstation

PetroVision used in the National Data Repository for data delivery to clients and subscribers

A subset of PetroVision for use as a Seismic Archive - including associated documentation.


PetroVision stores attribute data in a POSC Epicentre database. Bulk data is stored on any Hierarchical Storage Manager or Near-Line Storage Manager. The system is said to be hardware independent. RODE encapsulation allows for mixed and evolving use of tape and disk storage. A GIS front end is in the process of 'evolving' to include an ArcView front end. This comes in two flavors; ArcView may be 'encapsulated' in PetroVision, or PetroVision clients can now use a 'generic' ArcView Application Extension front-end. This allows for web-access to attribute data. Petrosystems are beta testing a Java applet for managing metadata, but much of this development is waiting on Oracle 8i.

Data loading objective is for 'transparent' loading to the workstation, and is direct to OpenWorks, including 'poly-cut' polygonal extraction of 3D data. Data loading is flexible to cater for the wide range of data formats - here benefit is claimed by loading metadata to POSC entities rather than to database tables. Petrosystems are working on an interactive data loader which will work through the logical model.


A year 2000 compliant PetroVision is scheduled for release mid 99 and a new version using ESRI’s SDE and a web viewer will be released towards the end of the millennium.

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Troika’s Magma bubbles (July 1999)

New transcription software from Troika and service offering with partner Eurotech

Troika International has just released Magma, a modular data manipulation package. Magma handles the transcription of seismic and other E&P types of data. Magma runs on a PC running Microsoft Windows NT, accessing tape drives via standard SCSI adapters, including Adaptec, with no practical block size limitation. In particular, Magma can drive an IBM 3590 at close to maximum speed.


Magma is written in portable, object-oriented C++. A graphical user interface is provided for all modules, although this is separated from the underlying functionality. A format-neutral utility module uses an embedded Tcl interpreter to allow scripting of common tasks. The transcription module includes support for the standard SEG formats, as well as QA plotting facilities. Hooks are provided for interfacing to third party systems and databases while a modular structure allows support for proprietary formats to be added as required. Troika possesses a comprehensive format library to facilitate this. Support for 21-track is already available as an option.


Magma can be licensed as a complete system, or on a modular basis. Six month licenses are also available for project or evaluation purposes. Troika can assist in data analysis and project QA. In association with Eurotech Computer Services, Troika can also provide turnkey solutions with a wide variety of tape drives and connectivity. Eurotech can also provide a data recovery system, which can deal with a wide variety of nine-track stiction problems.

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PPDM Model in Designer (July 1999)

The PPDM data model is now available in Oracle Designer 2000 format for 'instant use'.

The Public Petroleum Data Model Association (PPDM) will now provide the PPDM v 3.4.1 data model as an Oracle Designer 2000 Export File to members. The new format offers a practical quick start for sites that use the Designer / Developer 2000 (version 1.3) suite of products for application development or model enhancement based on the PPDM data model. All table definitions, domains and ER diagrams are contained in this export file, to get you "up and running as fast as possible".

Contact info@ppdm.org for additional information.

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Caesar (July 1999)

New economic evaluation tools for PetroVR

Caesar Petroleum Systems have added three new tools to PetroVR, the Oil a Gas Property evaluation Suite. PlanVR allows for economic modeling, risk evaluation and also models exploration, development, and operation activities.


EconVR is a an economic model builder customizable to any fiscal regime and deal structure and ships with a library of models covering Production Sharing Agreements, Service Agreements and Concession Terms. Finally, PortfolioVR adds tools for managing and optimizing the project portfolio. More from


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People (July 1999)

People on the move in Paradigm, IHS and Geodynamic.

Eldad Weiss, CEO is now also Chairman of the Paradigm Geophysical Board. Weiss succeeds Jacob Nunietz who has held the post since 1993. Gil Hamilton is now executive VP and CFO of IHS Energy. Hamilton was previously senior VP and Controller for the IHS Group. Hamilton now reports to Chris Meyer, president, COO and CFO of IHS Group and chairman of IHS Energy Group. The IHS Energy management team, or the "Office of the CEO" is rumored to have suffered from the 'long knives' syndrome. Thue current line up is Dave Noel, Information & Data Management Services, Susan Whitbread, Economics & Consulting and Hamilton. Geodynamic Solutions has four new developers in its ArcView/Oracle team handling its consulting and product development business. Geodynamic will not however be pursuing the previously announced alliance with IHS Energy (see PDM Vol. 4 N° 3) which was to involve the outsourced development of EDGE. Geodynamics will remain a member of the PI ArchiTechs program and develop applications against the IHS data sets.

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PetroNews – New Geneva-based Data Vendor (July 1999)

A new data vendor has been created by ex-Petroconsultants staff. Scouting information will be distributed with Stephenson & Associates SApphire database.

Michel Godel who was recently 'let go' by Petroconsulants has founded PetroNews S.A., a new company specializing in petroleum exploration and production information services. Other founder-directors of the Geneva-based concern are Moscow-based financier Amin Mirabdolbaghi, and Gérard Mangold, described as a Swiss trading specialist.


Godel, president of the new company has over 30 years of petroleum exploration experience.

PetroNews will concentrate its activities in the E&P information and consulting business. The new company has hired geologists and geographers with significant experience in this domain and senior consultants of "worldwide reputation".


Many of the new staff are understood to have been ‘downsized’ in the recent IHS Energy restructuring of Petroconsultants. The new company’s business model is familiar, information is to be obtained via local correspondents, state organizations and direct contacts with oil companies.

scouting service

The data is will be classified, checked and computerized before being delivered to customers online or on

CD-ROM. Services include daily Scouting Exploration & Production reports, Field analyses, and Consulting

Reports. Areas to be covered first are CIS/Central Asia, West Africa and South America. PetroNews services will be fully available as of September 1st 1999.


The database will be set up using a customized version of Stephenson and Associates SApphire

product. SApphire allows the data to be viewed and downloaded using a web browser such as Netscape or Internet Explorer. Clients will have

access to SApphire via the PetroNews Web site and will not need a local copy. More from www.petro-news.com. 

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GPS breakthough from Veritas (July 1999)

New satellite-based survey system allows for real-time remote QC.

Veritas has successfully deployed its new Seismic Mobile Information & Control System (Seis-MICS) remote survey technology which enables Global Positioning System (GPS) survey data to be transmitted in near real-time via satellite from surveyors in western Wyoming to a remote center in Calgary. Here, data quality control is performed in real-time while the survey crew is still in the field.

LEO sateillite

Seis-MICS utilizes low Earth-orbiting (LEO) communications satellites to transmit small packets of survey data, in the form of e-mail messages, directly from a surveyor's ‘LeoRider’ GPS backpack in the field to the remote ICC. Each backpack has its own unique e-mail address, enabling effective two-way satellite communications in virtual real-time between the ICC and the surveyors in the field.

Millenium II

Seis-MICS technology, is a component of Veritas DGC’s ongoing Millennium II project, a global information system that will enable near real-time data, for all field activities associated with the collection of seismic data worldwide, to be delivered to a central site.

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Veritas opens in Norway (July 1999)

Veritas has just opened its 22nd processing center in Stavanger.

Equipped with Hewlett-Packard C-class workstation technology, the new center is linked to Veritas' NEC SX-4 supercomputers in the U.K., Houston and Singapore, enabling the new center to offer enhanced services such as depth migration, velocity model building, AVO processing, modeling and inversion. The new facility is the third satellite center to be opened by Veritas EAME and offers Veritas’ clients close interaction with staff plus the benefits of supercomputer power.

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Petris and 1MAGE team on E&P Document Management System (July 1999)

PetrisConnect, the Internet-based E&P data browser is to integrate web-imaging support from 1Mage Software.

Houston-based Petris Technology, is teaming with 1MAGE Software of Englewood, CO in a strategic marketing alliance set to offer Internet-based document imaging to energy companies. PetrisConnect will use a Web browser to interface with the 1MAGE Document Management System. PetrisConnect can be easily deployed across entire organizations, enabling users to interact with business application systems, processes and procedures from any Web client.


The ability to web-enable enterprise business systems with electronic document imaging creates a dramatic return in information infrastructure. Data associated with the images recorded into any database (e.g. MS Access, Oracle, and Uni-Data). PetrisConnect can provide a virtual Internet library for all users, whether documents are scanned in one location or many.

Visual Basic

PetrisConnect combines Microsoft Visual Basic and Java syntax for universal development. The PetrisConnect application server runs on Windows NT and UNIX servers - from single departmental machines to enterprise-wide configurations. Rene Calderon, product manager for PetrisConnect said, "We are excited about working with 1MAGE. Their expertise in document management along with their innovative approach to tightly integrating document imaging with existing business application software fits nicely with our strategy."


1MAGE Software, Inc. is described as a leading provider of electronic document imaging systems to UNIX and NT relational database end users. David R. DeYoung, president of 1MAGE Software, stated, "The alliance with Petris in the energy industry complements our suite of industry-focused business partners." Other 1MAGE Alliance partnership deals have been struck in automotive retail, healthcare and public safety. More from www.petris.com and www.1mage.com. 

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Geodynamic’s website to showcase new software (July 1999)

Geodynamic’s new website offers free download of GIS software and demos of web-based mapping.

GIS specialist Geodynamic Solutions, Inc. (GSI), has unveiled its new website at www.geodynamic.com. "GIS tools are rapidly emerging as a means of accessing and analyzing information within the business enterprise and via the Internet," said Kirk Barrell, President and CEO of Geodynamic. "Our new site contains information about our growing company and industry specific GIS information".


In the near future the website will display examples of interactive maps and allow clients to purchase the products online. Geodynamic Solutions has several products forthcoming that be showcased on the new website.


A trial version of the Well and Production Data Converter can be downloaded and the new GSI's web server product, ZeroIn, to be released in the fall of 1999, will soon be accessible and will "demonstrate the power of Internet-based mapping and analysis" of datasets from a variety of industries. More from www.geodynamic.com. 

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Wall-to-wall Landmark chez BP Amoco (July 1999)

Three-year software and services contract is Landmark’s biggest sale ever.

BP Amoco is to standardize its drilling, reservoir engineering, geology and geophysics applications on Landmark’s suite of software applications. The three-year deal involves the deployment of Landmark software at 61 sites throughout the world representing all of BP Amoco's major upstream assets. The software will replace in-house developments and products from other vendors. BP Amoco join Mobil, Enterprise, Statoil and PanCanadian in opting for a single-supplier solution for upstream applications. The deal covers all project-based IT, from OpenExplorer through G&G to reservoir and drilling but excludes 'primary data management' -

i.e. master data store and bulk data management which, in the UK, is currently outsourced to GeoQuest.


BP Amoco's objective is to reduce learning times, establish globally-shared work methods, and facilitate innovation and best practices throughout its E&P organization by standardizing on a core set of integrated applications. The agreement covers a broad range of Landmark technology and services with the portfolio centered around OpenWorks as the integration environment and project management database.


Landmark also will provide support, training, and professional consulting services throughout BP Amoco Exploration and Production worldwide. Bob Peebler, Landmark President and CEO said "We're extremely pleased to form this relationship of distinction with BP Amoco as they align their organization and realize their worldwide goals and targets for profitability and growth. By standardizing on Landmark's open and integrated solutions, we believe BP Amoco is positioning themselves for the future as the company that is redefining how technology can drive profitability in the E&P industry."

product comparison

When merging, BP and Amoco had a unique opportunity to examine the extensive software applications used previously, with the objective of improving integration and productivity to meet business driven changes. Bob Peebler told PDM that Landmark’s long-held belief in integration and openness were factors in BP Amoco’s decision, although no specific integration of third party or legacy software is called for in the deal.


Christine Connelly, Vice President for Upstream Information Technology at BP Amoco said "This agreement and the technology it brings are at the core of our efforts to standardize work processes and therefore the tools which are needed. "Standardization will further improve the effectiveness of our multi-discipline teams at finding, developing and producing oil and gas in an optimized manner."

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