May 2000

Western Geco

Hard times in the seismic sector have forced Schlumberger and Baker Hughes to radical measures. By combining their Geco-Prakla and Western Geophysical units, the groups will dominate the seismic scene - or at least what’s left of it!

Why leave the mega-mergers to the oil co’s when the service sector can play too? Baker Hughes International (BHI) plans to combine its Western Geophysical unit with Schlumberger’s Geco-Prakla. But while the major oils cash in on $30 oil, the service sector marriage is more one of inconvenience, with rumors of combined yearly losses for the two players of around $200 million.


The deal is currently at the Memorandum of Understanding phase pending board and regulatory approvals. The newly formed group will be owned 70% by Schlumberger and 30% by Baker Hughes. Schlumberger will pay some $500 million to BHI to complete the transaction and is expected to injected a further $100 of working capital. Western Geophysical president Gary Jones is to head the new venture which had pro-forma revenue of $1.5 billion for 1999.

50% market share

Western Geco will dominate seismic acquisition and processing with an estimated 50% of the world market. A good fit is claimed for the acquisition business since Western’s strength in land acquisition is matched by both Geco’s offshore position and technology. In processing, the situation is less clear-cut. Omega is a head-on competitor for the recently productized Seismos.


BHI chairman Joe Foster said "The Western Geco venture is expected to result in improved efficiencies in data processing and acquisition and will have strong R&D funding, an excellent workforce and superior technology. Our customers will have access to an expanded, world-class, multi-client seismic data library.” Baker Hughes plans to use the proceeds from the transaction to reduce debt.


Major rationalization is in the offing with a likely scaling-down of fleets and processing capacity. The venture is expected to generate ‘substantial’ cost savings. A filing under anti-trust legislation in underway and the deal is expected to complete before the end of the year.

A2D for Anadarko

Anadarko Petroleum has signed a five year deal with A2D Technologies for e-commerce provision of Gulf of Mexico well log data.

Anadarko has contracted Houston-based A2D technologies to provide unlimited access to some 36,000 Gulf of Mexico wells. The data includes raster logs, digital data, and velocities. Delivery of the data will leverage A2D’s Log-Line software.


Anadarko’s exploration supervisor Tim Trautman explained - “Anadarko will reap improved efficiencies in both data access and management. Another big advantage of having all this data at our fingertips is that it fits our staff’s productivity demands.” A2D claims pioneer status in B2B e-commerce, having provided log data over the net since 1997.

200,000 wells

Founded in 1993, A2D sells digital data from 200,000 wells in the major basins in the United States, and provides customized data management and conversion services. A2D has also developed the Smart Section tool for depth-referenced interpretation of raster logs. More from

Back to the 80’s?

PDM’s editor Neil McNaughton reports on divergent views of the future for independent oil and gas companies. He discusses how new technologies such as application service provision (ASP) may affect both independents and the E&P software industry.

There is something implausible about economists telling buyers or sellers what the right price for a commodity should be. International Energy Agency director Robert Priddle recently harangued OPEC over the high price of oil. Service sector bosses have simultaneously been complaining to oil and gas corporations about their losses. Despite the entreaties, the pips continue to squeak, whether it be at the gas station or in the service sector. Baker Hughes’ fire sale of the lion’s share of Western Geophysical contrasts with the stupendous amounts of cash the majors are making just by sitting on their hands. All of which to my way of thinking is an economic wonderland. But it gets better.

running out

Recent studies from Robertsons, the USGS and the International Energy Agency have confirmed the obvious fact that world oil resources are running out. Estimates of a few decades of production have been advanced. The received view used to be that these remaining reserves would be increasingly hard to locate and exploit, that they would come in smaller, more complicated fields, and that the new focus would be on near-field developments rather than wildcats. That was before the deep offshore came along. Suddenly, instead of sweating the hard stuff, we are back to hunting elephants.


This geological wonderland was much in evidence at the AAPG convention in New Orleans last month (see pages 8-10 for our report). The leitmotif seems to be, if you aren’t investigating some deepwater super-giant in your multi-million dollar Visionarium, then you are nobody! The situation today is reminiscent of that of the 1980’s when the emerging technology of 3D seismics was the exclusive preserve of the majors. Not for long though, as the independents discovered that the new technology was perfect for re-vamping existing fields and generating instant low risk cash.

the fall

3DX Technologies’ Ronald Nowak, described* the independents’ rise and fall in the following decade to conclude ”By the downturn in 1998, the technology based small independents [were], scrambling to raise capital, at a time of extremely low oil prices. The results to date have been a series of mergers, bankruptcies, and financial failures, signaling the fall of many of those unique independents.”

and rise?

CNG Petroleum’s John Lewis presented a more optimistic view of the independents’ future. Lewis believes that “Independent oil and gas companies have become major players in all aspects of the business [] and are now proficient in drilling, [] and developing infrastructure for all areas of the GOM including the deepwater which is a key to their future on both the domestic and international E&P fronts.”


What most impressed me at the show was the breadth of technology on offer and its increasing accessibility - particularly through application service provision (ASP). ASP promises an economical and rational IT paradigm to the smaller organization. At the same time, ASP may undermine the cost structure of the software developer - much in the way that MP3 is doing for the music business. Depending on your viewpoint, this may hurt innovation, or enhance developer focus on client needs. It will probably do a bit of both.


Another eye-catcher is visualization technology, almost an allegory of the mega-merged oil co. The multi-million dollar Visionarium makes a statement along the lines of “this is technology and capital-intensive activity that only the great and mighty can achieve.”

elephant hunter

So the Visionarium is essential kit for the deepwater elephant hunter! Without begrudging the mega-majors their fun (and Visionaria) lets hope that technology transfer to the independent sector, as happened with 3D in ‘80s, together with a rationalizing of what is the real added-value will again undermine the advantage of scale that is claimed by the largest oil cos.

*The rise (and fall?) of technology based small independents in the 1990’s Nowak, et al. AAPG 2000.

**The Role of the independent oil and gas companies in the new millennium. Lewis. AAPG 2000.

Merak connects to data vendors and revamps economics

Merak’s latest release of PetroDesk promises enhancements in vendor data connectivity. The latest version of the Value Management suite offers a world-view of economics and asset management.

A new release of Merak’s PetroDesk 2000 data integration and mapping suite offers enhanced connectivity to data vendors. PetroDesk 2000 release can now access public Canadian and US data from multiple vendors, including Petroleum Data Source, WhiteStar, IHS Energy and PennPoint. Merak now bundles production history and grid/culture data for the US with both PetroDesk and Peep. Other new functionality includes ESRI shape file import, HTML-based reports and improved queries on parameters such as region, layer, land list or map extent.

Value Management Suite

The 2000 Merak Value Management Suite (VMS) houses new versions of Peep, Capital Planning and Decision Tree. Canadian Peep, US Peep and World Peep are now combined in one executable, enabling oil and gas companies to rollup international assets for global management and evaluation. Merak’s portfolio optimization tool VMS director Dave Mason claims “Capital Planning is the first application in the industry to allow oil and gas companies to simultaneously examine and modify multiple portfolios for global capital optimization.”

decisions, decisions

Decision Tree now includes a ‘visual Monte Carlo’ graphical interface, allowing for model building including branching and conditional logic. Complex business scenarios can be represented in a single diagram. More from

Geoshare Version 12.0

A new release of the Geoshare data exchange standard has been announced. In keeping with the organization’s softly-softly approach, changes are minor.

Geoshare is intended as ‘a public standard for the integration of computer systems and application programs used in the oil and gas industry.’ The trick is to use self-describing data, much in the way of XML, and to pipe data objects via software ‘half links’ into a virtual data bus. Geoshare is built atop of the RP66 data exchange standard, itself derived from Schlumbergsr’s DLIS format. The importance of a data exchange mechanism seems to be inversely proportional to its public visibility and Geoshare is the transport of choice for many ad-hoc and mission critical data bridges in use today.


The latest version of the standard introduces enhancements including a log trace modifier, size guidelines for zoned variables, enhanced map symbols and plot codes, clarified usage for datum names and cartographic parameters and other enhancements. By minimizing change, the Geoshare organization reduces disruption to the installed base. The new model definition can viewed at

GE Capital backs Petroleum Exchange

GE Capital has bought 30% of Petroleum Exchange’s e-commerce arm.

General Electric Capital Structured Finance Group (SFG) has invested in Petroleum Exchange (PE), an asset trading house founded in 1996. SFG has put in undisclosed equity to acquire 30% of PE’s e-commerce portal.


SFG e-business manager Kevin Walsh told PDM “ is a good fit with SFG’s e-business initiatives and oil and gas investment strategy.” Walsh describes Petroweb as an ‘infomediary’ bringing together buyers and sellers of industry data. Petroweb provides a map interface to view, purchase, download and evaluate well, production data, seismic and pipeline information.


The data is supplied by industry-leading data providers. E-commerce is ‘built in’ to the map interface. Petroweb can also be used by oil and gas companies to capitalize on legacy data assets. SFG is an investor in oil industry and high tech service companies. SFG provides financial products and services and acts as an equity partner in energy, telecommunications, and transport. Parent group GE Capital is wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric and has $345 billion assets.

Muse acquires AVS

Virtual Reality specialist Muse Technologies plans to take-over Advanced Visualization Systems and to ‘dominate’ the visualization marketplace.

Albuquerque-based Muse Technologies has signed a letter of intent to acquire Advanced Visual Systems (AVS). Upon completion of the deal, a user base of over 12,000 is claimed, supported out of 15 international offices. The transaction will involve the issue of up to 2.1 million Muse shares (19%) to be exchanged for outstanding AVS stock. Up to 1.3 million stock options will be issued and Muse will assume around $2 million of AVS’ debt. MUSE and AVS plan to integrate their product lines, and a web version of AVS’ OpenViz, dev kit is in in the pipeline.


Brian Clark, Muse president said “With visualization and perceptual computing poised to migrate onto the desktops of worldwide business users, our plan to dominate the marketplace is strengthened and expedited by a joining of Muse and AVS.” AVS’ Russ Barbour will be president of the new Muse AVS subsidiary. MUSE headcount will double to 170.

oil and gas

AVS has previously been active in oil and gas with service sector clients such as PGS, and Schlumberger. Oil companies such as BP Amoco, Exxon and Texaco have all used AVS tools in the past. But AVS’ visibility in oil and gas has diminished of late. Muse is also technology provider to Continuum Resources. More from

XML in upstream IT

POSC is redefining itself as an e-commerce enabler and technology - watch service provider. One closely-observed technology is XML, which is the subject of a POSC-maintained public mailing list.

XML, the new(-ish) web markup language (see PDM special edition, August 1999) is increasingly deployed in oil and gas e-commerce. The Petrotechnical Open Software Corp. (POSC) is to maintain a public mailing list for parties interested in following developments in this field, and has been investigating XML take-up in oil and gas.


Apart from POSC’s own efforts, the Petroleum Industry Data Exchange (PIDX) committee of the American Petroleum Institute (API) is looking to include XML definitions in its standard.

Blue Book

The Petroleum Production Reporting System (PPRS) of the UK DTI - aka the “Blue Book 2000” is to use XML for production reporting. The US Minerals Management Service’s use of XML is reported on page 3 of this issue. Other XML enthusiasts and BizTech for Energy, and commercial software vendors such as, Peloton and others. Both PIDX and POSC are holding XML seminars in Houston (July 11-13). You can sign up for the POSC xml mailing list on the website

Schlumberger buys Operational Services Inc.

Schlumberger has acquired OSI, the Houston-based provider of operational, mechanical and engineering services.

Schlumberger Oilfield Services has acquired Houston-based Operational Services, Inc. (OSI). OSI’s services fall into three broad categories - operational, engineering and mechanical. OSI manages client’s production and provides operations reporting, maintenance, QHSE, accounting and facilities engineering. OSI works onshore and offshore in 14 countries for clients including major E&P companies, independents and gas utilities.

reservoir optimization

As a wholly owned subsidiary of Schlumberger, OSI will work with other Schlumberger reservoir optimization services, including Integrated Project Management (IPM) and Production Operators, to deliver a systematic approach to field management. Schlumberger Reservoir Management president Peter Goode said “OSI has 250 skilled employees and a reputation for fast reaction time and technical expertise.


By combining OSI’s best-in-class services with Schlumberger’s reservoir management we are able to deliver premier production operations capability to the industry.” OSI was founded in 1990 br J.E. R. Sheeler, Jr., who will continue to manage the daily operations of the organization.

Basin-wide geopressure

Version 7.0 of Knowledge Systems Drillworks/Predict geopressure prediction software promises integration with basin modeling.

Based in Stafford, Texas, Knowledge Systems, Inc. (KSI) claims its DrillWorks/Predict software as the world-leader in geopressure analysis. The software is used to anticipate drilling problems due to overpressure and allow planners to design well programs accordingly. The new Version 7.0 claims improved functionality and increased accessibility.

$7 million

Enhancements to the user interface include time-saving functions which have contributed to a reported $7 million cost savings for Norske Shell. A feature of the new software is integration with Knowledge Systems’ latest product DrillWorks/Basin.


Basin is a new addition to the KSI family of pore pressure software allowing for advanced basin modeling and data inversion techniques. These are used to predict geopressure at the basin scale in the planning phase of a well, and to update the prediction in real-time during drilling. Users can build up a basin-wide database of geopressure data. KSI CEO James Bridges said “Our objective has been to provide the oil industry with intuitive tools that reduce drilling costs and increase safety.”

E-commerce push from MMS

PDM visited with the US Mineral Management Services - the government body responsible for awarding petroleum licenses and monitoring activity. Suzan Bacigalupi heads up Information Management with the MMS’ New Orleans branch which handles the offshore Gulf of Mexico Region. Suzan gave PDM a status report on e-commerce activity in the MMS with special reference to the POSC pilot project.

PDM – What is driving the MMS to e-commerce?

Bacigalupi – The push comes from government. By 2003 an e-commerce option will be mandatory. We already provide a lot of information on the public domain website and we are currently working on improving the store front look. Ultimately, we will have MMS business objects on the web allowing for electronic posting of applications to drill, sundry notice and directional surveys.

PDM - How is e-commerce being deployed at the MMS?

Bacigalupi - The POSC pilot project was a test-bed for electronic data transfer between oil and gas companies and the MMS. We want to receive data electronically, but there will also be a lot on offer for oil and gas companies. We expect to provide look-up tables for object names, error checking and automated QC for data entry. Business rules will check for valid well APIs etc.

PDM - What technologies were deployed in the pilot?

Bacigalupi - We used XML forms (see the code sample) to simplify data entry and provide real time QC of incoming data. Right now we are looking to augment the XML data entry with an Oracle database.

PDM - What problems did you encounter? In Europe, similar projects have reported problems of entitlements.

Bacigalupi - We had some issues with security and hardware which are currently being fixed. We have a good record of corporate entitlements, but have noted a problem with authentication. This gets hard at the individual level - who has authority to act for a given oil company?

PDM - will you offer electronic lease sales?

Bacigalupi The current public meeting system of lease sales is written down in the legislation which would have to be changed to allow electronic lease sale. There are no plans to do this at present. We have introduced an electronic fund transfer mechanism in place for receiving the bid monies.

PDM - Where is the project now?

Bacigalupi - The pilot was a success and we are now in the planning stage of the full scale project. We will start simply with a few forms and are working on security, hardware, firewalls entitlement management authentication.

MMS XML code snippet with thanks to Suzan Bacigalupi




<size unit="cm">13 3/8</size>

<weight unit="lbf/ft">72</weight>



<casingMeasuredDepth unit="ft">5261</casingMeasuredDepth>

<casingTrueVerticalDepth unit="ft">4399<casingTrueVerticalDep

<testPressure unit="psi">3200</testPressure>

<shoeTestValue unit="lb/gal">13.8</shoeTestValue>

<cementSlurryVolume unit="ft3">2703</cementSlurryVolume>



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AAPG Convention New Orleans 2000

PDM spent a pleasant week in New Orleans last month. While not basking in the spring sunshine or listening to the jazz we managed to check out a few of the exhibitors. Despite the less than favorable industry climate, things are moving along fast in areas such as e-commerce and application service provision with many new offerings and older products re-vamped to embrace the new paradigms.

E-commerce is the ‘big thing’ at this year’s AAPG. What is e-commerce? In the strictest sense, it should mean electronically enabled transactions. Click on a web page and buy something (a toaster or a thousand gallons of fuel oil). There is nothing very new about this kind of transaction, supermarkets have used EDI for fifteen years or so to communicate with suppliers and even the taxman. But current usage of the term ‘e-commerce’ is much broader than this and includes anything that involves the transmission of business information over the wire. Using the broader definition, we find again that there is nothing new under the sun. The geophysical industry has been using electronic data exchange to coordinate actions between processing centers since 1975 to our knowledge. So what is new?

new hype!

Well the hype is new and of course there is the web, which promises e-commerce for all. And by ‘all’ we have to include a lot of start-ups who will probably go the way of the UK e-store before too long! Recently, IndigoPool’s Louis Desroches counted the number of ‘asset disposal’ (license trading) companies as ‘over 50’ and implied that few would see the year out.

four types

At the AAPG we observed four main categories of e-commerce offerings; equipment procurement, asset disposal, data sales and application service provision (ASP). Within each category there is a range in the depth of the offering. Some may be traditional businesses with a new web home page. Others tend towards the stricter definition of e-commerce, with heavyweight input from generic e-storefront providers like Ariba and CommerceOne.

Network Oil

A good example of the first category is Network Oil (NO), a business to business marketplace for petroleum services and equipment. NO says 228 companies are currently using the system. The first auction with about 100 lots in 8 categories, will be held in June. Goods traded are – wellheads, oil and gas country tubulars and other well-related hardware. Already, around $1 million has gone through the marketplace in a pilot project with 2 transacting oil cos and two suppliers. NO founded in 1999 and now has 110 employees in 10 regional offices working on sales and support of clients such as EOG Resources (Enron), Burlington, Unocal, Oxxy and Ocean Energy.

Petroleum Place

Petroleum Place (PP) is described as a vertical portal or ‘vortal’. Based in Denver the PP website has been a hub for North American assets disposal for five years. PP offers first pass engineering tools for asset evaluation with a web enabled/ASP model for reservoir engineering. Subscribers can access detailed information in virtual data rooms. PP is built on Autodesk mapping technology. Plans are afoot to market a productized version of the client interface for in house use. PP’s e-business technology guru Trent Hampton told PDM, ‘five to ten years from now we’ll be one of the few left standing, thanks to the critical mass we already have.’ Currently PP claims 75% of property movement e-commerce activity in lower 48. PP is a private company.

Prospect One

Prospect One (PO) is a facility whereby sellers of exploration prospects can enter their own information onto a form which is then accessible through the PO website. PO offers a pragmatic approach – usually with an online executive summary of the prospect, some ‘exhibits’ in the form of GIF images and the basics of the proposed deal in narrative form. Currently PO is a free listing service but ultimately there will be a nominal subscription fee for sellers. It will remain free to buyers. Search can be ‘map based’ in the US or goal/criteria based for cost of deal etc. PO is a facilitator for buyer-seller contracts and plans to expand services to let sellers demonstrate their prospects – with live hosted discussions. The aim is to reduce cycle time with less ‘phoning around’ while still retaining face to face contact. PO’s CIO Dee Harvey confided to PDM “This is not e-commerce – we have a pragmatic approach. To date IT has focused on the technical, now the focus is moving into the business arena.”


Petroweb (PW) president Darcy Vaughan described how the company was working with data vendors including IHS Energy, SeisExchange and MapSearch. PW’s ‘secret’ is a flexible web-interface to heterogeneous vendor data sets which offers the E&P geoscientist and engineer GIS-browsing capability through a wide range of data types. The PW links to both vendor and in-house data sources and deploys some very intuitive techniques. Moving the mouse over the map brings up ‘tool tips’ with top level information on geographic objects - such as the fluid carried in a pipeline. A click on the object allows for drill down to other attributes – such as ownership details. Clicking on a well drills through to the IHS/PI database in Denver. Pipeline data comes from the Durango pipeline database from MapSearch. The browser uses GIS technology from AutoDesk, along with Microsoft Active Directory. A must-have is the midget CD-ROM demo for the Petroweb – a remarkable Shockwave tour-de-force.

View Seis Partners

View Seis Partners (VSP) has a licensing agreement with Geco to re-market seismic data to small operators in the Gulf Coast. The business model is innovative, VSP offers a temporary license for use of the data (which may be a little as a single seismic line) together with interpretation software from SMT. VSP’s Philip Johnson told PDM that the SMT Kingdom Suite has pretty much become the standard for small operators and that it may well replace the UNIX powerhouses some day. VSP’s agreement with Schlumberger covers some 3,500 square miles of data. Creative financing allows operators to use the data on a ‘sale or return’ basis. If the operator succeeds in selling his or her property, then a ‘consummation clause’ is activated leading to payment of VSP and Geco.


GeoNet (GN) appears to be one of the first out of the blocks for E&P application service provision (ASP). GN provides a searchable buyer’s guide to third party software with a navigable tree structure of geoscience topics. All software will be ‘web enabled’ – in fact emulators allow UNIX or Windows software to run unmodified with initial access through browser. GN has signed with 18 companies including FlagShip, Terrasciences, SMT, RockSolid Images, GeoScience and Maurer Engineering. The GN website has been up since March and by July should offer online ASP – selling software on an hourly basis. Prices may be in the $10-100 per hour range. One industry source told PDM that conventional software marketing is a ‘dying’ business. “No one has money for upfront investment in software – hence the move to ASP.”


PGS is to offer ASP access to the full suite of Tigress software from servers based in Houston and London. The applications will run within a web browser using emulation technology for UNIX-based applications and PGS can host data and even review and or interpret as required. Benefits to client companies include less hardware and infrastructure investment. PGS’ Stephen Shorey told PDM “Tigress is going strong with users at 100 sites in 30 countries. It sells on cost and functionality which is closer to 100% than the competition.”


Schlumberger’s Rosella Gonzalez showed how the new knowledge work tool Mindshare can be used to facilitate distant collaborative work on a range of Schlumberger’s interpretation tools. A complex workflow involving WellPix, Stratlog, LPM (the StratiMagic look-alike) and GeoViz was captured to key documents and images in Mindshare, a platform independent web-based project description tool.

Surf and Connect

As revealed in PDM (Vol 5 N° 3) PGS are working hard on a new e-commerce offering built around the GIS browser Surf and Connect (aka “surfer”). Surfer uses ArcView, Java Dialogues and a Query Builder. The demo we saw was of the entire license history for the GOM and ran in ASP mode on an off-site server and local Netscape browser. PGS is evaluating ArcInfo 8 including the new Internet Map Server but feel that ESRI have been slow to adapt to the web.


Query can be by area of interest (AOI) and Surfer can also access seismics in PetroBank within a polygonal AOI. One a pick list has been established, project-ready seismics can be exported in Geoshare, Landmark or SEG-Y. Surfer also includes “SuperGrid” – for resampling and building new arbitrary 3D surveys from existing ones. Underlying technology includes Sun Microsystem’s Iplanet which provides Netscape with X-terminal capability. Surfer can browse OpenWorks, Finder, spreadsheets and Access databases. Version 1.3 of Surfer is ready now and provides base mapping and high-quality cartographic mapping with output to CGM or PostScript.

GeoProbe V2

The high-end visualization software Geoprobe from SGI/Texaco start-up Magic Earth is out in a new version. Apart from a new color scheme, the software offers illumination and shadowing of cubes and a new tool – the ‘cutprobe’ a hollow box cursor. Magic Earth are teaming with Rock Solid Images (RSI) to add petrophysical ‘reality’ to the GeoProbe attributes using RSI’s Attrib2D tool. An ASP offering is planned as well as a PC version. The probe costs around $99k per seat, but you can have a free trial study from

Shared Earth Technologies

Shared Earth Technologies (SET) wants to provide small to medium sized companies with a shared earth model (SEM). SET offers four views of data in the SEM. Plan, 3D, Cross Section and Correlation views of the same model can be visualized in different windows. Editing a horizon in one view initiates real-time changes in all others. Seismic time surfaces can be included and matched to well data surface. At this stage of product development, SET uses a variety of interoperability mechanisms including LAS and ASCII import and direct calls to the OpenWorks dev kit. Ultimately, SET plans to use Open Spirit middleware. Denver–based Shared Earth has finance from Altira. More from


Version 2 of XoX ShapesProspector (SP) reflects XoX’s maturing from geometry engine and dev-kit provider to application vendor. Previously, XoX sold its geometry engine to developers at SMT, Shell Oil and GeoQuest, but is now marketing SP as a stand-alone PC-based modeling tool. Melissa Harrel put the SP through its paces for PDM. Using well tops and a cylindrical salt model as input, the SP ‘interprets’ a complex (and credible) salt geometry honoring the well cuts (including multiple overhangs). Other functions allow mappings imposing parent/child relationships and other geometrical rules. The portable SEM can be used to take the model to the wellsite. The PC version of ShapesProspector costs $9,950. More from


If there was a prize for the strangest gizmo at the show it would go to Continuum’s ConCave. A Photomaton-like alcove displays seismics simultaneously on the curved wall and on a flat floor. Phillips Petroleum’s ‘Seismitarium’ software handles the bizarre geometry. Continuum are selling this entry level Virtual Reality center at $30k a pop.

Trap Tester

Badley Earth Sciences are to replace the old Fault Analysis Package (FAPS) with TrapTester (TT). TT builds a 3D computer model of a prospect which can be viewed and tested for seal integrity. Other factors such as spill point and hydrocarbon column height can also be risked with the software. TT integrates major interpretation platforms ‘seamlessly’ and is intended to make seal analysis a routine procedure for the geoscientist. Roll out for the product will extend through 2000 culminating with full voxel interpretation capability by year end.


Seacon Systems believes that the future of seismic storage is the digital video disk (DVD). Seacon chairman Bob Bearnth told PDM “The DVD standards war has been won. DVD is now the storage media of choice for seismic.” DVD currently offers up to 4.7 GB storage and performance is such that the DVD can be used as a hard disk. Software and even the operating system can be physically removed from the system if needed. This offers high level physical security and facilitates machine rental or sharing. When you are through doing whatever you do, you can go home with your data, applications and everything else on a DVD. You can alternatively lock up your software investment in the company safe, perhaps the ultimate in computer security. Mid-year 2000, drive capacity is slotted to increase to 9.2GB. The current disks cost less than $40 each and the drives are in the $ 400 - $600 range.


Badley’s upgraded Open Journal is to be re-packaged as a collaborative knowledge management solution - ‘ReactivWeb’ which will target a user base beyond oil and gas.

Badley’s Open Journal (OJ) has been established for some time as the knowledge work tool of choice for users of Landmark’s OpenWorks interpretation environment. Open Journal 2 - also known as ReaktivWeb (RW) represents a significant enhancement to OJ and supports cross platform document generation and editing, including accurate positioning of images. Despite the name, the product does not use a web browser but rather Badley’s own client.

tree view

Users can manage a hierarchy of projects from a tree view display. Ad-hoc image creation is supported and users can create a ‘pastiche’ of GIF’s – which becomes immediately available to coworkers. Live spreadsheets can be included and the system is ‘real time’ i.e. all users see and share same information. Complete cross-platform functionality is claimed for Mac/PC/UNIC – the software is all written in Java with an Oracle database as the RW server.

Front Page?

Badley is are planning an ASP offering – managing collaboration between partners. A cross between FrontPage and Microsoft’s Digital Dashboard, but with UNIX coverage, RW is a horizontal product which will be sold outside of oil and gas. Badley’s is in discussion with companies working in London’s financial services sector.

Hydro Volts

Norsk Hydro is to deploy Merak’s Volts package to track and report on its 318,000 boe daily oil and gas production.

Merak (now part of Schlumberger-GeoQuest) is to supply its “Volts” volume tracking system to Norwegian Norsk Hydro. Volts tracks multiple reserve volumes using volumetric or material balance calculations. Volts can combine historical, current and forecast production information to optimize production reporting.

SEC Reporting

Volts is an Oracle-based year-end and reserves reporting system and was designed to automate governmental and SEC reserves reporting. Hydro’s project manager Knut Kvingan said “Volts provides the basic tracking system required for Norsk Hydro.

Prospect Tracking

We plan to use the application as a prospect tracking system for strategic and competitive analysis. It is very important to us that Volts can be customized for these business processes.”

Fifty Volts

Fifty Volts licenses will replace an internal system that has been in place since 1989. Kvingan added “Our legacy system was costly to maintain and did provide the required flexibility.” Volts is part of Merak’s Value Management Suite Release 2000.

WinLoG 3

A new 32 bit version of geotechnical well log software from GAEA Technologies incorporates databasing and data management functions.

GAEA Technologies, based in Ontario Canada, has released Version 3 of the WinLoG PC-based geotechnical well log display and data management system. The new version is a 32-bit program and is fully compatible with Windows 95/98/NT and 2000.


The user interface now incorporates standard Windows’ features. Version 3 uses a Microsoft Access data management system to store borehole and project data. This data management system lets users manage project data and interoperate with other Windows programs.

master database

New features include a master project database, multiple casing plots, unlimited annotation lithology cross-plots ad-hoc graphs, macros and more. Integration with the Windows environment provides rich text support and bitmaps, lines, arrows, and rectangles can be drawn anywhere on a log. Download a demo of WinLoG from

Seismic Star

Western Geophysical is to use NASA’s satellite system to send real-time, uncompressed acquisition data back to the processing house.

The 1996 U.S. National Space Policy initiated a series of budgetary cuts for NASA which has led to the privatization of its communications networks. Privately held SpaceData Corp. was set up to market the massive satellite bandwidth that makes up the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) NASA uses to control space missions. Massive though it might be, satellite communications are no match for cable for fixed base operations, but when it comes to remote locations, especially on pitching and rolling seismic boats, NASA’s technology really comes into its own.

40 MB per sec.

SpaceData’s marine seismic offering “SeismicStar” provides around 40 megabytes per second data transfer rates from stabilized antenna on the seismic boat to one of the six TDRSS geostationary satellites. From there, the data transits through NASA ground stations at White Sands, New Mexico or Guam on to the client processing center over a cable link.


The system currently covers the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. SeismicStar’s first client is Western Geophysical whose Patriot vessel will be equipped with a 2.4 meter SeaTel terminal and over 1 TB of RAID storage and communications hardware. It is claimed than a days acquisition can be transmitted uncompressed in around 1 hours.

Geodynamic Solutions is to offer map-based browsing of IHS Energy’s data on the portal. The new ASP deal concerns both the US Petroleum Information and the international Petroconsultants datasets.

After a false start last year (see PDM Vol 4 N° 3) Geodynamic Solutions and IHS Energy have got it together. IHS’s data is to be served up to clients through Geodynamic’s ArcInfo front end from a new web portal – The new site will provide e-commerce access to IHS’s data and will also offer an application service provider (ASP) component. ASP clients will be able to “benefit from the technology while avoiding the hassle and cost of ownership and maintenance.”

core business

The division of labors represents a focusing on core business for IHS who will be providing the databases, data hosting center and data management systems for Petrolynx. Both the US-focused PIDM database and the international Petroconsultants IRIS21 are involved and will be accessible through an integrated, web-based suite of products including mapping, reporting, and data extraction tools. The company’s Petrolynx product suite, will be accessible through both the Internet and packaged for corporate Intranets.


IHS president David Noel said “We look forward to combining our strengths - the world’s most-comprehensive E&P data, data hosting center, and database management capabilities - with the technological strengths of Geodynamic Solutions, a leader in enabling E&P customers to access and analyze geographic information. By giving customers access to the best data available and the advanced technology to analyze it, we help them improve the speed and efficiency of their business.”


“The ASP model makes sense for all petroleum companies, regardless of size,” said Kirk Barrell, president and CEO of Geodynamic Solutions. “Managing data and applications requires a significant amount of technological and human resources. Integrating our mapping, reporting, and data extraction functionality with IHS Energy’s well and production data provides a real advantage to companies striving to operate more efficiently.


It is critical for customers to have access to accurate, comprehensive and timely information and to have the technology to access and analyze that information. Application service providers are rapidly emerging as the mechanism for corporations to access software and data solutions in an easier and more cost-effective manner.”


Geodynamic Solutions’ enterprise product suite, released in 1999, has been developed using GIS technology from Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). Petrolynx deploys GIS applications utilizing ArcView, MapObjects, MapObjects Internet Map Server, and the Spatial Database Engine. Check out the new service on

Robertson moves downstream

Robertson Research International is expanding its industry coverage downstream with the acquisition of Energy Market Consultants.

Robertson Research has acquired Energy Market Consultants (EMC). Founded in 1989, EMC provides forecasting services to the energy and financial sector. The deal extends Robertson’s coverage downstream to encompass refining and marketing and at the same time widens industry scope to other forms of energy.


EMC provides clients with regional analysis and forecasts of products prices and refining margins, refining industry economics and oil products prices forecasts. Other services include competitor analysis and strategy consulting.


EMC will continue to operate under its own name, as a wholly owned subsidiary of Robertsons. EMC’s is headed up by Managing Director Mark Lewis, who was previously with Petroleum Economics. Graham Heard has been appointed as Chairman of EMC. More from

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