December 2002

Service sector misery

The oil and gas service sector is going through a bad patch. Asbestos liabilities, write downs for goodwill impairment and lousy economics are causing misery all round. The seismic business is unlikely to improve without rationalization.

Even though oil prices are going through the roof, the upstream service sector has been battered in what has proved to be a true annus horribilis. Mostly the sector is suffering from the persistent low levels of exploration activity—but some external events have contributed to the current dire situation.


Halliburton’s woes began back in 1998 with the takeover of Dresser, when the company acquired a slug of undervalued liabilities relating to asbestos litigation. This month it looks as though Halliburton has finally squeezed out of a very tight spot—but at the expense of a $4 billion payment to claimants.


Schlumberger’s troubles stem from the takeover of ailing Franco-British consulting outfit Sema Group last year. This month Schlumberger has recognized a $3.2 billion charge in its fourth quarter mostly resulting from ‘goodwill impairment’ in respect of the Sema acquisition.


Petroleum Geo-Services continue to fight for survival. Most recently a critical interest payment to lenders has been delayed as PGS negotiates with its banks and bondholders. Are things getting better? Not this financial year according to Schlumberger, which issued a ‘supplemental information’ document to investors following its write-down.


Schlumberger blames an International Energy Agency study forecasting a lowering of demand, together with OPEC’s decision to maintain current quotas. Together, these have ‘served to amplify uncertainty surrounding near-term investment levels’.


Worse, Schlumberger has found that international activity has started to soften, most notably in the UK and Nigeria. Unrest in Venezuela and ‘lackluster’ activity levels in the US complete the gloomy picture. Looking to the future, Schlumberger expects the conventional seismic market to remain under pressure. A recovery in this sector is ‘unlikely before there is a balance of supply and demand’.

Fugro grows!

Fugro continues its acquisitive binge with the purchase of Dallas-based petrophysical software house Petcom Inc.

Jason Geosystems, part of Fugro’s Geoscience division is to acquire Dallas-based Petcom Inc. in a $3 million cash transaction. The current Petcom owners and original founders have agreed to continue their commitment as Petcom’s management team. Petcom was founded in 1992 and offers petrophysical services and software.


Petcom’s Windows-based software portfolio includes the PowerLog package for single and multi-well log analysis and Statmin, a statistical program that calculates lithology, mineralogy, and porosity. Petcom is a member of the GeoStar Solutions alliance of smaller upstream software vendors.


Petcom’s software will be coupled with Jason’s Rock Physics and 3DiQ reservoir characterization tools. Petcom employs a staff of 8, and had a net revenue of $1.6 million in 2001. In a separate deal, Fugro’s UK unit has acquired Foundation Exploration Services geo-technical consulting group in a £4.1 million deal. More from and

Standards—validate and comply!

Oil IT Journal editor Neil McNaughton takes a year-end ramble through the world of standards—for both the upstream and the web—awarding some prizes on the way. He homes-in on the issue of compliance. A first brush with the W3C HTML Validator leads him to suggest a New Year’s resolution for webmasters.

I have embarked on many editorials by asking the question ‘what is a standard’ and proceeded into tortuous attempts to classify standards into de-facto, de-jure, de-funct and so on before wielding the most powerful weapon in the editorialist’s armory—the delete key. This time around, there will be no classifications, just a couple of observations. The first of which is how is it that the Open Source movement—which never uses the word ‘standard’—actually produces much more standard software than the, um, standards?

First prize

Before I try to answer that I’d like to take you through some of the highlights of the current standards efforts—of which you can read much more in our reports from POSC and PPDM. Two prizes for best effort. A ‘most promising’ to WITSML. And a ‘most useful’ to the PPDM Spatial II project. On discussion with the judges though, I am unfortunately obliged to disqualify the Spatial II project on the grounds that, interesting and useful as it may be, a project which is as closely coupled to a commercial product cannot really be considered ‘standard.’

Cash strapped

Both PPDM and POSC remain strapped for cash and are resorting to semi-privately funded ‘project-based’ programs. The good news is that these have saved both organizations’ bacon by injecting much needed liquidities. The bad news is: if you want to promote a technology as a ‘standard’ the last thing you want to do is to make it somehow private. It’s sad really that so many oils have cut their paltry contributions to the .orgs. It is sadder still that those remaining are operating behind almost closed doors. Heck you oil co’s—take a chance—pay up if you are not already doing so. And if you are paying into a project—don’t close the doors!

Wooden spoon

Which brings me to my next prize—a wooden spoon for the silliest download I have ever made. While exploring the POSC website looking for information on the otherwise meritorious, although ‘private’ POSC information cataloguing project—itself a spin-off from the Shell Expro ‘Discovery’ work—I came across a 320 MByte video. Wow I thought this must be interesting! A couple of hours of ADSL later, I made myself a coffee and sat back to enjoy. What a rip-off! A disembodied hand laboriously empties the carefully arranged tiles from a mahjong box onto a table. Then, with an implausibly grand gesture, tries to sweep them back into the box. Hey what do you know—they don’t fit! It all has to do with entropy—which is a fancy way of saying ‘if you don’t put your tools away, you can never find a screwdriver’. What the intended audience for this video timewaster is I’m not sure. A child of three perhaps—or a senior executive? Is there a hidden message here?


The perpetual complaint of standards advocates is of non-compliance. Even small differences in implementation can wreak havoc at run time. XML is generally accepted as a potential solution to this. Not only does the ASCII-based standard support cross platform data exchange, the various data templates allow for on-the-fly validation of an implementation. Most developers are happy to support compliance with their own DTD or style sheet. But compliance with other folks’ oeuvre is too much of an effort for most programmers. So my message for management is—now you have XML and enforceable compliance—use it.

The Validator

If you want to flex your compliance muscles you probably won’t have to look very far. Your corporate website is probably written in HTML—actually it has to be for it to work. So this is a good starting place. How do you check your own website? Go to and feed in the url of your home page. The World Wide Web consortium provides this software which checks the page to see if a) it includes a reference to the exact flavor of HTML that is used and b) lists errors in the HTML code and exceptions to the standard. The reference bit is necessary because you have to know what version of HTML you are trying to comply with. HTML has evolved over the years and you should be aware of what version your webmeister is operating on. The most recent is actually XHTML—a more tightly specified version of the standard which imposes strict limits on what can be done.


All of the sites we tried (POSC, PPDM and, we’re sorry to say,!) failed in one way or other. Many fail because the programmer hasn’t even bothered to indicate which version of HTML is supposed to be in use. The validator can’t validate without this. Others show minor exceptions—which are none the less indicative of a sloppy approach to coding.


You have probably read elsewhere about the law court battle between Sun and Microsoft about the (non) inclusion of Java in Windows XP. What Sun and others rightly fear is that by making it just that little bit harder to use non Microsoft technologies, Bill Gates will be able to leverage the new .NET technology into a dominant position over Java—and indeed over other key developments that make up the Web—notably the Open Source Apache web server, the ‘Linux’ of the internet.

Open source

But while, thanks to Sun, Java gets defended, who is rooting for the many other technologies that make up the internet? Who is to make sure that HTML or XHTML, Cascading Style Sheets and JavaScript are properly supported in the next version of Internet Explorer? The answer is all of us—at least once we are aware of the importance of these OpenSource developments. And of the importance of compliance and validation. Talking of which, I’m afraid I have one more wooden spoon to give out—to the W3C validator itself—which fails to validate! Surely some mistake here.

Oil ITJ Interview—John Sherman

Oil IT Journal caught Landmark VP John Sherman at the London Petex Expo this month. Sherman explained the rationale behind the recent deals with Helix and Veritas and provided a peek at new developments in Landmark’s application portfolio.

OITJ—You have just announced a new ASP deal with UK consultants Helix—what does this involve?

Sherman—We are building a new application hosting environment around PetroBank for Helix’s 100 employees. Helix is a leading subsurface and petroleum engineering consultancy in the UK. The PetroBank ASP will include support for third party applications. We also recently announced Anadarko’s take-up of our ASP offering in Houston. There, users have observed that it is as fast as, or faster than, in-house, locally run software—probably because of the power of our servers.

OITJ—Is application service provision (ASP) the preferred delivery for Landmark’s software now?

Sherman—ASP is an important trend but it is not the only way forward. Landmark is all about options. For Helix, ASP is a new method of value creation. New workflows can be explored internally and new value added for customers.

OITJ—Will the Helix deal leverage Landmark’s Team Workspace collaboration software for interaction with clients?

Sherman—This is something we are looking into but it is not currently part of the deal. We have used Team Workspace in the new joint Veritas/Landmark portal ‘’ This project has its origins in work done under the auspices of the UK DTI’s Pilot program. will provide access to Veritas’ data along with ASP software. Users will be able to rent data and software for the duration of a project. Digital rights management software will assure copy protection.

Oil ITJ—who is going to use this resource?

Sherman—New entrants to the North Sea will be able to move faster without acquiring an IT infrastructure. In the USA, Bob Peebler’s Energy Virtual Partners are using this approach to good effect. The Veritas deal follows our hosting of PGS’ data in Houston and in the UK. I believe that Hosting is a business whose time has come.

Oil ITJ—What else is in the Landmark software pipeline?

Sherman—Our CDS Slegge interpretation management environment is a breakthrough in information retrieval. The release of PowerModel marks the first of a new suite of workflow (not silo) based applications integrated with DecisionSpace. While SeisWorks continues to show great ‘product velocity,’ Decision Space will eventually become the new platform - on top the OpenWorks database.

Landmark ASP for Helix

Landmark is to provide UK consultants Helix-RDS with a hosted software environment.

Landmark Graphics Corp. is to provide UK-based consultants Helix RDS with a range of software from multiple vendors. Over thirty applications and the associated sub-surface data will be accessible to Helix’s 100 employees worldwide through Landmark’s application service provision (ASP).


The ASP offering will relieve Helix of the burden of data loading, archiving, hardware upgrades, software upgrades and version control. Helix RDS clients will be able to log on remotely to projects as members of the same virtual team, enabling them to work on their data using the same applications as Helix RDS staff.


Helix MD Phil Moore added, “ASP has made it easy for us to outsource our entire technical software portfolio. The ability for us to share access with our clients to project data and applications on-line will also help to further differentiate us from our competitors.”


Landmark EFSU operations VP Doug Meikle added, “This contract demonstrates Landmark’s leadership in providing an integrated data and applications management service. ASP is especially pertinent to the North Sea where we see an accelerating trend towards outsourcing and collaborative working between E&P organizations, consultants and service companies such as Helix.” More from to host Veritas seismic data

Landmark and Veritas are to cooperate on a new UK data portal to offer hosted data and software services.

Landmark is to host Veritas DGC’s seismic data library from a new data and technology portal—‘’. The portal will provide hosted access to Landmark’s interpretation software.


The portal will also be a window onto public domain well data from Common Data Access Ltd. The aim, according to Landmark’s Doug Meikle is, “To provide a single point of access for the latest data, technology, and services that is aligned with the financial profile of the typical UKCS member. The portal save new entrants to the UKCS market valuable time and enable them to be competitive with minimal infrastructure costs.”


Veritas VP Elwyn Jones added, “Access to quality seismic data is critical for success in a mature basin like the UKCS. Our joint initiative will allow easy and affordable access to this dataset for new entrants to the UKCS.”

MMS puts documents online

The US Minerals Management Service has put nearly a million scanned documents online. But access to the massive public dataset would benefit from a more user-friendly interface.

The Gulf of Mexico OCS Region of the US Minerals Management Service (MMS) now sports an online system for viewing and downloading public domain information. The Public Information Data System (PIDS) provides access to well summary reports, applications for permit to drill, pipeline rights of way and other documents.


MMS Gulf of Mexico Regional Director Chris Oynes said, “This is a tremendous improvement in our customer service capability and for the thousands of customers who use our oil and gas records for activity in the ocean. This Internet access to various records will potentially save them considerable time and expense.”

1 million documents

Documents are made up of sets of raster format (TIFF) images that can be viewed and downloaded separately. Nearly one million images are available for download. Documents are searchable by Lease, Permit, Plans, Rights-of-Way, Suspensions and Well Files. By year-end 2002 MMS plans to have converted its TIFF images to PDF. Check out the PIDS on

Comment—The system is about as user-friendly as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Finding stuff is easy—so long as you know the exact name of the item you are looking for. Wildcards don’t work and there is no accessible list of codes to look up. The MMS won’t be doing IHS out of business for a while yet!

New Zealand seismic software

New Zealand’s Institute of Geological Sciences has released a new version of its Globe Claritas seismic processing suite.

New Zealand-based Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd (GNS) has released a new version of its seismic processing software targeting the international market. Globe Claritas is described as a complete 2D and 3D land and marine seismic processing system that is already used in oil exploration in seven countries.

V 3.8

Globe Release 3.8 runs on Unix and Linux and handles 2D and 3D exploration surveys, wide-angle deep crustal seismic sounding and ground penetrating radar.


A new job control system provides for spreadsheet-based management and submission of processing parameters. Multiple production runs can be set up—speeding complex testing sequences. Spreadsheets can be updated by processing jobs to generate QC information.


A new GUI brings context-sensitive layout and pop-up forms for every utility along with point-and-click functionality and a new user-focused help system. Also new is a ‘seismic difference’ window and interactive display.


GNS claims a significant reduction in key module run times. Other enhancements include interactive wavelet extraction, a parabolic Radon demultiple module, power spectrum and amplitude histogram display and Linux support for disc files greater than 2 Gbytes. More from

Paradigm updates applications

Paradigm has announced new software for structural model validation and seismic attribute analysis for its Epos integration platform.

Paradigm Geophysical has released GeoSec 3D—a new system for structural restoration and balancing of geological 3D models. GeoSec leverages the model building capabilities of SolidGeo, Paradigm’s model-building solution, and runs on the Epos 2.0 integration framework. GeoSec’s structural analysis tools facilitate the identification of interpretation errors by generating restored geologic surfaces, at either regional or prospect scale. Interpreters can build and validate structurally robust geologic models that accurately represent their interpretation data.


Franco Spano, GeoSec Product Manager, said, “GeoSec minimizes risk due to insufficient knowledge about the tectonic regime and its impact on exploration projects.” Paradigm has also released two new seismic attribute packages—‘Data’ and ‘Feature’. The Seismic Data Attributes package is made up of some twenty attributes which can be used to enhance physical and geometric descriptions of the subsurface.


The package also includes geometric properties to highlight lateral relationships in seismic data. One of these, ‘Lightscape,’ is a new transformation for the ‘illumination’ of the subsurface. The Seismic Feature package extends imaging capability with attributes designed to detect thin beds (spectral decomposition), isolate attenuation zones, and enhance subsurface discontinuities.

Petrel 2002 workflow

A new release of Petrel’s workflow tools includes enhanced geostatistics and automated fault connections.

Acquisition by Schlumberger has not slowed Petrel’s software development. The latest edition of Workflow Tools 2002 claims more speed in fault modeling and volume calculations, and new improvements in facies modeling and surface editing. The Process Manager has been upgraded to aid automatic plotting. A new tool now auto-connects branching and crossing faults while other functions have been added for a variety of 2D surface edits.


A truncated Gaussian algorithm using the GSLIB geostatistical toolkit has been added for modeling prograding geological environments such as river deltas, carbonate systems etc. where facies variations often follow a sequence. Other new developments include improvements to the seismic autotracker (which can now use surfaces as trends) and new options for upscaling.

3D StrataWorks visualization

StrataWorks now offers a 3D environment for correlating large complex reservoirs.

Landmark’s latest application—StratWorks 3D adds 3D visualization and interpretation capabilities to the StratWorks family of interpretation tools. StratWorks 3D provides an integrated visualization and interpretation environment for analyzing and understanding complex geological environments and enabling ‘improved reservoir development decisions’. StratWorks 3D’s advanced environment means that subsurface analysis can be performed in a true spatial context, enabling geologists and engineers to accurately and efficiently define geologic regimes and characterize reservoirs.


Kandy Lukats, Landmark Systems VP of Exploration and Development said, “Today’s complex reservoirs require sophisticated tools to understand and model accurately. By viewing multiple data types simultaneously, geoscientists can confidently interpret the most difficult stratigraphic situations. The ability to view and correlate hundreds of wells in a single 3D view greatly improves interpretation efficiency.”

Statoil drives VAN offshore

Using SGI’s Visual Area Network, Statoil has ‘democratized’ high end collaboration and visualization.

SGI recently demoed its high-end remote visualization technology to a group of observers from major oil and gas companies at Statoil’s Stavanger office. PC-users ran an interactive interpretation session involving large 3D models of the Gullfaks oil field from a remotely located SGI Reality Center facility. The demo—claimed as an industry first—leveraged SGI’s Visual Area Networking (VAN) technology, which allows geographically dispersed teams to view and manipulate complex graphical data using virtually any thin client over standard data networks. The SGI VAN, co-hosted by Statoil and Kidra, ran on an SGI Onyx graphics server at Kidra’s Stavanger visualization center, linked to Statoil via a 50Mbps ATM fiber.


Statoil geologist Knut Kirkemo said, “SGI’s VAN lets us interpret large volumes of data collaboratively and make rapid drilling and field development decisions.” The system offers a full screen resolution of 1024 x 768 at between 15 and 20 frames per second. Remote collaboration uses SGI’s OpenGL Vizserver for interactive sharing of large 3D models between the Reality Center and a remote thin client. OpenGL Vizserver optimizes bandwidth use by transmitting only the frame-by-frame images of the data rather than the actual data set. Vizserver can operate on virtually any type of client, including laptops, workstations and soon on a PDA.


SGI Global Energy Solutions director Bill Bartling commented, “SGI’s Visual Area Network solution democratizes visualization, making it available to an organization’s key employees no matter where they’re located. By increasing collaboration, the industry can now make more informed decisions that lead to greater drilling success, reduced costs and increased profits.”

Folks, orgs, offices’n stuff

Deloitte and Touche expands in Aberdeen, while folks are moving in Trade-Ranger, Seitel, POSC and PGS.

Deloitte and Touche’s Petroleum Group (fomerly part of Arthur Andersen) has formed a centre of excellence in Aberdeen to be managed by senior partner Derek Henderson.


Trade-Ranger has appointed John Wilson as president and CEO. Wilson was previously with Landmark and Veritas DGC.


Seitel has announced the appointment of Larry Lenig, Jr., as CEO and president. Lenig’s last job was as president, N. America with Paradigm Geophysical.


The Petroleum Open Software Corp. (POSC) has announced its new board as follows—David Archer (POSC), Peter Breunig (ChevronTexaco), Andy Lane (Landmark), Gary Lore (MMS), Steve Peacock (BP), Bill Ragosa (ExxonMobil), Stewart Robinson (UK DTI), Yogesh Sinha (ONGC), Ihab Toma (Schlumberger), Eldad Weiss (Paradigm Geophysical) and Herb Yuan (Shell).


Struggling PGS has a new CEO in Svein Rennemo.

POSC captures WITSML

The Petrotechnical Open Software Corp. (POSC) like other standards orgs has had a hard time recently. But things are looking up—at least in terms of POSC’s recognition within the industry as the appropriate home for pre-cooked standards. Earlier this year the Geoshare organization elected to place itself in POSC’s custodianship. This month the embryonic WITSML initiative did likewise. But, with a budget of around $ 1.5 million, POSC is still strapped for cash. This means that some of the most interesting work migrates into more or less private Special Interest Groups (SIG). One such ‘secret SIG’ is the Data Storage Solutions initiative along with its subset—the information catalog. We report here on these interesting if obscure initiatives. More openness was shown in the very complete presentation of the new WITSML data transfer standard.


Kjetil Tonstad’s after action review of Statoil’s SCORE project reported on the successful move from the bad old days when data ‘entropy’ was high and when costs were unknown and essentially unmanaged. Now data finding time is down from 60% to 20%. Tonstad recognizes that implementing standards is time consuming. Statoil believes that each standard’s value has to be proved before implementation. Once adopted, standards are documented, enforced and where possible, shared with partners. As the SCORE project evolved, a significant reduction in IT support has been achieved. In 1990, Statoil had an IT support staff to technical user count of 1:1. In 2001, this had fallen to 1:8 (as against an industry average of 1:3). But Statoil is not through! Users still report working with inadequate or poorly documented data. The CDS aims to supply QC information and data context in a future release.


Abusalbi described an evolutionary chain of data and associated decision processes. This ranges from a single ‘answer’ of uncertain quality (which is probably wrong!) through degrees of quality assurance and risk management to the ‘noble goal’ of one ‘official’ answer with known uncertainty. Abusalbi recognizes that IT managers often have a ‘story’ to tell—of multiple suppliers and little or no standards. What can be done to improve this? The solution—or rather the solution spectrum—consists of “a bit of GIS, some Portal, a corporate data store and so on”. Schlumberger’s current focus is on integrated information management including ‘results management’. Abusalbi advocates staying within mainstream IM/IT by leveraging standards like XML and the use of Open Source processes, “where standards depend on specific software or formats.”


Flare Consultants has been working with Shell on an E&P taxonomy catalogue—a standard set of meta-data attributes for E&P information. The Catalogue is a ‘connection layer’—a high level federator that connects different data stores via ‘a common E&P language’—promising ‘easily integrated information’. The idea behind the Catalogue is to allow upstream knowledge workers to locate information—or ‘stuff’ as Flare likes to refer to it—within the disparate data sources that constitute the Knowledge Information Data (KID) continuum. The trick is to create a trimmed-down list of generic industry information attributes. This approach contrasts with the traditional key word classification. The University of Tulsa Petroleum Abstracts for instance use a 10,000 keyword list—Camden believes that 150 should suffice. Subsequent to Camden’s presentation, the catalogue project has been subsumed into the POSC Data Storage SIG.


Para’s Hamish Wilson presented the BP ‘ILX Portal’—an internet-based system that lets business units load prospect data and compare them with prospects generated within other business units. The ILX Portal facilitates fast, transparent decision making by the asset team.


Richard Wylde announced the release of a new UKOOA Data Exchange format for well deviation data. P7/2000 is now available on the UKOOA website. The format supports exchange of raw and processed well deviation data from single or multiple surveys. The format defines well path trajectories in three dimensional space and handles most international and local coordinate systems.


POSC has taken over the upkeep of the Petroleum Industry Data Dictionary (from the API). Geoshare is coming under the POSC wing and Shell is farming out the Discovery catalogue to POSC for publication. ‘Mergers and meanness’ have led to a shortage of funding and volunteer effort is down. This has not been helped by the fact that ‘POSC’s value proposition has been unclear.’ For 2003, the stretched budget will allow for extension of the well header ML initiative into the Norwegian context. The alignment of existing XML initiatives with the new WITSML work will be looked into and other ML’s developed for more business-oriented processes like joint venture reporting.


BP’s Matthew Kirkman kicked off the WITSML workshop with a review of WITS’ past. Legacy WITS has proved robust and successful. The requirement for XML has come from the operators—to ‘go beyond’ WITS and allow for more integration and a single ‘data instance’. The aim is for ‘better solutions’. WITS was rolled-out as an American Petroleum Institute standard. But then energy declined and the project stagnated. WITS has seen widespread adoption and use even by small companies with niche products. But most WITS functions work at a basic point to point level and it was felt that a replacement of the ASCII data stream with structured XML was necessary. The objective is to have a portable data object which could be sent by email if required. A Baker Hughes/Statoil project was initiated to revitalize WITS and this developed into a BP/Statoil/Shell project. Various XML developments have been done in the commercial sector. Other upstream MLs—WellSchematicML, WellLogML, LogGraphicML, WellPmlotML etc. are proving ‘hard to coalesce’ with WITSML. There is a need for rationalization.

WITSML program

A Real Time Data implementation with ‘get from store’ XML objects is under test by Statoil on the Heidrun and Valhall fields. In 2003, a ‘time-based custodial database’ will capture data which is otherwise lost. A pilot inter-vendor ‘publish and subscribe’ model for static objects will start in 2003. The ‘prize’ is plug and play with no data duplication. For instance it should be possible to ‘test’ a blow out preventer digitally and to reduce offshore head count with fiber connectivity to an onshore network.


Landmark’s Fiona Duguid outlined how Landmark’s ‘Right Time Server’ provides asynchronous WITS or WITSML data. These handle breaks in communications and also connect vanilla WITS to WITSML. The new data flow is from either WITSML (through http) to a Right Time Router (RTR) or from vanilla WITS over a serial filter which translates to WITSML. From the RTR, data is published to WITSML clients. The Server provides summary level browser-based real time monitoring. The RTR leverages Microsoft’s .NET common language runtime.


Nigel Deeks reported on the Schlumberger WITSML API Server (WAS). This supports well, well bore, logs and trajectory. WAS leverages Schlumberger’s InterAct host. Data security is ‘built in’ with 12 bit https—user name/password authorization. WAS makes all wellsite log data available—both streaming and static WITSML documents—and allows programmatic queries for average value, log range etc. along with unit conversion. Deeks showed a neat screenshot of logs, kelly height, gas ‘dials’ and LWD curves. In the pipeline are more WITSML-enabled applications with extend object support for WITSML V1.2 and WITSML for production.


According to Linda Dodge, Shell was a latecomer to WITSML (WML) but is now ‘very enthusiastic’. For Dodge, WML is ‘a great integrator.’ Shell’s objective is to enable ‘better decisions through real time data and vendor neutrality. Shell expects WITSML to be a future well engineering technology enabler. Next year a Shell pilot will test use of WITSML in reporting and real-time data provision from the offshore.


Andy Sentance (Baker Hughes) described the schema-based design of WITSML as offering a ‘web friendly’ applications programming interface (API) using http, SOAP, WSDL and XML. Sentance outlined 3 levels of data transfer – from ‘floppy toss’ file exchange, through client server ‘get from store’ to more sophisticated systems of subscription and notification. All are catered for using the SOAP/XML mechanisms. Data can be filtered to retrieve averages, a specific curve mnemonic or to limit depth ranges. Infrastructure is provided by Apache SOAP and the follow-on project Axis. WITSML is to become a special interest group within POSC—but ‘the same folks will be involved—not much will change’.


Rob MacEwan (ChevronTexaco) provided an update on the status of the American Petroleum Institute’s PIDX data exchange project. A new PIDX charter now provides funding through the API General Committee on Information Management and Technology (GCIMT). The PIDX complex products and services (ComProServ) project links in to UNSPSC product codes—and also is ‘based on’ OFS Portal and Trade Ranger templates. OFS Portal and Trade Ranger are now cooperating in a (part) DTI-funded project to revise the Petroleum Industry Data Dictionary (PIDD). Collaboration with POSC/CAESAR and ISO 15926 is ongoing.

This article is abstracted from a 10 page report on the 2002 POSC Fall member meeting produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch service. For subscription information, email

SPWLA mnemonics

The Society of Professional Well Log Analysts has entered the standards fray with the release of a ‘beta’ version of its new well log tool and curve mnemonics database.

The Society of Professional Well Log Analysts (SPWLA) has released a ‘beta’ version of its well log tool and curve mnemonics database. A rudimentary interface allows for searching of the database.

Search engine

Advanced searches can be performed on multiple fields such as ‘company’ and ‘tool description.’ The search engine allows for partial matches if the exact spelling of a mnemonic is not known.


For those who wish to build their own logging code tables, the SPWLA compiles lists of mnemonics from the major logging service companies. Comment – in our opinion these lists could benefit from some XML-ification!


Oil IT Journal did not attend the fall PPDM AGM and Member Meeting and would like to thank PPDM CEO Scott Beaugrand for supplying us with the proceedings—upon which this report has been based. The PPDM Association is a closely knit, focused community. While the PPDM membership is predominately Canadian, international membership comes from the USA, South America and Australia. The PPDM data model—or variants of it—is used in Finder, IHS Energy’s P2000 database, GeoGraphix, and many other applications. Few companies these days have the resources to build and maintain their own corporate data models, but those that do are quite likely to use the PPDM model as a basis for such work. Presentations from Woodside and Kerr McGee show how PPDM-based models can integrate corporate IT/IM environments incorporating commercial products. PPDM is engaged in an orderly move into e-business with a variety of XML-based data exchange initiatives. These leverage model tables for data exchange, but are also likely to be used in schema-based data QC and in XML-based object stores. The Spatial II project, while it is too closely linked to ESRI proprietary technology to be considered as a standard, is an interesting illustration of the use of ESRI’s new Geodatabase GIS.


Liz Clydesdale describes Woodside Energy as a ‘hands-on’ developer of its corporate database GeoDB which is based on the PPDM data model, and stores both structured and unstructured data. Clydesdale described how the ‘large and complicated’ well test portion of the PPDM data model was rationalized and successfully incorporated GeoDB. Coverage includes well pressure data, pressure analysis and PVT data.

Data Exchange

The PPDM Association’s Rick Taylor gave an update on the data exchange project - PPDM XML test bed. The latest modeling language, SeisML offers XML-based seismic line summary information, ‘product’ information (tapes, documents and reports) and support for processing workflows in the form of request, histories, bin summary and velocities. PPDM Tables ‘ML’ is used in ad-hoc exchanges of data between PPDM data model implementations. A sample schema package includes sample documents and a validation utility. Infrastructure is SOAP, the Java Web Services Development Package (JWSDP) and Apache Tomcat. The project also has a strong generic e-business component as it seeks to “develop XML schemas pertaining to business associate data, work orders, products and information.” In 2003 an ambitious follow up phase of the data exchange project sets out to define XML interfaces to a massive amount of E&P information and applications. Plans for testing Geographic Markup Language (GML) are also included.

Kerr McGee

Kerr McGee is another hands-on PPDM database developer according to Paul Haines. A PPDM-based ‘Operations Data Foundation’ database is central to KMG’s IT architecture which also comprises software such as Merak Peep, IHS Energy P2000+ Oracle Energy, PREMAS and Cognos. The goals of KMG’s Operations Data Warehouse are to provide a world-wide roll up of production information, along with historical trend data and to offer a ‘flexible foundation for future business needs’. KerrMcGee is using the 3.6 release of the PPDM model—with coverage of well header, completion header, test, interest and production reporting. The model has been extended to cover specific Kerr McGee requirements.


Verna Moodie (QByte) and Anne Hand (PetroCanada) reported from the Land workgroup which is developing an international land model to reflect industry and regulatory requirements and business processes that integrate with current and future PPDM subject areas. The model has been designed to cushion against changes in legislation or individual work processes. A ‘strawman’ model is now available for review while elements of the Land model are already in use within member companies.

Technical Update

The PPDM Association’s data architect-in-chief Trudy Curtis provided the annual technical review. Curtis distinguishes between work groups and projects. Work groups produce extensions to the data model according to member needs and with member funds. Projects are ‘industry driven’ and funded with results going to sponsors rather than at-large membership. Work on the PPDM model continues. The last major release, V3.6 was rolled out in December 2001. V 3.7 is waiting on the results of the ongoing work groups.


Colin Knill (PetroSoft Systems) summarized the status of the PDVSA-backed reserves work group. Here the business requirements include the need to “track cu. m. of oil in Canada, tons of oil in Germany and still report in US barrels.” Similar issues arise around gas production and reporting. Such considerations have led to extension of the PPDM data model into reserve definitions, production volumes and economics.


According to Wes Baird (DataMatters Consulting) the problems associated with retrofitting entitlements to the PPDM data model were “more than we bargained for”. The use of a half-dozen new tables and population rules allows PPDM deployers to enable entitlements management. A ‘User Manager’ front end was developed to demonstrate the prototype system. Baird concludes that ‘the PPDM repository can now manage data access.’

Well Log

Harry Schultz (Oilware) leads this Houston-based group which is updating the well log section of the PPDM data model—notably to provide support for raw curve data, acquisition and processing context and to store modern multidimensional and rasterized logs. Curve mnemonics and other reference data can now be stored in data dictionaries. The project is now at the ‘straw model’ stage. Schultz also described how Oilware and Petris have used the PPDM data model to build a log data repository. The repository uses data loading tools from Oilware and Petris’ Winds cataloging and reporting tool.


Greg Hess (Kelman) introduced Kelman’s seismic encapsulation protocol – the ‘Kelman Quartet’ (KQ). KQ is an alternative to the SEG RODE archival standard. Kelman doesn’t like RODE’s complexity and prefers KQ’s leveraging of the PPDM data model, and its ability to access data elements on-line. KQ is made up of four files which describe an archive’s contents. A unique line naming convention is used in the index database.

Spatial II

The Spatial II project is considerably advanced as reported by the PPDM Association’s Ian Batty. The current phase covers well header, directional survey and well test data types. Spatial II uses an ArcView GIS client. Data stored in PPDM or other E&P databases is coupled to GIS information in ESRI SDE or Oracle Spatial. In 2003 the project scope will expand to encompass seismic and pipelines—through the PODS standard.

Application Integration

Gary Basson (LogicCurve) introduced the concept of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) whereby applications from different vendors share data through a common ‘integration broker.’ Basson made the case for EAI in the field of e-business – to send and receive invoices. EAI middleware comes from vendors such as Tibco, webMethods, IBM and SeeBeyond. Basson presented case studies in the fields of pipeline scheduling and accounts payable (using technology from Digital Oilfield) and reserves management (with the Tibco Hub). Less clear (from the slides) was the use of the PPDM data model.


PPDM CEO Scott Beaugrand reported membership as flat from 2001-2002. Distribution is now 64% Canadian, 19% USA and 17% rest of world (only three European members out of 101 total). Revenue has grown to nearly $ CDN 733k in 2002. To underpin the compliance program, PPDM trademarks have been developed and registered. 2003 will see an ongoing marketing effort, and an increase in funding for projects—to a new target budget of $ CDN 805k.

This article is abstracted from a 5 page report on the PPDM AGM and fall member meeting produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch service. For more information, email

RRC’s ‘State of the industry’

The Texas Railroad Commission held its 53rd annual ‘State of the Oil and Gas Industry’ round table earlier this month. On the agenda, some quixotic tilting at the regulator, warnings of demographic doom and a pat on the back for the RRC’s new web-based electronic permitting system ECAP.


Mark Baxter (Maguire Energy Institute) painted a bleak picture of the US domestic oil and gas industry. Industry is in denial over the labor shortage. “A tight market is here today, and our actions are nurturing a further breach of the talent pool.” The domestic industry lost more than a half a million jobs during the oil shocks of the 70’s and 80’s. Today the average age of employees with the majors is 49 and average retirement age is 55. While the computer has brought substantial productivity gains, these have masked the underlying trend. These gains are not sustainable and “future improvements in efficiency will not offset the impending loss of senior expertise that will continue over the next 5-8 years”.


Paul Covert, President of the National Association of Royalty Owners believes that the real state of our industry is one of disrespect and distrust. “From ExxonMobil to Scooter Gibson’s East Texas Mom & Pop Producer, the public thinks we are out to destroy the air and land and reap obscene profits”. Covert asks “why are we not telling them the truth?” He believes there is there is no cleaner fuel today in quantities enough to supply the “enormous energy appetite of the American people.” Education is needed to redress the balance in favor of the oil industry.


Frank Henry of Baker Engineering echoed Baxter fears on the employment situation. Baker is faced with a growing demand for personnel while the supply of skilled workers in all disciplines dwindles. A ‘talent war’ is being fought between companies. This has increased personnel turnover and caused wage escalation. The answer—according to Henry—is better personnel planning and cooperation between industry, educational entities and government agencies.


Mary Ann Pearce (ConocoPhillips) applauded the Commission’s new ECAP web based electronic permitting system. ECAP received a “best of Texas” award from the Center for Digital Government. Pearce reports that the ability to file permits with the Commission and retrieve information electronically has been an important factor in reducing costs and in making quality data available to the public. The Commission has filed about one third of all electronic drilling permits to date.

OpenSpirit embeds ArcView

A new release of the OpenSpirit cross-vendor integration platform includes a GIS data selector built with ESRI’s ArcView.

OpenSpirit (OS) has released Version 2.4 of its application integration platform. OS R 2.4 includes extensions for ESRI’s ArcView Geographical Information System (GIS). The new GIS utilities include the OS Shapes Utility and the OS ArcView Extension. These allow an end-user to browse, visualize and manage seismic, interpretation and well data simultaneously from data stores including Landmark’s OpenWorks, and GeoQuest’s GeoFrame and Finder project data stores.


OS’s CTO Clay Harter says, “The new GIS utilities leverage companies’ existing investment in ArcView and reduce the time it takes to locate and incorporate all relevant data—even with data spanning multiple vendor project data stores, or different versions of the same data store.”


The OS ArcView Extension works as a data selection tool for all OS-enabled applications. The GIS utilities work with all OS viewers including the Section viewer, Well viewer and 3D viewer. Other new OS functions include a revised interpretation system, 2D seismic support, a coordinate transformation service and a new C++ developer library.

Voxelvision gets Statoil investment

VoxelVision has received a cash injection from Statoil’s venture capital arm. Meanwhile, an OpenSpirit link has been announced.

Statoil’s venture capital arm, Statoil Innovation AS (SI) has taken a non-controlling equity position in VoxelVision. SI believes that VoxelVision’s leading edge cluster technology has a large potential in the oil and gas business. Cluster technology is designed to bring super computer power to the end-user.


VoxelVision CEO Ola Fjeld said “We are pleased to welcome SI as a shareholder in the company—a move which will accelerate the development of our company and of our productivity software targeted at solving real oil and gas challenges.”


Both VoxelVision applications, Terra-Studio and GigaViz, are now OpenSpirit enabled. This allows for direct access from the Client PC to Unix datastores over a LAN. 3D volumes, horizons and faults can now be imported into VoxelVision’s applications from Landmark, GeoQuest or Charisma workstations. New interpretations and data edits can also be exported back to the workstation.

IHS new oil forecasting service

Newly re-baptized IHS Energy (the ‘group’ is no more) has announced a new online production forecast reporting service.

IHS Energy has launched a monthly oil production and forecasting service. The ‘Global Oil Production and Forecasting Report’ provides production data, forecasts and commentary on countries producing more than 50,000 barrels of oil per day.


The report is available online through IHS Energy’s Global E&P Information (GEPS) Portal and provides a reference for professionals evaluating E&P opportunities. The Report also targets banks, utilities, contractors, governments and national oil companies, consultants, analysts, traders and oil shippers.


IHS Energy VP Nick Duncan said, “The new Report is compiled from our scouting and production databases so we can provide accurate and consistent data including production statistics, historical tabulation and charts for annual production as well as maps for key basin areas.”

Name change

Meanwhile IHS Energy Group is to change its name to a more straightforward ‘IHS Energy.’ Still doesn’t do anything for the dreaded spellchecker that ‘fixes’ IHS into HIS as fast as you can type!

Mica V3.0

Molli has released a new version of its Mica economics software.

Molli Computer Services, Inc. has released a new version of its petroleum economic analysis software Mica. Version 3.00 now retrieves production history data from ten state agencies at no cost. Entering the state’s identification code for a well (usually the API number) causes Mica to retrieve the most recent production history directly from the state regulatory agency over the internet.


Other Mica features include decline curve and economic analysis, gas well analysis, test analysis, engineering calculators and user-defined, graphs and reports. Mica runs on all versions Windows and supports color printers and data exchange with spreadsheets. More from

Intel tunes Saudi Fortran

Intel has been working with Saudi Aramco to tune Fortran code running on its 1,800 cluster seismic computer.

Intel Solution Services (ISS) have been helping Saudi Aramco’s geophysical programmers optimize their pre-stack time migration code. This runs on an 1,800 processor cluster located in Dhahran. During two days of ‘intensive programming’, Intel Solution Services optimized the PSTM code using the Intel Fortran for Linux 6.0 compiler and the Intel VTune Performance Analyzer to identify parts of the code for further optimization.


ISS’ Gernot Hoyler said, “We got the PSTM application to run 33 percent faster on the same Intel Chip. With additional tuning, we hope to boost performance by 50 percent.” Saudi Aramco’s PSTM application runs on a cluster of 900 IBM rack mounted nodes, each with 2GB of memory and twin, 1.4 GHz Pentium III processors. The operating system is RedHat Linux 7.2 and the cluster interconnect is 100Mb Fast Ethernet. The system, which started out with 128 processors is to grow to 4,000 by the end of 2002.

Petoro opts for ASP

State oil company Petoro AS has selected Landmark’s Norwegian subsidiary PetroData to supply hosted applications and data.

Landmark’s Norwegian unit PetroData has signed with the recently established Norwegian state-owned company Petoro AS for the delivery of petrotechnical software, along with integrated data and application management services. These will be provided from PetroData’s hosting centre in Stavanger. Petrodata will use Landmark’s Team Workspace portal to serve applications from Landmark, Roxar (RMS) and other vendors. Petoro will use the hosted data and software to enable collaboration with license operators, partners and consultants.


Tor Skjaerpe, technology director for Petoro said, “Petoro’s benefits from this solution are increased flexibility, lower operating cost and improved availability over traditional in-house data and applications management. The solution will also implements a ‘virtual asset’ which will enable Petoro to work in network-based teams together with operators, partners, public bodies and consultants. Petoro chose Petrodata based on their track record for information hosting solutions and a competitive price.”

Divestco catches ‘rat’

Divestco has acquired Digi-Rule—the developer of the hand-held ‘rat’ seismic digitizing system.

Digi-Rule—best known for its ‘rat’ digitizer—has been acquired by Calgary-based Inc. Divestco specializes in oil and gas mapping and data retrieval software, geophysical interpretation software, mineral rights divestment, seismic data brokerage and seismic data services.


Divestco president Matthew Puzey said, “Digi-Rule’s geological and synthetic seismic applications and Divestco’s mapping, geophysical, data management and retrieval applications create the most comprehensive suite of oil and gas software available in Canada.”


In January 2001 Divsestco amalgamated with Petromap and CD PubCo. The company offers monthly, online land auctions, the MapQ base mapping system, and the GeoVista Geographic Information System. More from

President Fox visits Pemex seismic center

President Vicente Fox was in attendance at the opening of Paradigm’s new Mexican visualization center. Fox saw how VoxelGeo was used in a recent Pemex discovery.

Paradigm’s Mexican associate

Geoprocesados has found a new use for the Visionarium—wowing the President! Mexican head of state Vicente Fox expressed his admiration for the technology during the opening of a new visualization center dedicated to Pemex’s CNPS (Centro Nacional de Processamiento Seismico).


Speaking at the inauguration,
Geoprocesados general manager Javier Rubio said, “We’re very happy about our cooperation with Paradigm, which helps us provide Pemex with the latest technology.”


CNPS general manager Arturo Perez Aldana added, “Advanced technology use is crucial for exploration in the complex geology of our region. Paradigm’s solutions enable us to achieve results in a fraction of the time it would take using other methods.”


CNPS deploys Paradigm’s VoxelGeo, GeoDepth, Probe and StratiMagic software. At the inauguration a major recent discovery was presented by Pemex Exploration Manager Adan Oviedo who emphasized Pemex’s success in implementing new technologies to improve exploration results.

Proprietary e-business for ConocoPhillips….

ConocoPhillips Canada is using electroBusiness’ e-commerce hub for automatic invoice processing. electroBusiness e-business Utility Microsoft’s leverages Microsoft’s .NET web infrastructure.

ConocoPhillips Canada has signed with Calgary-based electroBusiness for the provision of e-business related software and services. electroBusiness is to connect ConocoPhillips’ suppliers electronically and to automate invoicing using the company’s e-business Utility document exchange platform.


electroBusiness is to manage and support supplier adoption of the software for ConocoPhillips while its e-business Utility (EBU) is expected to enhance ConocoPhillips’ internal invoice processing.

150 vendors

Under the terms of the agreement, over 150 of ConocoPhillips’ preferred suppliers ConocoPhillips will be notified by the parties to commence electronic invoicing. Suppliers will be able to submit invoices directly from their accounting systems using the proprietary EBU platform.


Cal Fairbanks, CEO of electroBusiness, said, “electroBusiness is focused on supporting and servicing the supplier community and ConocoPhillips recognizes the value that we bring to both them and their suppliers. By being connected to the e-Business Utility, these vendors can also electronically invoice their other customers and trading partners. ConocoPhillips shares our vision to provide suppliers with an open and flexible solution that benefits all trading partners.”

260 signed-up

As of December 2002, electroBusiness had signed up over 260 vendors which are now connected with the EBU and can send and receive electronic invoices, purchase orders and payment notifications.


The EBU eliminates traditional Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) documents and associated costs—although EBU documents can be translated into EDI for cross-platform compatibility. EBU is claimed to be simpler and more flexible than EDI and allows companies to leverage their internal accounts receivable systems and processes. Other EBU buyer-side users include BP, Central Alberta Midstream, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and CPR.


Partners PricewaterhouseCoopers and Microsoft co-developed the web front end to the EBU with the intent of ‘equipping the whole industry’ with e-business solutions leveraging Microsoft’s .NET infrastructure—see Oil ITJ Vol 7 No. 7. More from

… and PIDX ‘first’ for Anadarko

Digital Oilfield is claiming a ‘first’ in its use of the API’s PIDX XML standard for invoice processing. Anadarko transacted with logging specialist Lonkar through Digital Oilfield’s OpenInvoice application.

Calgary-based Digital Oilfield recently hosted what is claimed as the first PIDX XML Invoice Transaction. The transaction, based on the American Petroleum Institute’s new PIDX XML standard, was successfully brokered by Digital Oilfield’s OpenInvoice application. Anadarko Canada Corporation received an invoice from wireline contractor Lonkar Services Ltd. through Oilfield’s Open-Invoice e-business application.


Digital Oilfield has worked closely with operating companies and suppliers to help develop the API PIDX document standards to support upstream oil and gas processes, and was an active participant in the PIDX ComProServ (Complex Products and Services) sub-committee. In 2000 and 2001, Digital Oilfield was a member of the first pilot team of ComProServ that developed and tested electronic field ticket to invoice transactions between suppliers and operating companies. The current production version of OpenInvoice supports the PIDX XML transaction standards using PIDX formats for invoice document exchange


Lonkar controller Wayne Forrest said, “This new functionality has enabled us to import invoices and information directly from our own system into OpenInvoice—and has opened up new opportunities to work with other operating companies.”


Digital Oilfield president Rod Munro said, “We understand that the creation and adoption of standards is a key component in the success of e-business. Previous efforts in this area, in particular EDI, have met with limited success because there was still a great deal of customization required on both the buyer and seller’s side of a transaction. With the PIDX XML standards, we now have a format that has been sanctioned by the API, and that will greatly simplify this process for all participants in a transaction. We are very pleased to be the first company to use this standard in a live invoice transaction.” The press release did not say whether Anadarko has actually paid the invoice yet!

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