March 2005

Big Red patents real time!

Halliburton’s US patent for ‘real time reservoir management’ spans the whole ‘digital oilfield’ and raises many issues of how and why patents are granted—and their effect on competition.

Halliburton has been awarded a patent whose scope covers virtually the whole of real time reservoir management. The abstract of US patent N° 6,853,921 for a ‘system for real time reservoir management’ describes an oilfield control loop, whereby feedback from measurement systems operates valves and actuators to optimize production. Such techniques form the core of initiatives such as the ‘e-field’, ‘digital oilfield’ and ‘field of the future’.

Prior art

The preamble refers to ‘state of the art’ devices and technologies from companies such as Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, BP, Geoservices and Kappa Engineering, to conclude that ‘50-70% of a reservoir engineer’s time is spent manipulating data for use in computer programs [..] to obtain a ‘desired’ production forecast.’ This has resulted in adjustments to production systems for better reservoir performance ‘without an understanding of how these may affect reservoir management as a whole’.

The ‘invention’

Halliburton’s ‘invention’ includes a suite of computer programs that ‘seamlessly’ interface with each other to generate a field wide production and injection forecast’. The output is the real time control of downhole production and injection control devices. The detailed description of the patent reads like the collected works of the Landmark marketing department. Along with a tip of the hat to Kappa Engineering, pretty well all of Halliburton, Landmark and Geographix’ software gets a mention.


The patent enumerates production technologies including ‘permanent downhole sensors and pressure-control devices, retrievable packers, communication protocols, umbilicals, mild steel bumber bars’ etc. Geological and reservoir modeling (possibly with Eclipse) also run as do nodal analysis and economics. Various scenarios illustrate how the output of field sensors could be used to drive actuators in a simulation/optimization context.


Furthermore, the patent is ‘not limited to the embodiment disclosed, but is capable of numerous modifications without departing from the scope of the invention as claimed.’ A recent meeting of the SPE Real-Time TIG discussed the defensive patenting of common work processes without reaching a conclusion—but some small companies are greatly exercised by the practice.
More on Halliburton’s patent in this month’s editorial (Page 2).

Enerdeq for IHS content

IHS Energy is rolling out a new web services based data delivery system and parent company Information Handling Services is going public.

Unveiled at the ESRI PUG, IHS Energy’s new Enerdeq data delivery system offers web services-based access to the company’s information services. Enerdeq provides a single view across all of IHS Energy’s data sets and ‘accelerates the data-to-decision cycle through a variety of access methods.’


Enerdeq, which evolved from a previous Arc IMS-based ‘Lonetree’ project initiative, uses the emerging W3C web services architecture including XML/SOAP (see our report from the ESRI PUG on pages 6&7 of this issue). The Enerdeq web browser uses a map interface, text-based query, or a combination of both to produce listings, create reports or graphs or export data.

IHS goes public

Last month, IHS Energy’s parent company, Information Handling Services of Englewood, CO filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission relating an initial public offering (IPO) of ‘up to’ $350 million of its Class A common stock. The shares are being offered by IHS and certain of its stockholders. The IPO is being managed by Goldman Sachs and Citibank.

Real time patent nonsense from Halliburton?

Neil McNaughton discusses Halliburton’s ‘real time’ patent which covers pretty much all of the ‘digital oilfield’ (a.k.a. ‘field of the future’ or ‘e-field’). He looks back to the state of real time art in 2001, when the application was made, discusses the role of ‘mutually assured destruction’ in software patents—to conclude that ‘catch all’ patents like this are probably a bad thing.

First, apologies for the lateness of this issue. This is a busy time of the year—when our conference schedule tends to get in the way of the production process. I’m writing this on the 1st April and it is hard not to connect that date with this month’s lead on Halliburton’s real time patent. Except that the application was filed in October 2001.

Out of the box?

The filing date means that the authors were certainly thinking ahead, and to an extent, outside of the box. In 2001, most of the industry was focused on the internet and e-commerce in one form or another. But that does not mean that real time production optimization was unheard of—as some quick research on Oil shows.


In April 2001, Schlumberger acquired Baker Jardine—whose ProdMan software was described at the time as ‘enhancing oilfield profitability by surveillance, optimization and automation.’ In June 2001, Schlumberger was ‘fighting the down-trending depletion curve’ through ‘increased linkage of technical and business systems.’


Defending his ill-fated acquisition of Sema Group, Schlumberger chairman Euan Baird claimed ‘enormous interest from oil and gas clients on the potential of [..] real-time reservoir monitoring and control.’ Early 2002, more wheeling and dealing in the sim-opt space led Aspen Technology to acquire Calgary-based Hyprotech from AEA Technology for $99 million cash. In 2001 therefore, real time production optimization was certainly being mooted by Halliburton’s main competitor—and also by a few specialist software houses. The major oils likely had in-house programs in the real time, simulation/optimization space.


In May 2000, real time reservoir management was the subject a session in MIT’s ‘Disruptive Technologies’ conference. I suppose you could argue that if MIT deemed real time ‘disruptive’ in 2000, maybe that made it a good target for an aggressive patent application in 2001.

Plant automation

Today, if you Google ‘real time simulation optimization’ (RTSO), you’ll see a plethora of references to plant automation, process control—especially from oil refineries where these practices have been in use for a few decades.

A disclaimer

Before I go on, a disclaimer is in order. This is an editorial, I don’t know diddly about patent law—although we looked at this matter in some depth at the time of Amoco’s patent infringement suit against Landmark back in 1997 (OITJ Vol. 2 N° 7). Time also precludes an in depth review of the patent application itself—maybe there are gems of technological innovation that we overlooked. Bearing these caveats in mind though, I have to say that the Halliburton patent is of such breadth and nebulosity that one has to ask what the US patent office is actually looking for.


You might imagine that a patent person might be looking for accurate language—something that might be reasonably debated in a court of law, should the patent ever be tested. If I was a patent examiner, I would delete, for instance, a reference to ‘computer programs that seamlessly interface with each other’. After all, if Halliburton, or anybody else, made computer programs ‘seamlessly interface’ with anything, this issue of Oil IT Journal would shrink to 50% of its size, half its readers would be out of a job and the Oil IT Journal production process (a monthly struggle involving Microsoft Word, Publisher, Excel, Access, Visual Basic and more—none of which ‘seamlessly’ operate with each other) would take half as long.


I would look for reasonable granularity and scope in an application. A ‘field wide management system’ seems too broad—a patent on a whole work process which, even if aspects may be new, embeds too much prior art. I would also apply the reverse banality test* to stuff like ‘[the] system [..] provides for better reservoir management, thereby maximizing the value of the asset to its owner.’ Doh!


Conventional wisdom in the software industry sees such broad, probably untestable patents as part of a policy of ‘mutually assured destruction’ (MAD). The idea being that say IBM and Microsoft hold patents on everything—but refrain from exercising them for fear of retaliation. Patent MAD might work in a bipolar world, but the potential impact of a coverall patent on a startup could be disastrous. The slackness of the US patent system might be preparing us for a world where startups need a few million dollars of patent infringement liability insurance before they can get off the ground.


You can’t really fault Halliburton for trying to stake some kind of a claim to the RTSO space—they are indeed one of the main players. But it does seem ridiculous that the US patent office grants patents of such vagueness and scope—presumably on the basis that the law courts will sort things out a posteriori. This is great—for the lawyers! For the technology industry, it would be better to have a bit more science and linguistic rigor applied to the award process.

* Reverse Banality Test—see the December 2004 editorial.

IQPC Oilfield Automation conference

Presentations at the first US edition of IQPC’s oilfield automation conference ranged from SAIC’s ‘Next Generation Oilfield’ to Pavilion’s oilfield ‘factory,’ Pioneer’s ‘democratized’ data access and Inteq’s virtual operations center. Oilfield automation is technological crossroads. It may be a while before production facilities are really run like factories, but this is where things are heading.

Keynote speaker Don Moore described how Oxy is using oilfield automation (OFA) to meet production targets and to optimize corporate acquisitions. Oxy’s OFA scope spans well construction, operation surveillance and asset management and leverages Case Services’ Life Oil Well Integration System (LOWIS), MRO Software’s Maximo asset management package and Oxy’s ERP system. Field data is served up as key performance indicators over the Oxy Dashboard, increasing Oxy’s ability to react quickly and to fix production problems as they happen.

Oilfield Automation Systems

Cleon Dunham (Oilfield Automation Systems) pointed out that oilfield automation isn’t new, it started in the 1960s. A good surveillance system goes beyond the presentation of information and focuses on enabling corrective action. Electric submersible pumps (ESP) require top-quality monitoring to avoid damage and capital loss. Dunham maintains a database of ESP and progressive cavity pump data, the ‘Reliability Information and Failure Tracking System.’ Others are invited to share such information on


Glen Klimchuk described SAIC’s ‘next generation oilfield’ (NGO) program as spanning G&G, development, reservoir engineering, operations—right through to sales. NGO techniques are applicable to mature, marginal fields with large EOR programs and low per well productivity. Field data, the data historian and applications are linked through an integration layer to the asset dashboard for reporting. SAIC’s NGO solutions leverage components from Cognos, Microstrategy, Business Objects and Hyperion. Real time architectures can be based on .NET or J2EE web services. Shell is using the NGO program to ‘change its E&P business.’


For Bob Bacon, Pavilion Energy Services, the oilfield is a ‘factory’ and the same automation techniques can be applied. Pavilion’s I-field Perfecter uses the ‘objective function’ to maximize field value without violating downhole pressure constraints. The model can be run in real-time and adapted to sensor data and operator set objectives. The company’s ‘mission-critical’ software includes over 100 integration drivers, a bespoke GUI and over 100 patents.


Pat McGinley described how the Baker Expert Advisory Centers/Operation Network (BEACON) evolved from early data centers in the North Sea. Conventional, in-house data centers are ‘great, but not practical’. McGinley believes that investment in in-house data centers will be pulled back as companies look to more efficient solutions. The BEACON model is just that, a slimmed down data center aimed less at offshore head count reduction and more at virtual team building. Baker’s GOM center monitors 15-20 plus wells at any given time, through an extranet site with secure, entitlement-controlled client access. WITSML is a great enabler in all this and has broken down barriers between service companies which operated their own proprietary data systems in the past.


Don Colley’s company, DGC Consulting, is specialized in gas management and energy saving. Colley’s Energy Efficiency KPI is obtained by dividing the energy equivalent of production by the energy ‘cost’ of production. The ‘cost’ can be energy, or ‘eco-efficiency’ metrics like CO2 or sulfur emissions. KPI granularity goes from pumps and compressor energy efficiency to high level, wellhead to point of sale energy ‘intensity.’ So far 22 production facilities have been benchmarked. Colley commented that today, most plants are not even monitored.


Jaleel Valappil described the Bechtel/ConocoPhilips joint Global LNG Collaboration. A ‘virtual’ LNG plant has been developed in AspenTech’s HySys and DeltaV Simulate Pro. This enables testing and optimization. Process simulation is conducted in Matlab. Valappil advocates ‘open software standards’ – specifically ActiveX/COM, CAPE OPEN and OPC. These enable different simulation tools to cooperate and provide a ‘platform independent’ modeling framework.

This article was taken from a 9 page report in The Data Room’s Technology Watch series. More from

Peloton’ MasterView drilling database

A new database solution integrates drilling and well operations data and web reporting.

Peloton has just announced MasterView, its new solution for integration, access and quality of drilling and well operation data. MasterView combines Peloton’s WellView and SiteView data models with new data management tools for enhanced data access and integration.


SiteView maintains a history of site information, including construction detail, costs, vendors, equipment, contamination and treatments. Other facility and pipeline information can also be captured. In the new release, the WellView and SiteView data models have been integrated and augmented to track more well and lease data. A new ‘MasterView’ integrator provides bi-directional data flow between drilling operations and site construction. Mud information, job and well status, can flow back to SiteView for future reclamation and remediation operations.

Web Reporting

A web reporting tool provides read-only access to WellView and SiteView data. Reports are generated in Adobe PDF format and can include graphical elements such as wellbore schematics. Pre-defined well/site lists or queries can be used to access reports.

TNK-BP selects Irap RMS and Tempest

Roxar expands Russian presence with 100 license deal for reservoir modeling and simulation.

Russian oil company TNK-BP has awarded Roxar a ‘multi-million’ dollar contract for reservoir modeling and simulation software. Roxar’s 3D reservoir modeling software, Irap RMS and its Tempest reservoir simulator are to be deployed at TNK-BP’s R&D centers including the Tyumen Research and Technology Center, the Izhevsk Research and Technology Center, TNK Nyagan, TNK Nizhnevartovsk, Samotlorneftegaz and Varyoganneftegaz. The deal includes over 100 software licenses.


Roxar CEO, Sandy Esslemont said, ‘Roxar’s strength lies in its solutions, which enable everybody involved in the discovery-to-production lifecycle to share critical information, work together more effectively and maximize reservoir performance. This will enable TNK-BP to maximize reservoir performance and profitability.’ Other Roxar customers in the CIS include Lukoil, Bashneft, Sibneft, Tatneft, Rosneft and Zarubejneft. Roxar also partners with CIS petroleum geology institutes, including the I.M. Gubkin State University for Oil and Gas, Moscow State University and Tyumen State University.

100,000 headcount

TNK-BP, employs more than 100,000 people and in 2004, produced an average of 1.44 million barrels per day. The company is 50% owned by BP and 50% by a Russian investors Alfa Group, Access Industries and Renova (AAR).

INT’s CarnacGIS .NET to offer spatial queries

INT’s C# development toolkit lets developers embed interactive maps in applications.

Houston-based software house Interactive Network Technologies (INT), has just announced availability of CarnacGIS .NET 2.0. Designed for the Microsoft .NET environment, CarnacGIS .NET allows software developers to integrate spatial queries and interactive map views into their own applications. CarnacGIS .NET offers a rich graphics environment for building stand-alone or web-enabled clients for spatial data analysis. CarnacGIS components promote reusability and consistency across applications and allow developers to focus on their core technologies rather than spend time writing data displays.


INT president Olivier Lhemann said, ‘CarnacGIS.NET provides a powerful environment for developing solutions in C#. The package is certified for .NET managed code, providing our customers with the utmost confidence in the software’s reliability and performance.’

New functionality

The new release introduces support for ‘windowless’ plots, language localization and ‘refactoring’ of models, layers and features to a .NET-compliant programming style.

Welling & Co proposes upstream IT survey

Market Researchers, backed by Schlumberger and Halliburton, to survey upstream decision makers.

Houston-based IT market researchers Welling & Company is inviting oilfield service companies and operators to participate in an interview-based survey of ‘key decision makers’ in the petroleum industry. The study promises a ‘comprehensive assessment’ of the status and trends of information technology (IT) in E&P, with particular reference to real-time, integrated operations.


The study, whose initial impetus came from Schlumberger and Halliburton, will investigate levels of IT knowledge, use and operating practices. IT value and its impact on exploration, drilling and production will be studied. Around 200 interviews are planned with executives and key decision-makers in operating companies around the world.


These will be presented in a 500 page report and on an interactive CD-ROM. A ‘stand-up’ presentation of the results with question and answer session will be available. Cost of the study is $25,000 for sponsors signing up before April 15, 2005.

IES rolls-out PetroMod 9.0

New version of petroleum systems modeling package includes ‘Tectonic Link’.

Germany-based IES has just announced Petromod 9.0 for complex petroleum systems modeling with a new ‘Tectonic Link’, improved fault handling, groundwater flow and kinetics. A new 3D Map Viewer enhances presentation and interpretation of results.

Load sharing

Also new are improved model management tools, a unit converter and a new load sharing facility for automated distribution of simulation runs across multiple processors. A tree based graphical user interface has been added to the PetroRisk uncertainty modeling tool along with a workflow-oriented GUI. Other modules benefit from multiple usability tweaks and technological enhancements.

Isatis models multi-million cell grids.

Geovariances’ new release interoperates with GoCad, ArcView and offers ‘macro variable’ statistics.

French geostatistical specialist Geovariances’ Isatis package has new data exchange formats for improved interoperability. Along with integration with EDS’ Gocad, the IFP’s RML and ESRI’s ArcView, Isatis now imports LAS log and deviation survey data. Isatis 5.1 introduces a new ‘QQ-Plot’ application for comparison of experimental distributions of two distinct variables.


Isatis user Jean Marc Chautru, of the IFP’s consulting arm, Beicip-Franlab said, ‘We use Isatis to model petrophysical properties of stacked grids of up to 30 million cells. Customized journal files and batch procedures automate the process.’ Isatis is also used to analyze local distribution of simulated values, useful in depth modeling.


Recent Isatis deployments include Newfield Exploration of Houston, Total, Amerada Hess, Anadarko and Petrobras.

IHS Energy to market Trango data solution

Pulse Data unit provides GIS-based asset management solution for upstream data.

IHS Energy has signed a joint marketing agreement with Pulse Data unit Trango Technologies to market Trango’s exploration data management software and solutions. IHS Energy’s Data Logic Services division will be providing sales and support for Trango’s products in the US. IHS Energy and Trango will work together to provide data migration, support, training and related data-quality services.


IHS Energy’s Jim Wortham said, ‘Trango is well known in Canada for its high-quality, user-friendly applications, which are critical for cataloging E&P data assets. This agreement will enable us to offer our US customers a turnkey software and services solution for managing physical E&P data assets.’


Trango president Deryl Williams added, ‘IHS’ Data Logic division is a leader in data management for the oil and gas industry, and we were impressed with its reputation for customer service, which is essential to our mutual clients.’


Trango software covered by the alliance includes Trango Manager and Trango Viewer. Trango Manager combines ESRI GIS technology, with Oracle on a Microsoft .NET framework to let E&P companies track, display, modify and deliver their seismic, well and related exploration data assets. The Viewer application provides dynamic access to Trango Manager through the company intranet.

Mercury renders CGG’s seismic volumes

VolumeViz’ Large Data Management technology offers Geocluster users high-end visualization.

CGG is to embed volume visualization tools from Mercury Computer Systems in the latest version of its Geocluster seismic processing package. Mercury’s Open Inventor and VolumeViz LDM (large data management) visualization components will let seismic processors run compute-intensive applications involving the visualization of large data volumes and detailed graphic interpretation.


CGG’s head of R&D, Pascal Rosset, said, ‘One of the most important shifts taking place in seismic processing, visualization and interpretation is in the area of interaction. VolumeViz LDM provides scalable, flexible and performant rendering, even on desktop platforms. This improves interaction with our continuously growing seismic data volumes.’


Mercury VP Bernard Cazeaux added, ‘VolumeViz LDM technology allows access to extremely large data sets, while providing a highly interactive user experience. Users perceive immediate data display, volumes can be navigated smoothly and slices and probes are responsive at all times.’

Diskos reveals prequalification process

Norwegian database group initiates search for Petrobank’s replacement and future operations.

The Norwegian Diskos consortium, an industry and government-backed grouping offering data management and access services to the Norwegian offshore oil industry is about to post an announcement in Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) regarding the prequalification process for the development, provision and maintenance of software for operation of the Diskos database.


The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), member and manager of Diskos, subcontracts both the software and operation of the database in two separate contracts which may be combined in the future. The scope of work is to develop, provide and maintain software for the operation of the Diskos database. One of the aims is to arrive at a software solution with a functionality and capacity ‘equal to or better than the current software in use’ i.e. Petrobank, originally developed by IBM, subsequently acquired by Landmark.

5 year contract

The contract will be awarded for an initial five year period with an option to extend. Contact the NPD for more.

ESRI Petroleum User Group 2005

There were around 900 in attendance at the 2005 ESRI PUG—a record. The hot stuff for ESRI is the new ArcGIS Server which unifies ArcGIS, ArcIMS and ArcSDE in what is today a .NET-based web services model. ChevronTexaco, Shell and OMV described their very different corporate GIS deployments. The lack of true 3D functionality is exercising ESRI’s oil and gas users—the current 2D solution isn't up to reservoir model visualization. Pipeline data model wars are back with ESRI’s APDM model lending support to the ISAT camp. Finally, a new ESRI Developer Network subscription is now available offering all products and development tools for a modest fee.

ESRI’s Clint Brown offered a keynote which emphasized new ESRI technologies—the emerging web services based ArcGIS Server, a new ArcReader ‘swipe tool’ for paging between different datasets for change detection and a cute 3D view for publishing ArcGlobe documents. ArcGIS Server, which unifies ArcGIS, ArcIMS and ArcSDE, lets users create complex, dynamic maps which can be served to remote web clients via SOAP/XML. ArcGIS Server should help companies integrate software environments although it currently only supports the Microsoft .NET framework. Brown insisted that ‘web services are in the mainstream of ESRI development’—even though they are currently ‘a bit shaky’. Microsoft Visual Studio 2003 was described as ‘fragile.’ Popup killers present a danger for web services and performance varies. ESRI is testing integration with SAP’s NetWeaver platform.


John Calkins (ESRI) offered a offered a GIS fireworks display analyzing satellite imagery over what was presented as a ‘nuclear fuel enrichment facility’ at Natanz, Iran. Calkins (an ex-geologist) showed how geoprocessing was used to ‘explore’ for similar facilities, taking account of constraints such as proximity of roads, distance from centers of population and especially, earthquakes. The latter led to Calulkin’s ‘aha! moment’ as the reason for the Natanz site became evident. Time variant data in ArcMap was used to ‘replay’ the history of construction. Calkin suggested this could be leveraged in oil and gas exploration for competitor analysis.


Gregory Schutz showed how pervasive GIS has become in ChevronTexaco (CTC). From plate tectonic reconstruction, through competitor analysis, seismic well and pipeline planning to retail market location of service stations. One intriguing application involves the 50,000 strong tanker truck fleet that CTC operates. The tachometer is coupled to a GIS and can be used to observe excessive breaking or acceleration. Such information can be used to coach driver behavior or, in extremis, a supervisor can call the cops and hit a button that slows the truck down to 5-10 mph! CTC’s global GIS vision is for all data in a single database image, enabled by SDE. Schultz also showed a CTX internally developed decision support tool iDeSIDE. This integrates unstructured document access via MetaCarta and a bidirectional link between ArcMap and Spotfire’s DecisionSite.


Thierry Gregorius presented Shell’s global enterprise rollout of ArcGIS 9—under a ‘groundbreaking agreement’ with ESRI. For Shell, GIS is the ‘Swiss army knife’ of the energy business. Each regional office has a GIS master database with binary data in SDE, and geometry in Oracle SDO. Project environments leverage the ESRI Personal GeoDatabase to offer live GIS data at the desktop. A ‘sophisticated’ support model is being rolled out, linked to Shell’s global, 7x24 IT help desk. Asked how GIS could be improved, Gregorius requested, ‘No more bugs please!’ According to ‘a study,’ GIS produces some of the most bug-ridden software of any industry. Shell’s Portal gives seamless web text search for any GIS feature. Users click on a feature and a keyword is supplied to all Google tools available. Gregorius observed that while Portals are great, ArcGIS cartography and high quality paper maps remain ‘core business’ to Shell. Metadata and catalogs make predictable and reliable retrieval of relevant data.


OMV’s GIS workflows were the subject of Achim Kamelger’s presentation. Following the acquisition of Petrom last year, Vienna-based OMV now has 65,000 employees. OMV’s GIS projects are of a similar scope to CTC above and depend on consistent attribute names in layer files and SQL queries to build useful maps. OMV stores its GIS data in a geodatabase on an SDE server and is ‘trying to eliminate Shapefiles’. Problems include the fact that not all mapping applications can plug in to the SDE server, locking of the personal geodatabase and user management (hard to synchronize with LDAP, Active Directory). OMV’s MIS system gets production data from the field and serves maps and pie charts over ArcIMS. Future developments will include links to Petrel, GeoFrame, OpenWorks, Eclipse and Petrosys. Open Spirit will likely be a key component of the solution. OMV’s GIS is also moving mid/downstream.

Shell Oil Products

Shawn Hansson described how Shell Oil Products was using pipeline data management to support risk and integrity assessment. Much impetus for the work came from the US DOT risk management program which mandated inspection programs that matched local conditions and also led to consequence modeling. With help from Geofields, Shell uses GIS analytically in its risk assessment program. This is scheduled to last four years and will cover 10,000 pipeline miles and over 100 terminals.


Brad Taggart (Petroweb) was enthusiastic about web services in ArcGIS server. Service oriented architecture (SOA) is not new, previously there were DCOM and CORBA. But these have been ‘eclipsed’ by web services. Web services are platform neutral and ‘easier to develop’ than DCOM. The downside is performance, ‘your mileage may vary.’ Taggart suggests that if all you need is to put a map on a web page, then use ArcIMS. But ArcGIS Server provides the whole functionality of ArcObjects including geocoding and geoprocessing over the web. Current Petroweb projects include an area of interest (AOI) application which kicks off proximity searches across multiple databases. Subsequently, web services monitor events occurring within the AOI and notifies users when new data arrives.

3D Working group

Shell’s Brian Boulmay chaired the 3D working group which is attempting to help move ESRI technology into the 3D modeling field – recognizing that it would be unwise to ‘re-create Petrel in ESRI’. The ESRI user community would like to be able to drop a Petrel (or other geoscience) model into a future ‘voxel-enabled’ 3D ESRI product. Shell and others consider the lack of true 3D functionality in ArcGIS as the main roadblock on ESRI’s further progress in the oil industry. Today, ESRI’s products support only 2 D – i.e. they can model simple, vertically extruded shapes like buildings. Current thinking is that ESRI will not hold the master copy of a 3D model. Linkage could be via Open Spirit, Petrosys tools or using ESRI/Safe Software’s ArcGIS Data Interop plug-in. Boulmay described Shell’s workflows as ‘huge processes’ involving spatializing OpenWorks data, loading to ArcScene and archiving in SDE. The possibility of Landmark and Schlumberger storing data in SDE was raised, but it would seem that ‘neither want to store data in a proprietary [ESRI] data model.’ Hence the desire for an ‘open’ 3D model. The working group’s goal is to ‘influence ESRI’s future development, not to create solutions’.


Petris’ Robert Maggio’s paper on the Digital Pipeline traced the history of pipeline GIS from the alignment sheets of the 1980s to SCADA/GIS Integration of the 1990s. Today, the pipeline world is moving on to automated one-call processing, field data recording and pipeline databases. On the topic of which, the ‘pipeline database wars’ have been rekindled somewhat with ESRI’s APDM spatial pipeline data model. This endorses the MJ Harden-backed ISAT data model – and leaves the more ‘open’ PODS community out in the cold. The reality is though that many PODS members make a living moving data around from one format to another. In a sense, the more models the merrier—bring ’em on!

Gas Leak Detection

Darryl Murdock, ITT Industries, used Visual Basic and ESRI tools to develop its ANGEL airborne leak inspection system. Twin data streams allow for plane routing and targeting of sensors. Tortuousity parameters and ‘wifferdils’ tune the flight path. An extended ArcGIS tool bar allows for post flight data analysis, with videos linked to maps of pipe routes. Leaks are detected using a Laser by measuring minute changes in ground reflectivity. The US DOT sponsored a test at Rocky Mountain Test center over a simulated, leaky pipeline.

This article has been taken from a longer, illustrated report produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Reporting Service. More from

Oil ITJ Interview—Charles Fried, BP

Charles Fried, BP GIS guru and ESRI PUG luminary told Oil IT Journal that BP’s disparate GIS community has ‘seen the light,’ captures GIS metadata and is reaping the mapping rewards.

OITJ—What’s hot in GIS?

Fried—GIS in exploration and development is really picking up. Regulations are driving GIS use in the pipeline industry.

OITJ—Where is BP regarding ‘dumb’ Shapefiles vs. live maps?

Fried—We use both. There is some live data but layers can be updated on a regular basis. BP is very decentralized, and I’m trying to find out what’s going on myself! We have a BP GIS meet in parallel with the PUG. There is a push to standardize on Arc 9, and a focus on pipeline HCA* and maintenance. A lot is happening in upstream too—half of the top ten GIS users in Houston are geoscientists. GIS enables software and data integration that can’t be done with Landmark’s tools. In development, GIS links surface information with environment data.

OITJ—But Landmark embeds ESRI?

Fried—Yes and no. OpenExplorer embeds ArcView 3.2. This five year old technology has not evolved. It’s good at supplying Shapefiles to other applications. Schlumberger’s Finder does a better job—it is spatially enabled with SDE.

OITJ—What’s BP’s take on web services?

Fried—We’re not doing much here. This needs a top down approach to infrastructure. Our Houston server is a stand-alone machine—and we don’t have ArcIMS.

OITJ—What are your current projects?

Fried—I see GIS as the ‘Microsoft Office’ of mapping and as a part of the move away from data stored in disparate Excel spreadsheets. ArcMap and ArcCatalog have been very significant. You can ‘mix and match’ projections on the fly—in the Gulf of Mexico you can drop metric data in one CRS** onto a second projection in feet. Now geoscientists are publishing their own metadata along with layers—they have ‘seen the light’. Users make a map, park it on the server—as a Shapefile or increasingly in SDE. This helps retrieval and saves on data maintenance.

OITJ—Do you do geoprocessing?

Fried—We tried using Spatial Analyst to build a risk-based mapping system. This didn’t work out. We ended up doing our own development with ArcObjects. This resulted in a standard way of analyzing risk for prospects—a simple risk system. OITJ—What about the 3D debate?

Fried—ESRI has built a great 2D integration platform that works. Now they are getting serious about 3D.

OITJ—Will we see 3D seismics in ESRI?

Fried—Not for a while. But this is where the debate is going. Today ESRI offers 2D—bits of the puzzle are missing. Hence the importance of the PUG 3D Working Group which provides user input and influences ESRI’s future directions.

* High consequence analysis (locating populated areas near pipelines).

* Coordinate reference system.

Folks, facts, orgs etc…

New structures for Halliburton and Baker Hughes, rumors, IPOs and personnel changes—things are hotting up!

Halliburton has named Evelyn Angelle as VP Investor Relations and Paul Koeller as VP of Global Sales and Delivery for its Digital and Consulting Solutions (DCS) division. The DCS division was previously Landmark and ‘other’ Energy Services.

Aspen Technology’s Audit Committee has completed its review and the Company has restated its financials for fiscal years ending in 2000 through 2004. The Company believes that it has now complied with the deadline set by the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel.

Simon Voisey has joined Veritas unit Hampson-Russell UK as support geophysicist.

Divestco Inc. has appointed Roderick Chisholm as CFO. Chisholm was previously with bankers HSBC.

Baker Hughes has appointed David Barr as Group President of its re-organized Drilling and Evaluation unit which includes the Baker Atlas, Baker Hughes Drilling Fluids, Hughes Christensen and INTEQ divisions. Martin Craighead has been appointed President of Baker Atlas following Barr’s promotion.

Francois Lafferriere is to head-up Earth Decision Sciences’ new Caracas office. Lafferrière was previously in charge of EDS’ Brazilian unit.
Idelix Software Inc. has appointed Chris Haakon to its advisory board. Hakon is a member of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and former CEO of Boeing Autometric.

Steve Batchelor is to head-up OpenSpirit Corp.’s new EU headquarters in London.

Paradigm has upgraded its seismic data processing centers in the CIS with a, 90-processor Xeon-based cluster and a 32-CPU Itanium 2-based SGI Altix system.

Geotrace has promoted Jun Cai to Manager of Depth Imaging Technology.

Advanced Visual Systems (AVS), has released Express 7.0 which increases rendering and application performance on 64-bit platforms and adds new functionality for Mac OS-X users.

The American Records Management Association (ARMA) has just published a guide to understanding, implementing, and using metadata within the framework of ISO 15489, Information and Documentation—Records Management.

Precision Drilling and Paradigm Geo have joined different consortia at the BP Center for Visualization.

US-based IT consultancy Perficient has just filed an IPO with the SEC. Proceeds will ‘substantially’ fund future

Don Roesle has been named CEO of Ryder-Scott.

The rumor mill has it that Landmark’s GeoProbe will soon benefit from Open Spirit connectivity. Landmark is also understood to be stopping development of its GoCad-based PowerModel application. Competition issues with Earth Decision Sciences are understood to be behind the decision.


In our report from the WITSML user group meeting last month we wrongly called Rune Skarbo’s company ‘Sense Technology’. It is in fact Sense Intellifield. Our apologies to all concerned.

Seismic boutiques get government cash

US NIST and UK ITF funded seismic research support energy independence, revamp brownfields.

Two small seismic companies, on opposite sides of ‘the pond,’ have benefited from different degrees of government largesse with the award of research grants for new seismic methods. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Advanced Technology Program (ATP), has awarded $2 million to California-based 3DGeo Development to ‘estimate the acoustic velocity in subsurface rocks’ and to provide ‘more accurate images in seismic surveying.’


3DGeo president Dimitri Bevc said, ‘Nobody has yet used wave-equation calculations to determine acoustic wave velocity models. With the new funding from NIST ATP, 3DGeo will implement a new automated data analysis technique to reduce human expert time required in initial propagation velocity calculations, and we will develop an improved technique to model migration velocity using the actual wave equation.’


The UK Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF) in its 2004 report revealed that it had supported some 28 technologies to the prototype or commercial product stage. Principal themes for 2004 were maximizing brownfield production and geomechanics.


The ITF’s key technology theme for 2005 will be ‘sustaining and developing production’. This embraces operational effectiveness, maximizing production and accessing stranded reserves. New projects are being established to address earth modeling, scale removal, data management and well intervention.


One new project, being undertaken by Fortkey Ltd., involves the development and use of ‘novel signals’ for improved seismic resolution. The researchers are developing a technique based on the use of multiple chirp signals. According to the ITF’s blurb, ‘these types of signals occur frequently in nature and have greater resolution capability than their bandwidth suggests*’. This potential for resolution improvement is also being ‘pursued in the medical and defence sectors’.


Another project, dubbed ‘Sinbad’ and undertaken by the University of British Columbia, aims to apply ‘non-linear estimation techniques’ to seismic imaging, inversion and processing. Replacing conventional linear inversion ‘will enable substantial improvements in image quality and resolution.’ Apparently, comparable techniques have been used to achieve improvements in image processing and medical imaging.

* Chirps also ‘occur’ where a vibrator’s baseplate meets the road!

POSC releases WITSML version 1.3

The drilling information standard includes well log and risk objects, and improved units of measure.

As revealed in Oil IT Journal last month, the Well Information Transfer Standard, WITSML, now a POSC community, has released Version 1.3 of its XML-based data exchange standard. Enhancements and ‘clarifications’ to the standard include datums for elevations, measured depths and vertical depths can now be defined. A ‘well-known name’ can be specified for the horizontal coordinate reference system or to specify more than one system of each type (geographic, projected and local). A composite schema file has been created that combines the content from all object schemas into one schema. All information about one well or many wells can be placed in a single XML document.

Data schema

The schema files have been split into a data schema (e.g., well, wellbore, trajectory) and a SOAP API schema (i.e., capClient, capPublisher, capServer, capSubscriber and subscription).

Well log object

New objects defined include a well log object for wireline and MWD data and a new ‘risk object’ which can be associated with any other object. Other tweaks address enhancements to WITSML units of measure, and data integrity, with preferred and mandatory units and maximum allowable values. A consistent naming convention has been implemented for unique and contextual keys.

Quick start

The POSC WITSML Store Client Toolkit includes a ‘quickstart’ tutorial and a WITSML Store client sample implementation on

Energy Solutions’ Pipeline Studio 2.7

The third release in the past year promises speedier pipeline design and simulation.

Houston-based pipeline software house Energy Solutions has announced the release of the latest version of its flagship PipelineStudio tool for pipeline design and operation. Version 2.7 speeds pipeline design, improves data analysis and decreases simulation time.


Energy Solutions CEO Al Jacob said, ‘This is the third release of PipelineStudio in a 12-month period—demonstrating our commitment to continuous improvement of our products. We recognize the changing business requirements our pipeline customers face and we’re working hard to be responsive.’


New features and enhancements include configuration libraries, improved plotting and trend analysis, product support in Spanish and Chinese and increased speed of the PipelineSimulator engine

What if?

Typical uses for PipelineStudio include design of pipelines, sizing of equipment, hydraulic response and pipeline operation analysis. Users can also perform ‘what if?’ scenarios for operational and financial investment purposes. PipelineStudio supports both steady-state and transient hydraulic analysis.

CMG and Shell sign simulator MoU

Computer Modelling Group is to help develop Shell’s next generation fluid flow reservoir simulator.

Calgary-based Computer Modelling Group (CMG) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Shell International E&P BV for the joint development of reservoir simulation software. The MoU offers CMG the exclusive rights to commercialize software developed under the agreement – giving Shell ‘unlimited’ access to software developed for its internal use.


CMG CEO Ken Dedeluk said, ‘Combining our resources will leverage CMG’s R&D efforts, as Shell will contribute financial assistance and intellectual property, operational experience and in-house technical research. Our mutual goal is to align our simulator technologies and to jointly undertake the development of a new class of large-scale full-physics advanced reservoir simulators by combining the latest computing technology with our expertise in reservoir simulation.’

SCA LogBust validation

New software offers QC of seismic interpretation and well picks.

Houston-based Subsurface Consultants and Associates (SCA) has just announced ‘LogBust’ which ‘identifies, quantifies and validates seismic and well log correlations, faults and unconformities and growth patterns.’ The software embeds two fault growth analytical methods developed by SCA’s Richard Bischke.


SCA CEO Dan Tearpock said, ‘We believe this tool will have significant positive results for geoscientists and engineers alike in their quest to find and develop hydrocarbons’.

Forest Oil selects Wellogix’ e-business tool

Paper set to disappear as e-invoicing solution trialed. Wellogix announces marketing deal with SAP.

Forest Oil is to deploy Wellogix’ Complex Services Management (CSM) e-business solution in a pilot project to improve its purchase to pay process.


Forest’s Scot Woodall said, ‘Paper invoices place a tremendous burden on our administration and field personnel. An electronic invoice solution could allow us to take advantage of possible savings from early payment and will let operators spend more time on value adding activities. We selected CSM following a comprehensive review of the market for oil and gas e-invoicing systems.’ Forest will use CSM core modules for invoice processing and to speed payment. The solution will also help with Forest’s Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.


Wellogix also announced a joint marketing agreement with SAP. The companies will launch a ‘global effort’ to market a joint industry solution to automate the procurement process. The agreement will bundle mySAP SRM and other SAP procurement tools with Wellogix CSM suite. SAP’s NetWeaver will provide the integration platform and a ‘Powered by NetWeaver’ logo. Marathon Oil adopted Wellogix’ NetWeaver-based solution last year (OITJ Vol. 9 N° 9).

POSC CAESAR mapped to ISO 15926

Norwegian body’s ISO edition of plant reference data library competes with Dutch standard.

The Norway-based POSC/Caesar organization has announced the availability of an ISO-based version of its reference data library (RDL) for the plant and offshore construction industry. The standard targets data management for engineering, construction and production operations where information is created, used and modified by many different organizations during the lifetime of a plant.

ISO 15926

The ISO 15926 standard was designed to support cross-discipline data integration by modeling functional requirements, equipment and activities. Terminology and taxonomy is work in progress. The POSC/Caesar organization has established an initial taxonomy that will be expanded as more work is done. This will later be submitted to ISO.


POSC/Caesar is not the only EU organization working in the ISO 15926 space. The Dutch USPI-NL standards body is also claiming ISO compliance for its own plant data standards, creating a degree of overlap and confusion in the industry. See our report from the USPI-NL 2004 AGM (OITJ Vol. 9 N° 7) .

Autonomy to power Mexican oil portal

Oil R&D Institute’s portal leverages unstructured data access. Autonomy to offer ‘fuzzy’ queries.

The Instituto Mexicano del Petroleo (IMP) Mexico’s national oil and gas research organization, has selected Autonomy’s Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) to power its enterprise information portal. The IMP portal supports the IMP’s staff of 4,300 – providing access to information in the Institute’s library.


Ernesto Azuela of the IMP said, ‘Autonomy differentiated itself from other vendors by working with us to promote a paradigm shift in IMP. Instead of our engineers performing time wasting, inaccurate searches, Autonomy pushes the information to them, just when required.’


Autonomy also announced the acquisition of NCorp, a specialist in structured data management. NCorp’s Ijen pattern matching technology puts the database into a multidimensional space in order to enable ‘fuzzy queries.’ Autonomy clients include Shell and the US Dept. of Energy.

Pavilion, Emission Care team on CO2

Environmental consultancies team to offer Dow Chemical unit emission trading and compliance tool.

Dutch based environmental consultancy Emission Care and Pavilion Technologies of Austin, TX have teamed to provide Dow Chemical’s Elsta power plant in the Netherlands with an environmental compliance solution. Pavilion’s Envisage software is to monitor the behavior of gas turbines and steam boilers to enable Elsta to fulfill its monitoring obligations under the new EU CO2 and Dutch NOX emissions trading rules.

Emissions trading

The CO2 and NOX Emission Trading Schemes are being introduced across Europe to combat the threat of climate changes attributed to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Elsta began emissions trading just six weeks after the Envisage deployment began. The project leveraged Pavilion’s partnership with Emission Care as distributor of environmental solutions.


Elsta manager Joop Caljé said, ‘Emission Care used its knowledge of emission trading, environmental regulations and process engineering to tailor Envisage to our needs. We have seen a dramatic reduction of man hours necessary for report generation and are able to achieve full compliance with emission-trading regulations.’

InfoWeb maps WITSML to ISO standard

Mapping to Epistle extends WITSML reach into facilities—adding time stamp for data validity.

Dutch-based standards promoter InfoWeb (OITJ Vol. 9 N° 9) has just completed the mapping of the WITSML drilling data standard to the Epistle Reference Data Library (ISO 15926). Infoweb supports the creation and use of web-based Reference Data Libraries, such as supplier catalogs, standard parts catalogs. The WITSML to ISO mapping provides a bridge between upstream drilling data standards, and those of the plant/facilities community.

Lifetime Information

Infoweb’s approach focuses on full lifetime management of data – particularly during the handover of operations. The ISO standard allows for data time stamping. Data is never overwritten, rather its validity is expressed as a function of the information lifecycle. This allows the information about the state of the facility to be recreated for any given point in time. Currently, the project has mapped parts of the WITSML specification to ISO 15926-4.The next step is to map WITSML as an ontology into the higher-level ISO 15926-7 format.

Deer Creek deploys Quorum Volume tool

Oil sands operator to manage and monitor production volume and midstream operations.

Calgary-based oil sands operator Deer Creek Energy has licensed Quorum’s Volume Management (QVM) software to manage its field data capture and production allocation. QVM will also perform data validation and computation for Deer Creek’s upstream and midstream operations.


Deer Creek VP Mark Montemurro said, ‘Deer Creek conducted a thorough evaluation of commercially available software and selected QVM as the most complete application that addressed the multiple facets of our measurement and data management operations.’


Deer Creek has interests in steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) and mining assets and operates the Joslyn project north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Quorum Business Solutions was founded in 1998 and now has 160 staff operating out of offices in Houston, Dallas, and Calgary.

New secure e-business for ConocoPhillips

Canadian unit to deploy new electroBusiness tool to encourage vendors to join e-business hub.

ConocoPhillips has rolled-out new software from Calgary-based electro-Business to encourage vendor take-up of its electronic document exchange initiative. The new software, eBsecuredesk is to be offered to ConocoPhillips’ vendors to promote the merits of e-business.


This desktop application provides information management and document handling tools allowing users to capture data and review documents within their own applications. Documents, and data in any format, can be securely exchanged with the community of authorized users. Confidential information exchanged internally and externally can be monitored, improving internal controls and helping to comply with regulations.


Last year (Oil ITJ Vol. 9 N° 6), Petro-Canada and ConocoPhillips launched a secure document exchange in their finished products line of business using the electroBusiness hub.

Revenues up

electroBusiness’ revenues rose by 91% for the three month period ending October 31, 2004. The Company generated revenues of $114,546 for the quarter from increased contract and recurring revenue. Operating expenses increased by 11% resulting in a net loss of $12,580.

Halliburton does deal with India ONGC

Five year memorandum of understanding covers technologies, best practices and joint study center.

Indias’s Oil & Gas Natural Corporation (ONGC) has signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Halliburton covering ‘services and support opportunities’ in India.


ONGC chairman Subir Raha said, ‘This Memorandum of Understanding provides ONGC with easy access to Halliburton’s technologies, experience, management practices and processes for application in our fields and centers. At the same time, the MoU will open up additional commercial opportunities for Halliburton technologies and services.’


Hemant Shah, Halliburton’s business development manager for India, added, ‘We are pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this alliance and to provide technological solutions for deepwater operations and development of mature assets for ONGC.’


A joint study center will be initiated for ‘innovation and proprietary solutions’ in the field of logging services, production optimization and integrated project management.

Geographix acquires A2D SmartSection

A2D Technolgies extends data access, removing concerns over competing interpretation products.

Halliburton has acquired TGS-Nopec unit A2D Technologies’ SmartSection software. SmartSection pioneered the use of depth-calibrated well log images for high volume well log correlation. The acquisition was made by Halliburton’s Digital and Consulting Solutions (DCS) unit. DCS VP Jon Lewis said, ‘SmartSection will expand GeoGraphix’ correlation and subsurface interpretation capabilities. Customers analyzing large data volumes will be able to quickly identify unconformities and other structural relationships.’


A2D president Dave Kotowych added, ‘By transferring our SmartSection software business to Halliburton, A2D extends access to its data without the concern that we are developing competing interpretive products. The software will also benefit from Halliburton’s development environment and market reach.’ Smart Section is used by some 50 major and large independent oil and gas companies worldwide. Last year, Landmark linked its software with A2D’s SilverWire log delivery system. (OITJ Vol 9 N°3).

Apache to extend Petrel functionality

Apache is to offer Schlumberger workflow experience feedback from its ‘primary’ interpretation tool.

Apache Corp. has selected Schlumberger Information Systems’(SIS) Petrel as its primary interpretation tool. Petrel will enable Apache asset teams to integrate technical disciplines from seismic to simulation in an ‘intuitive and collaborative’ environment. Petrel will interface with Apache’s OpenWorks data stores via OpenSpirit. Apache is to replace its legacy interpretation packages with Petrel tools.


Apache CEO Steve Farris said, ‘In both new assets and older fields, leveraging technology is a key element in our profitability. New insights and efficiencies from technologies within the Petrel suite of workflow tools provide significant potential benefits to companies like ours.’ The companies have also signed a technology alliance agreement whereby SIS will provide Apache with early access to new technology, while Apache provides feedback on E&P workflows.


Schlumberger CEO Andrew Gould said, ‘Apache’s involvement in workflow development will ensure that these products target customer needs.’

GXS brings OFS Portal 24x7 operations

Deal adds industrial strength B2B e-commerce to OFS Portal’s PIDX-based fulfillment support.

Houston-based OFS Portal has signed with GXS B2B Outsourcing Solutions for the provision of oil and gas transaction services. OFS Portal represents a group of service companies offering a range of e-business services to oil company clients, leveraging the API PIDX/ComProServ e-business specifications.

Le Sage

OFS Portal CEO Bill Le Sage told Oil IT Journal, ‘Oil and gas B2B in the field of procurement has failed to catch fire because of the complexity of the services involved and the collaborative nature of the procurement process. However, e-business is proving very successful in the fulfillment process where it has cut day sales outstanding in half and given oils great spend visibility.’


This has led to the development of the OFS Portal PIDX-based Transaction Messaging Service (TMS) which will now leverage GXS’ Trading Grid technology. This will add native support of ANSI/EDIFACT EDI, Internet EDI, AS2, EAN-UCC XML, RosettaNet PIPs and RNIF transactions to the existing TMS infrastructure.


OFS Portal sell-side members include Baker Hughes, Halliburton and Schlumberger. Its buyer community includes ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Statoil and Total.

Saudi Aramco adopts new mySAP ERP

SAP is claiming ‘undisputed leadership’ for its web services-based, mySAP ERP package.

SAP has rolled out its mySAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) package to 200 clients world-wide, including Saudi Aramco. mySAP ERP leverages SAP’s web services-based NetWeaver platform (OITJ Vol. 9 N° 1). According to SAP, ERP now ‘extends processes beyond the enterprise to the entire ecosystem of customers, suppliers and partners.’

1,000 contracts

SAP claims ‘undisputed’ worldwide market leadership in ERP software. Since Q3 2004, SAP has signed over 1,000 mySAP ERP contracts, 70% with companies whose revenues are less than $1 billion. mySAP ERP offers ‘next generation ERP’ including electronic billing and payment, recruiting and training, radio frequency identification (RFID), inventory management and more. SAP also unveiled plans for a global roadshow exposing the benefits of service-oriented ERP solutions and SAP NetWeaver.

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