November 2006

Refining moves upstream

The heavy oil session at the SPE ATCE foresaw a co-located oilfield and refinery for Alberta’s tar sands, merging the digital oilfield with the refinery of the future. It’s all about fixing the H2 deficiency.

A report from Cambridge Energy Associates this month suggests that ‘unconventional’ oil is to triple the world’s oil resource base, providing an extra quarter century of production. The plenary session of the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ convention in San Antonio offered a timely investigation as to what might be involved in turning heavy oil (HO) into usable synthetic crude oil (SCO). According to session moderator Vic Rao (Halliburton CTO), HO presents challenges to the status quo, particularly its high carbon to hydrogen ratio, aka the ‘hydrogen deficiency.’ One approach is to upgrade in the field, avoiding the ‘transportation challenge.’ CO2 emissions are an issue but sequestration is ‘a semi-valid method of disposal.’


Robert Skinner (Oxford Institute for Energy Studies) stated that there was considerable technology-driven upside potential in heavy oil. Improvements in technology go ‘straight on the bottom line.’ On the downside, supply costs are increasing. Industry needs $30-35/bbl for a 10% return. Project overruns are frequent and costs are rising. But most development will continue at $50 WTI.


According to Murray Smith (Alberta Government), by 2020 Canada will be the largest non OPEC producer. Alberta is N° 2 behind Saudi Arabia in reserves. There is ‘still optimism’ that production can go to 3mm bbl/day and a ‘blue print’ for 5 mm bbl/day. Production is now ‘energy positive’ but you need to move a lot of ‘stuff’—this is ‘a mining process.’ Alberta is ‘looking to reduce’ natural gas usage with in situ coking and produced water is a ‘charged’ political issue. But when companies reclaim land, the buffalo come back!


Don Paul (Chevron CTO) described the process as an oilfield ‘downstream,’ or a refinery ‘within the natural resource environment.’ This ties in with Chevron’s concept of the oilfield as a factory. A considerable effort is needed to integrate all the disciplines. But just as the SPE embraces drilling plus production plus chemical—no one organization or discipline ‘has the ball.’


One questioner took the panel off-guard, asking if there was a role for nuclear energy in HO production. Rao ventured that a small, purpose-designed nuclear plant alongside a heavy oil plant, was a possibility. Smith said that this would guarantee front page news, ‘If someone wants to try this in Alberta, file for a permit—here will be a robust public debate!’ Skinner was skeptical—‘You might need a nuke on skids to move around to where the steam is needed.’ Skinner also opined that North America is becoming increasingly technologically illiterate. Debate on these subjects is hard and the outcome may not be decided on the basis of their technical merits.

POSC rebrand

The Petrotechnical Open Standards Consortium is now ‘Energistics.’ CEO Randy Clark and chairman Jon Lewis explain why.

Around 180 turned out for the rebranding of the Petrotechnical Open Standards Consortium (POSC) as ‘Energistics’ reflecting ‘a new goal of executing a market-focused business strategy.’ Energistics will develop common information and data standards and is to facilitate a global community of open standards users. POSC has also ‘rebranded’ its HQ as the Energy Standards Resource Centre (ESRC).


President and CEO Randy Clark, explained, ‘The ESRC will provide real bottom-line value to the upstream. As the facilitator for development, adoption and deployment of data and information-transfer standards, we will work to improve information exchange and increase business-process efficiencies. We will ensure that standards are market-driven and produce clear business value.’


Jon Lewis, (Halliburton and Energistics chairman) added, ‘Standardization can add millions of dollars of value in the area of production optimization alone. With Energistics’ inclusive membership, we have a unique opportunity to capture this value.’ See also our interview with Clark on page 3 of this issue.

Standards development, cathedrals, bazaars etc.

Oil IT Journal editor Neil McNaughton considers the SEC’s significant investment in XBRL as auguring well for the standards movement in general—and for the newly rebranded POSC/Energistics. He reflects on the merits of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ standards development to suggest that a move to a more open process would allow more stakeholder involvement in upstream standards development.

We’ve been reporting on the extensible business reporting language (XBRL) for a while now. The last time we checked, Petrobras was the only oil and gas company to have publicly backed the standard. This is likely to change as the SEC is now financing the completion of the XBRL taxonomy and is to upgrade its EDGAR system to leverage the new technology. The move ‘presages widespread adoption of interactive data filing by companies that report their financial information to the SEC,’ which I read as code for the SEC making XBRL mandatory in the mid term.


I mention this because standards adoption has been the subject of much hand-wringing in the oil industry. To the extent that, just when the emergence of a new standard might actually force companies into adoption, the old chestnuts of anti-trust, or anti-competition fears are trotted out—conveniently avoiding the need to actually implement anything. The received view is that ‘standards’ are OK for places like Norway, but that in the ‘free enterprise’ world of the US they will never really fly. Well XBRL, with SEC backing has legs if not yet wings and oil CIO/CFOs might like to take a peek at just in case.


I can’t resist commenting on the POSC/Energistics rebranding exercise based upon my own recent experience of the ProdML ‘public comment’ period that closed this month. Visitors to the website may have spotted the occasional comment—these appeared briefly in public. But as soon as they were made, the ProdML group saw fit to remove them from public view. One has to wonder what twisted logic is behind such behavior. Are public comments on ProdML so sensitive that they need to be removed from public view asap—perhaps before Google records them for eternity?


My own query was why ProdML (and for that matter WitsML) didn’t make more of the merits of data validation—a subject which you, readers of this column, will be familiar with. An interesting and informative exchange with some ProdML luminaries ensued which I think would have benefited a wider audience. I think that in the context of development that leverages emerging W3C specifications, such dialog should be part of an education process. Which got me thinking about the contrast between the POSC/ProdML approach and the open source movement.

Cathedral and the Bazaar

On the topic of politics, standards and open source development, the seminal work is undoubtedly Eric Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar*. This argues that the web has radically changed the way software can be built—effectively shifting control from closed groups of expert ‘cathedral builders’ to public, lose associations of punters, ‘the Bazaar.’


The existence of Linux, Apache and a plethora of lesser projects demonstrates that, although these projects in fact mobilize as many expert experts as you could wish for, the ‘open’ methodology is a formidable approach to producing quality software. Perhaps the most paradoxical success of the open movement is the development of crypto code which has to an extent migrated from behind the experts’ closed doors to the public domain.


Are the ProdML team the cathedral builders and the rest of us the hordes at the gate? Probably not. In fact the ProdML team, rather late in the day, went outside of their project to involve some real cathedral builders, in the form of some of IBM’s web services gurus. They checked out the code and found a few issues—with data typing and schema complexity (see page 11). It’s not clear whether these are big issues—but what is sure is that any issues at all should be fixed as early as possible—before too much ProdML (or WitsML) code gets into regular use. Would a more open development process have avoided this kind of glitch? I think it probably would.

Heavy weather

PRODML members like many others have made heavy weather mapping old business practices onto the web. The difficulty is moving from a closed oil company type joint venture to a truly open collaboration. The POSCian workshops have been part of the problem here. As a part of the rather arcane funding buck-passing over the years, much of the serious activity of POSC has only been visible to members who divvy-up for special membership of the group. In a similar way, ProdML’s groundwork has been developed by a restricted group of sponsors free from public interference and scrutiny.


The problem with the ‘move fast with a small footprint’ approach is that it is very hard to ring-fence your data in such a way that it is will not impact other stakeholders. The SEG’s seismic standards, by and large lean towards the data acquisition community just as ProdML’s first audience is in the production arena. But in the end, data is consumed by applications; data has to be managed by data managers and data links across to other ‘foreign’ data. This argues in favor of a process that allows all stakeholders to get a peek at what’s going on as soon as possible.


I use the word ‘peek’ advisedly. Apart from the demonstrable merits of a more open development process there are not inconsiderable spin-offs. Lurkers are educated. Carbon is reduced as you no longer have to fly around the world to keep up to speed, and if the standard is going to be public, the sooner it is out there the better.


Interview—Randy Clark, CEO Energistics

CEO Randy Clark explains the rationale of the POSC/Energistics rebrand to Oil IT Journal.

What is Energistics trying to achieve?

Clark—To ensure that our standards are market driven, with a solid business case and that they deliver value to industry. Energistics will be primarily a service company managing the process and serving the needs of the community. We are working to transfer ownership of standards to members. Key activities include ‘harvesting’ standards success stories and working with the community training, advocating and driving deployment.

The last has proved a tough call so far!

Clark—Indeed! We have a big promotional and marketing job to do to make people aware of the benefits of standards. We will be doing this with a different message for different levels of the organization. For ‘C’ level executives this is about value management and we will have different message for upper management and technologists—educating the market with demonstrable successes.

How are you going to address the commercial issues of standards use? Vendors may support standards initiatives but fail to deploy the technology in their operations.

Clark—The reality is that this is in the hands of the oil companies who, in tenders and master service agreements, will have to insist on, or recommend compliance with certain standards. Although we do have to recognize the vendors’ need for innovation.

What’s Energistics’ relationship with the new SPE IT Section?

Clark—I spoke with Mehrzad Mahdavi at the IT section launch. He very positive regarding Energistic’s participation. I will be involved personally and we are engaged in ongoing talks with SPE.

And with PPDM?

Clark—Alan Doniger (Energistics CTO) has an ongoing dialog with PPDM particularly with regards to XML. Actually we did request a breather from this activity for while we refocused. We are in a better position to talk now.

Schlumberger is not on the panel. Are they reticent?

Clark—No not at all. We invited a broad cross section of representatives from different parts of industry. We also have a new standards advisory panel with Schlumberger’s Najib Abusalbi as a member.

The first stage of PRODML was a closed development? What do you think of a more open-source inspired methodology?

Clark—I am certainly in favor of open standards development. Actually Energistics has two roles as both a custodian and as a member of ProdML. There are always concerns with people coming new to a process with a tight time line. But I‘m not sure what the rationale was for a closed process. I would certainly be in favor of an open process with observer type status so that people are aware of developments as they happen.

What is happening with WitsML?

Clark—The SIG continues to meet and holds public meetings. We are very anxious to create a two year period of stability for the standards to let other users catch up.

What should be folks main take-home from the Energistics launch?

Clark—That we are very excited at the renewed interest from around the world. This is going to let us capitalize and move on from the Power Points to deliver the business value.

In our last talk, you were evaluating your relationship with the W3C.

Clark—Well I still believe that W3C is important to what we are doing. Especially in web services where it is most critical to our architecture. I am supportive of a close relationship with the W3C.

What’s Energistics’ budget

Clark—There have been significant changes in the organization. We are only five people now including our office manager. That’s about as lean as we can be and we will be depending a lot on member resources and help from other interested parties. We have reduced operating costs significantly and are looking to have our standards self funding. We are to present an operational budget by year end.

The upstream standards movement has been struggling for funds. What do you make of the very substantial funding the open source has received in the past?

Clark—There is a lot of talk these days about open source. But we are at the pleasure of our members in this respect. Personally I can see the standards community moving to an open source model. I’m not predicting anything for Energistics but it may come.

Network General’s drillers’ data logger

Equipment manufacturer to embed network traffic sniffer in ‘Cyberbase’ drilling control chairs.

National Oilwell Varco (NOV) has integrated high speed data logging technology from Network General into its ‘Cyberbase’ drilling command centre. Cyberbase gives drillers complete control of the rig from a single chair. Network General’s ‘Sniffer InfiniStream’ data logger is used to track back and solve operational ‘anomalies.’


Frode Roed, senior engineer at NOV said, ‘Safety is always our number one concern. The machinery controlled by Cyberbase is safety critical and for this reason it is essential that we monitor all operations to identify any potential problems early. InfiniStream makes this possible and is key to avoiding unnecessary and costly halting or postponing of rig operations. Unwanted drilling events are efficiently investigated and flexible reports generated in no time as part of the system.’


Cyberbase chairs include a set of joysticks and keypads whose functionality is dynamically tracked on-screen as tasks change. Key information is then relayed back to remote operation centers on the mainland. Following successful integration tests earlier this year, InfiniStream will be embedded in future Cyberbase chairs and retrofitted to others already in operation.


Sniffer InfiniStream is a component of Network General’s NetworkDNA platform for captures and manages network traffic. NetworkDNA’s agents collect data from a variety of sources into a federated performance management database (PMDB). An API and web services integration enabler deliver a ‘single source of network truth’ in the form of real-time system and network performance metrics, and ‘back-in-time’ analysis.

Crystal Ball oil and gas user group

Speakers from Chevron, Marathon and PetroSkills vaunt merits of Excel Monte Carlo plug-in.

The Crystal Ball Oil & Gas Forum drew more than 50 attendees from different segments of the Oil & Gas industry. David Meinert, petroleum engineer with Chevron, described a stochastic model of drilling schedules to evaluate the effects of slippage on the development of a deepwater asset. Having a sub-optimum number of wells at first oil will adversely impact production targets. Also, deterministic approaches to evaluating multi-year drilling schedules can produce an overly long time estimate. Chevron has therefore built a simple model in Crystal Ball that stochastically estimates the drilling schedule and predicts the number of producers available at first oil. Unforeseen events and non productive time are estimated to provide an ‘easily maintained drill queue model that stochastically reflects the uncertainties associated with drilling highly complex wells in a deepwater environment.’


Chris Hill described how Marathon is applying portfolio optimization to evaluate its acquisitions. Acquisition opportunities present a problem set which is reduced to manageable proportions by categorizing and ranking the unknowns. Modeling allows Marathon to distinguish between individual asset and overall portfolio performance and CrystalBall’s OptQuest is used to optimize the portfolio under selected scenarios.

Portfolio Optimization

Steve Hoye (Decisioneering) showed how Monte Carlo simulations of different granularity can be combined to provide a decision support environment for a multi project development portfolio. The process identifies those combinations of projects that minimize portfolio risk for a given return. Such projects are said to lie on the ‘efficient frontier.’ Efficient frontier projects can be further investigated in terms of systematic and unsystematic risks. CrystalBall’s ‘real options’ are used to describe strategic flexibility, the possibility of abandoning or expanding projects as more knowledge of their outcomes is available.


Speaking at the plenary Crystal Ball user group, John Schuyler (PetroSkills-OGCI and Decision Precision) used an enterprise model including the OptQuest tool to ‘optimize management’s levers’ as determined using the balanced scorecard (BSC) method. In general, the BSC method is a multi-criteria approach whereas Schuyler advocates a more focused metric of shareholder value. He proposes an executive information system built around a stochastic enterprise model that has shareholder value generation as the focus metric and BSC ‘centerpiece.’ According to the abstract, ‘This derives from forecasting free cash flow, converting to a distribution of net present value and calculating the expected monetary value. [...] The enterprise model is the core means for evaluating and optimizing alternate corporate strategies and for measuring performance.’ Read Schuyler’s paper on

Meta projects for portfolio analysis

Enersight’s portfolio management package extended with new ‘business planning workflow.’

Enersight’s WellSpring portfolio management package now includes an integrated business planning workflow. Starting with detailed, project-level, production and economic modeling the business plan develops as it ‘flows up’ through a visual consolidation network into a final corporate view. Enersight claims this workflow reduces the time needed to consolidate alternative developments into a corporate plan resulting in improved forecasting and more extensive analysis of development options. The plan captures both risked and un-risked plans for high-level sensitivity analysis.

Meta project

Key to WellSpring’s scalable planning capability is the ‘meta project,’ a summary-level project or scenario that allows project results to be combined with results from other projects, wells or facilities. Meta projects let users consolidate and view all corporate assets and compare strategic plans and contingencies. Other meta project functionality includes sensitivity analysis to price and other risk factors. Tax calculations for many international regimes are available. Meta projects also provide a snap-shot of a project’s value at a given point in time and can be archived as project ‘look-backs.’

Gaz de France funds fault analysis toolkit

Foster Findlay Associates to apply image processing to fault seal analysis.

Gaz de France (GDF) and Foster Findlay Associates (FFA) are to collaborate on a 3D fault analysis toolset. Jean-François Dutzer, Geophysics R&D Manager at GDF commented, ‘The techniques being developed in collaboration with FFA will enable us to have a 3D understanding of how faults act as flow barriers. This can have a major impact on exploration risking, development strategies and economics.’

Image analysis

FFA’s seismic image analysis and software engineers will work with Gaz de France affiliates from Britain, France, Norway Germany and the Netherlands. The tools will available through FFA’s services from July 2007 and integrated into the January 2008 version of FFA’s flagship SVI Pro.


FFA MD Jonathan Henderson added, ‘As E&P moves to more complex reservoirs there is a need for subsurface technology that can provide more detailed reservoir understanding. Partnering with GDF to broaden our fault workflow ensures that we are addressing our client’s challenges.’

Software, hardware short takes

News from Mercury, Ark, Tibco, Imation, Energy Solutions, Exprodat and Tigress.

Mercury Computer Systems has ported its visualization framework to the new IBM Cell BE processor. The Mercury CAB (Cell Accelerator Board) and Dual Cell-Based Blade, as well as Mercury’s intuitive programming environment, the MultiCore Plus SDK (Software Development Kit) were demonstrated at Supercomputing 2006 this month. Clients use the Cell BE processor to solve application challenges in seismic processing and other verticals.


Ark is to outsource development maintenance of its ArkField seismic and potential field integration tool to ARK CLS. A Linux release of ArkField has been announced and an OpenSpirit data server is a probable future development. The Motif-based GUI is being phased-out in favor of Trolltech’s Qt framework.


TIBCO Software will release its General Interface (TGI), an AJAX-based rich internet application toolkit with an open source licensing option. TGI now also supports Firefox 1.5. Developers will be able to ‘freely use and extend TIBCO General Interface to combine and leverage the capabilities of a service-oriented architecture with rich internet applications technology’—aka Web 2.0.


Imation Corp.’s ‘Disk as Tape’ solution has passed acceptance testing by CGG’s seismic equipment unit Sercel. Imation’s Ulysses is a disk in a tape cartridge form factor that can be used in existing tape libraries. Restore speeds of up to 10 times faster than tape are claimed for the LTO Ultrium cartridge emulators.


Energy Solutions has released GasLoadForecaster 3.0 (GLF), a Microsoft .NET neural network-based gas market modeler. GLF ‘learns’ from historical data to predict future market behavior and optimize ROI. The new release brings improvements in forecasting speed and accuracy support for multiple meteorological data vendors and weather accuracy determination. GLF interfaces Energy Solutions’ other hydraulic gas pipeline models.


Exprodat has released a new version of NitroView, its ArcIMS-based data browser. Enhancements include the ability to add dynamic vector data, connections to layer metadata ‘in-situ’ and advanced charting support.


The latest quarterly update to the Tigress 5.0 interpretation platform adds enhancements to TIES data loader, streamlining data exchange Petrel. The Petrel link handles multiple data types, including well header, deviation, log and in one transfer. Other new features aid in data management and transfer quality control. The simulator can now model up to 1000 wells and 2000 completions.

SEC upgrades EDGAR with XBRL

Securities and Exchange Commission move heralds likely mandating of reporting standard.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has awarded three contracts totaling $54 million to transform the agency’s 1980s-vintage ‘EDGAR’ company disclosure system from a form-based electronic filing cabinet to a ‘dynamic real-time search tool with interactive capabilities.’

Widespread adoption

According to the SEC, the move ‘presages widespread adoption of interactive data filing by companies that report their financial information to the SEC.’ Such reporting, leveraging the XBRL data standard (OITJ Vol. N° ) has only been a voluntary pilot program. XBRL reporting is already mandatory for banks in their dealings with the US Comptroller of the Currency.


The SEC has not so far mandated reporting because the XBRL tag set is incomplete. The new contracts will address these issues and also upgrade EDGAR to fully leverage XBRL. Contract beneficiaries include Keane Federal Systems, XBRL US, Rivet Software and Wall Street on Demand. now sports SKOS ontology

Rich geographical place name resource gets semantic web makeover.

An interesting mapping resource is available at which comprises a geographical database with over eight million geographical names and features. Features are categorized into nine classes and over 645 geographical feature codes. The data is accessible free of charge through a number of web services and a daily database export.


The dataset has been built up from a number of public data sources including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the US Board on Geographic Names and the US Geological Survey’s geographic names information System. A Wiki allows registered users to improve and correct data.


Most recently, the Geonames dataset has been described by an OWL ontology, with an RDF description of location names, type, and geolocation now available through a new Web Service. The ontology leverages elements of W3C Semantic Web Interest Group’s Basic Geo Vocabulary. Feature types are described using a simple SKOS* vocabulary, which has been embedded in the OWL ontology.


Society of Petroleum Engineers 2006 ATCE

The digital oilfield is as much concerned about enabling hardware, like recording instrumentation and control systems, as it is with computer modeling. Exxon reported on its 28 year experience of permanent downhole gauges and Kinder Morgan on smart well control of a CO2 flood. David Deaton (Halliburton) reported on the Real Time Optimization technical interest group’s automation benchmark study. Most vendors are too busy to be producing much in the way of new tools. But we spotted a newcomer of note in NumericalRocks. Another Norwegian organization, EPSIS, has been working on a data drill down and visualization to monitor work on Chevron’s San Ardo ‘i-field.’ The SPE is addressing the manpower problem with a ‘Young Professionals’ mentoring program and is putting distinguished lecturers presentations online, significantly reducing its carbon footprint!

SPE 2006 President Eve Sprunt noted that high oil prices have aggravated the notion that we are ‘running out of oil.’ Record profits have placed the industry under intense scrutiny. To counterbalance public ‘misconceptions,’ Sprunt suggests that members take it upon themselves to talk to friends about the industry’s image, ‘providing facts to friends, neighbors and their own families about the positive contributions that our industry makes to our everyday lives.’ The SPE is helping with a new Energy Information Committee headed by former SPE President DeAnn Craig. The EIC will supply members with the ‘latest facts and tools’ to communicate with the public.

People problem (1)

The SPE is addressing manpower issues with the Young Professionals Programs which has so far matched over 570 mentors and ‘mentees.’ Along with the new website, the SPE is working on ‘One Petro,’ which will allow users to download papers from several industry organizations and is putting (a few) of its Distinguished Lecturers’ presentations online. Plans are afoot to hold the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Europe in 2010.


2007 President Jaleel Al-Khalifa likewise addressed the human resources question. People are ‘overloaded with work.’ Industry is also stretching technology as we go into deeper water and to marginal fields. It’s time for SPE to react to these challenges with ‘quantum leaps in people and technology.’ To try to answer these questions the SPE is planning a summit for industry leaders in 2007 and is to launch a quarterly magazine, ‘Talent and Technology.’


Marathon CEO Clarence Cazalot described today’s ‘changing times‘. It is an ‘indisputable fact’ that energy demand is to grow dramatically especially from developing nations. World population is growing at quarter of a million people more every 24 hours. Today the world uses 230 mm boe. This is to rise to 285 mm boe by 2020 with 80% in developing countries. Exxon forecasts oil & gas as providing 60% of this in 2020.


Cazalot’s first critical challenge is resource access. While there are ‘more than ample’ supplies worldwide, most are controlled by host governments and NOCs. Saudi Aramco is investing ‘many billion dollars,’ but others are ‘not keeping up.’ High prices have led to ‘economic nationalism’ and aggressive new NOC competitors with ‘state to state advantages.’ There will also likely be more vertical integration. All of which is affecting costs of everything—from seismics to refining.

People problem (2)

Turning to the ‘people problem,’ Cazalot opined that, ‘Early retirement was a bad idea. Now Marathon is bringing back the boomers.’ But this will just buy a few years. So Marathon is giving older workers the time and incentive to train and mentor youngsters.

Value of information

Michael Prange (Schlumberger-Doll) compared the NPV of a project with and without an additional measurement—to quantify the value of information (VOI) such as a log run or seismic survey. VOIs can be negative. Prange’s example showed a field with a possible oil rim and indications of a possibly non-sealing fault. The question was, ‘where to place the injector, north or south of the fault?’ A logging service might answer the question. NPV formulae and decision trees were made for the two cases. The mean NPV model says drill N. But Monte Carlo runs show a spread of values offering better support in answering the question, ‘do we buy the measurement?’ In the ensuing Q&A, Shell’s Mike Odell commented that the trouble with this kind of analysis was ‘you never get the answer you wanted from an experiment!’ Prange could only agree, ‘No, you never get perfect information.’

Reservoir surveillance

David Chorneyko described ExxonMobil’s (XOM) vision of combining data from real time sources including drilling, surface acquisition, 4D seismic and downhole data from permanent pressure gauges (PDHG) and use it all to build models for surveillance, risk mitigation and to maximize production. EXOM’s permanent downhole gauge (PDHG) inventory has risen from 20 in 1990 to 1000 in 2005 (about 6% of total operated well inventory today).

Artificial lift

The majority of PDHGs are used in artificial lift optimization, providing information on pump performance as well as on the reservoir. Chorneyko showed a plot of ‘survival probability’ of a PDHG population showing how reliability increases with each generation of pump—‘infant mortality’ is decreasing with time.

Data management

Data management is ‘a great concern’ and EXOM has issued guidelines for data storage and interfaces. EXOM is a member of the PRODML initiative and is keen to ensure that this remains an ‘open, non proprietary format.’ PDHGs are a valuable resource, ‘there’s a wealth of information encoded in measurements that we are not yet understanding or exploiting.’

Smart wells in EOR

Joshua Brnak described the use of CO2 injection and smart well technology to enhance oil recovery from Kinder Morgan’s Kelly-Snyder field in Texas. Smart well technology is used to mitigate CO2 breakthrough via permanent downhole gauges, interval control valves, packers and control line umbilicals for actuation. The system monitors and controls drawdown and fluid production, distributing CO2 between zones for stimulation and clean up. The future will include ‘hi res choking’ of injectors and producers. Fine tuning is now in progress and Brnak sees a ‘great future for the technology.’

Benchmarking automation

David Deaton (Halliburton) presented results from a survey commissioned by the SPE Real Time technical Interest Group. A survey of ten leading oil and gas producers found ‘inconsistent and/or isolated application of production measurement and automation.’ Applications were driven by individuals or assets in an ad-hoc manner. There was little sharing of lessons learned beyond the asset level. Full benefits of the investment were rarely captured throughout the asset lifecycle and in general there was a sense of ‘having to do something about production measurement and automation.’


A paper by BP’s MJ Watson described the use of ‘Maximus,’ an in-house developed integrated asset management tool that was used in the ‘concept selection’ phase of the Angola Block 18 Western Area Development, 30km west of the Greater Plutonia FPSO. The paper (SPE 101826) provides a detailed description of the design process.


NumericalRocks was spun out of Statoil in 2005, following 8 years of development. Starting with a thin section of core, NumericalRocks builds a 3D rock model of around one billion voxels at a resolution of 1-3 microns. Models are built by modeling sedimentological processes and compaction. Once digitized, NumericalRocks’ technology allows for ‘geobody’ extraction à la GeoProbe and mapping of the pore network to show connectivity. Other computations extend to single/multiphase flow properties and numerical special core analysis (SCAL) for capillary pressure and relative permeability.

Spotfire DXP

A new ‘DXP’ edition of Spotfire’s Decision Site targets non expert users (DecisionSite ‘classic’ is still available for power users). We watched a demo using data from the BP Statistical Review. This data was vigorously sliced and diced to show energy use by country—aggregating and/or breaking out data onto tabs, or displayed as bubble maps. A ‘Dynamic Expression’ shows year over year change. Spreadsheets can be locked down to a ‘dashboard’ for simplified use by executives and a DXP Player can be used to distribute results.

Project Accelerator

Digital Oilfield’s ProjectAccelerator PA is a web-based, collaborative environment that provides in-house users and suppliers with access to critical project information both inside and outside the firewall. As projects evolve, PA updates project timelines and schedules. PA is used in bid preparation, request to drill, well planning and workovers.

Real Time Assistant

Norwegian EPSIS’ Real Time Assistant (ERA) for oilfield operations is used by Chevron to schedule crew operations on its Californian San Ardo ‘i-Field.’The oilfield data visualization system provides ‘one button click though’ to visualize individual work processes. A time-based display of crews’ progress helps identify and fix scheduling conflicts.


The latest release of ScienceSoft’s S3 Graph 3D now supports big models on 32 bit Microsoft Windows. This is achieved using vertex compression and DirectX 3D graphics. ScienceSoft were also showing an extraordinary new glasses-free 3D ‘autostereo’ display from Sharp. A stereo monitor costs around $450, the technology is also available on the Sharp PC-AL3DU laptop at around $2800.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle’s Sim-Office can now generate 3D, 4D or 2D seismic response from reservoir simulations. Sim-Office provides interactive reservoir model editing/ranking, mismatch analysis and history matching. By matching observed seismic attributes with synthetic attributes from reservoir models, Sim-Office provides a powerful way to apply seismic data for enhanced oil & gas recovery and dynamic data integration. Interactive model update can be performed by pen, brush or layer/polygon-based modes. Mismatch analyes can be overlain with reservoir parameter models and embedded or commercial simulators can be launched from within the application.

PDHG data logger

Kappa’s new Diamant Master data logger processes permanent downhole gauge (PDHG) and production data. Raw PDHG data is mirrored for fast access from the data historian into the Diamant Master machine. Wavelet processing reduces the number of data points and stores only relevant shut-ins (high frequency) for pressure transient analysis and producing pressures (low frequency) for production analysis and history matching. Diamant Master interfaces with Kappa’s Ecrin dynamic flow interpretation platform.

Real Time Model

Olga 5 is the latest version of ScandPower’s flagship steady state and dynamic network modeler/flow assurance package. Olga models oil, water and gas flow in wells, pipelines and receiving facilities. Olga’s real time dynamic models can forecast out to 2 hours. Olga 5 has a new interface designed for non specialist users. Fluids can be either fully compositional or described through compositionally based look-up tables. A tracking module allows for detailed tracking of individual components like hydrate inhibitors.

Tecplot RS 2007

Tecplot RS offers visual analysis and comparison of reservoir simulation and observed data. The 2007 release integrates XY graphing with 2D and 3D grid visualization into one application. Display options include historical rate data, RFT and well pressure data. Supported reservoir and streamline simulators include Eclipse, VIP, FrontSim and 3DSL.

This article has been taken from a 17 page illustrated report produced by The Data Room’s Technology Watch program. More information and sample reports from

Folks, facts and orgs…

ConocoPhillips, Total, Petris, Weatherford, CEI, Ikon, ECSI, Invensys, MSDOnline, AspenTech ...

ConocoPhillips named Kevin Meyers president of its Canadian unit, Don Wallette takes Meyer’s position as president, Russia and Caspian Region and Paul Warwick becomes president, MENA.

Yves-Louis Darricarrère will become president of Total’s E&P division next February when Christophe de Margerie becomes CEO.

Former POSC CEO David Archer has joined Petris Technology as VP product management and industry alliances. Weatherford International has promoted Andrew Becnel to CFO replacing Lisa Rodriguez who is leaving the Company.

Darin McKinnis is to head-up CEI’s new Houston office pending the hire of a new business development manager.

Ikon Science has promoted Paul O’Brien to its board as Executive Director, Sales and Marketing. Founder-shareholder Charles Hue Williams is joining the board as a non-executive director. The company also reports recent sales of its RocDok package to Petrobras and Hess.

ECSI has appointed retired US Lt. Gen. Gordon Fornell to its advisory board.

Invensys Process Systems has appointed Tom Kinney as director of performance services. Kinney returns to Invensys after a spell as VP sales with ExperTune Inc.

MSDSonline has just announced a new ‘Safety Toolkit,’ that provides access to training and compliance resources.

CompuPrint has delivered a ‘STeP’ analysis of an off-shore African oil and gas drilling prospect. Under the $2.5 million contract, the company’s Terra Insight unit uses satellite data ‘to effectively identify oil and gas and other subsurface minerals.’

Aspen Technology has formed a global Process Modeling Center of Excellence at its headquarters in Cambridge, MA, consolidating the company’s process modeling effort.

Kjell Trommestad heads-up TGS-NOPEC’s new Moscow office.

Spectrum Data has published part two of CEO Guy Holmes’ oeuvre ‘Tape Technology Basics’ comparing the merits different tape technologies. More from


Reader Murray Johnson is curious to know what happened to Ian Vincent’s free reader for the Log ASCII Standard (OITJ Vol 5 N° 4). ‘This was a very useful program to me. Unfortunately it died with my old hard drive. Despite a lot of effort it has been impossible to get another copy. Ian Vincent has disappeared and his Angelfire web site has been inactive for years. If you could help track down his software that was released to the public domain, you may be doing more folks than myself a favor.’ Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of Ian Vincent, Angelfire or the LAS reader please email

Production Access, Petris team on real time

DrillNET to integrate PA’s Operations Center, combining drilling and production data products.

Production Access (PA) and Petris Technology are to integrate PA’s Operations Center with Petris’ PetrisWINDS DrillNET. The combination of drilling and well data products promises ‘enhanced data access and reuse while improving overall quality and operational safety.’ The collaboration will combine Petris’ technical expertise management with PA’s financial and operational data management.

Operations Center

PA’s Operations Center is a data management system for drilling and production operations. DrillNET adds a planning capability for drilling program design and execution, including the ability to view data while drilling for near real-time decision making.


PA CEO John Yurkanin said, ‘This cooperation will give customers a significant enhancement to drilling workflow and overall well data management. Petris’ engineering and technical experience of drilling and wellbore data management will provide customers with a fully integrated solution to support their operations.’

Petrofac awards Invensys Kittiwake refurb

Foxboro I/A series process control system to displace legacy Emerson PCS.

Petrofac has awarded Invensys a second refurb contract for the process control systems (PCS) on the North Sea’s Kittiwake field. Petrofac operates Kittiwake on behalf of Venture Production which acquired the field from Shell in 2003. The project involves the migration of an ‘ageing’ Emerson PCS system to a new Foxboro I/A series-based solution.


Invensys project manager Hans van Gool said, ‘One benefit of the project is that lost production revenues usually associated with the upgrade path downtime are reduced from the typical six weeks to a few days, thereby outweighing the CAPEX cost of the migration project.’

State of the art

The upgrade includes state-of-the-art functionality to ensure reliable operations, improved access and exchange of management and control information. The Invensys solution is considered a low risk option with over 450 competitive PCS migrations to date. Legacy systems from Honeywell, Bailey, Moore, Westinghouse, Spectrum and Fisher have been successfully migrated, incurring typically only a single day’s production shutdown. The project is due to be completed in 2007.

1,400km of Tyco’s fiber for BP GOM operations

$80 million project to provide robust, regional communications network for up to 64 platforms.

BP America has selected Tyco Telecommunications to lay a 1400km undersea fiber optic cable in the Gulf of Mexico. The high bandwidth system links production facilities to BP’s ‘Advanced Collaborative Environment (ACE)’ centers in Houston. Initially, the Marlin, Horn Mountain, Na Kika, Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Mad Dog and Holstein platforms will be online with an upgrade potential of up to 64 platforms.


The 2005 hurricane season proved ‘challenging’ for traditional communications. With ‘long haul’ undersea telecommunications technologies, each platform is connected to a branch of the deep water trunk. Optical multiplexing gives each platform direct optical connectivity to two landing stations, ensuring continued operations, independent of any other platform during hurricane events.


Kenny Lang, BP VP Gulf of Mexico said, ‘This $80 million investment will allow early evacuation of our offshore staff whilst keeping critical energy supplies flowing. During routine operations, the fiber optic network will allow both of BP’s new technology centers to remotely apply high level technical expertise to our offshore producing facilities.’

Spacenet VSAT for Sunoco’s retailers

Gilat’s SkyeEdge platform to provide high bandwidth connectivity to refiner’s retail outlets.

Philadelphia, PA-headquartered refiner Sunoco has signed a five-year contract with Spacenet for the provision of satellite networking and managed services connecting around 900 Sunoco retail outlets across the US. Sunoco locations will be upgraded to the Gilat SkyEdge VSAT platform, enabling faster speeds, stronger security and significantly improved bandwidth efficiency. In addition, Spacenet will also provide hybrid network management solutions and application services.


Spacenet president Glenn Katz said, ‘Sunoco is one of a number of Spacenet customers that are upgrading their VSAT infrastructure to our next-generation technology platform and extending their investment in our highly reliable and cost-effective satellite networks.’

ToolWatch for Exxon Nigeria unit

Chemical tags and inventory management system to combat ‘rampant’ theft.

IDGlobal has fulfilled the first series of orders from ToolWatch to provide ExxonMobil unit Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) with technology to minimize ‘asset losses’ from its warehouses which have a value of over $100 million. ToolWatch is to deploy IDGlobal’s theft prevent technologies to secure MPN’s $100 million inventory of assets including computers, oil pumps and electrical supplies. These are now protected with a ‘forensic identification system.’

Rampant theft

MPN is seeking to combat Nigeria’s ‘rampant theft’ with the energy-sensitive molecular tagging system. A ‘taggant’ is applied to an item that penetrates the surface and forms a chemical bond with the substrate. The marking is invisible to the human eye, but can be read with a handheld scanner. Conspicuous signage provides an additional level of defense.


ToolWatch provides tool-tracking and management systems, combining data collection devices and a tool database system. The technology tracks equipment inventory in the office and field. Billing, purchasing and theft prevention functions are included.

Detection and monitoring for SPR

ECSI to provide high end security and perimeter protection for US Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is finalizing deployment of Electronic Control Security Inc.’s (ECSI) technology at four Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) facilities in Louisiana and Texas. The DOE plans to fill the SPR to capacity and to ‘aggressively protect them’ with ECSI’s Intrusion Detection and Monitoring System (IDMS). This includes intrusion detection and alarms from a wide range of sensors. Redundant servers, stand-by systems and dual ‘counter rotating’ fiber optic Ethernet offers resistance to single point of failure.


ECSI president Arthur Barchenko said, ‘Our business is to provide security solutions to prevent infiltration and guard against terrorist activities. We are very proud to have been chosen to help protect the perimeter integrity of these sensitive and important assets.’ The $8.5 million project was initiated in 2002 and is 90% complete. ECSI has also received a $1 million contract to secure Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facilities in Texas.

Premier deploys IPRES reporting tools

Reserves database and corporate reporting system provides ‘information intensive’ decision support.

UK-based Premier Oil has selected Ipres’ reserves management and reporting package ‘IPResource’ for use across its worldwide operations. Unveiled in 2004 (OITJ Vol. 9 N° 7), IPResource is a reserves database for company reporting including annual reports, SEC and key performance indicators.

Business Objects

IPResource, which was developed atop of Business Objects, stores current and historical data on production, reserves, contingent reserves and prospective resources. A customizable reporting system is included that can integrate existing company databases.


Ipres MD Arvid Elvsborg said, ‘This contract demonstrates that user-friendly software can support complex, information-intensive decision making. By partnering with Ipres, Premier shows that small, specialized companies can be in the forefront in their own niches.’

Merrick Systems volumes go global

ProCount 2007 hydrocarbon accounting package promises no more reconciliation ‘surprises’.

Merrick Systems has revamped its ProCount hydrocarbon accounting package, to address the complex allocation requirements for international. ProCount 2007 offers mixed unit support and configurable reporting.


Merrick Systems CEO Kemal Farid said, ‘ProCount gives users freedom to use the data they collect in the ways that best meet their needs, in terms of configurability and mixed unit support—making it ideal for businesses operating globally.’


ProCount can be configured graphically. The drawing module allows users to gather complete systems for allocations, add new properties and confirm configurations with field personnel. Schematics let users add multiple components, such as wells, meters, tanks and equipment, to a drawing at one time, establishing significant data connections.

No more surprises!

Farid added, ‘ProCount’s daily and monthly volume reconciling eliminates end of month surprises, making information available to all users as it is entered, giving everyone access to the same real-time information, for improved decision-making.’ New security features include password encryption and finely granular data visibility regardless of the query tools used.’ The new release now offers LPG Tank Allocations, Inhibitor Load Oil and improved interfacing with Merrick’s DynaCap product, SAP and Cygnet.

Repsol to use cc-Hubwoo invoice solution

Chemical division rolls-out Enterprise Invoice Resolution system with document ‘choreography.’

Repsol YPF has implemented cc-Hubwoo’s enterprise invoice resolution (EIR) system at its chemical division in Spain. EIR is a collaborative e-Invoicing system that lets trading partners generate, dispute and settle invoices electronically within a secure, legally compliant framework. The solution is compliant with the tax and legal regimes of Germany, France, Spain, Norway and North America. cc-Hubwoo president Alain Andreoli said, ‘With EIR, cc-hubwoo is making a significant step towards completing its Source-to-Pay offering. This solution extends significantly our existing transaction hub business, while also providing real value for suppliers, which supports our long term strategy.’


EIR offers automatic matching, minimizing disputes and eliminating manual entry. Document ‘choreography’ is provided for various workflows which can be tailored to individual organizations. Support for cross-border invoicing hides complexity from users and unstructured data capture will aid convergence of paper-based systems to the e-Invoicing environment cc-Hubwoo’s clients include Total, Gaz de France, Shell, ConocoPhillips, ENI, Repsol YPF and Statoil. Its trading hub annually processes 2 million purchase orders representing €5 billion in customer spend value.

Emerson’s digital biofuel refinery

PlantWeb monitors and controls operations at new Nova BioSource America biodiesel plants.

Nova unit BioSource America has commissioned digital technology from Emerson Process Management (EPM) for its new US biodiesel refineries. Emerson will provide instrument specifications, system design and engineering support along with its PlantWeb digital plant solution. PlantWeb networks operations, maintenance and management stations with computers and intelligent instruments—continuously monitoring processes and providing predictive reports and alerts that enable personnel to operate at capacity and to resolve maintenance issues before they impact production. The projects have an estimated $2,100,000 worth of Emerson content.


EPM president John Berra said, ‘The production of alternative fuels from domestic, renewable resources is an important ecological initiative,. We are pleased to be selected by Nova to digitally automate its refineries.’ Biodiesel is set to grow to around 2% of the US fuel market by 2010.

POSC ProdML/Production SIG meet

ProdML integrates the POSC/Energistics Production Operations SIG—2007 program sketched out.

Alan Doniger (POSC/Energistics) enumerated likely priorities for 2007 as network modeling and optimization, more well types and more optimization including remote monitoring and diagnostics, closer integration of ProdML and WitsML, production reporting and tracking new developments in web services and SCADA/ OPC Foundation standards.

ProdML V1.0

ProdML V1 was officially released on November 15th following a short public review. Jerry Blaker (IBM) described the process that had led to this timely release. ProdML’s scope targeted a business requirement in real need of a data exchange standards. Uses cases were designed to solve real and relatively complex business problems by assembling existing commercial applications into a composite application with the required functionality (see last month’s Journal).

De Vries

Invensys’ Stan De Vries outlined one of the likely projects for 2007—the network model. To date, ProdML’s scope has been restricted to actions taking place between the data historian and downstream applications. The plan now is to extend ProdML’s scope to include direct links to SCADA. A ‘network model’ will serve data of ‘appropriate granularity’ to applications—enabling ‘as needed’ data flows. By extending ProdML’s scope upstream of the Historian, detailed information will be available for equipment optimization—with summary levels of information for field-wide optimization.

Meta Object Facility

The network model plans to leverage the Object Management Group’s ‘meta object facility’ (MOF) and the W3C’s Web Services Modeling Ontology (W3C WSMO). One possibility will be the use of a ProdML XML file of the network model linked into a fluid flow simulator possibly leveraging Web Services Modeling Language to combine and or decompose models as required and to bridge domain boundaries such as gas lift and production. Models at different granularities (compressor, well etc.) can be aggregated to facilities and combined into an overall flow model.

ProdML 07 Workgroup

This ProdML 07 Work Group encapsulates the concept of conducting an ‘annual, concentrated effort’ to demonstrate expanded capabilities for POSC Production Standards. The results will be showcased at the 2007 SPE Conference. High-level business objectives for the workgroup will be decided by the Steering Committee. POSC is looking for funding of between $75 and $100k from members.

Strong typing

The public review elicited a fair amount of feedback, ‘mostly positive.’ The group commissioned a critical review of its SOA infrastructure implementation from a third party. The result of this was the addition of strong typing to the specification as opposed to the loosely typed web services of the original specification. Strongly typed services make for greater confidence in the integrity of a connection.

P2ES Enterprise Upstream user group

Users discuss electronic A&D, production data validation and SCADA data management.

Ken Olive, president of P2ES parent group, the Oil & Gas Asset Clearinghouse, spoke on the topic of technology in acquisition and divestiture projects, ‘Technology was supposed to make life easier, instead, today’s A&D transactions are still painful. Some 30% of data is incorrect and must be corrected before divestment—all in the context of increasingly high data volumes to be transferred.’


Enter P2ES’ new ‘Rx’ solution, a software-enabled due diligence service. Rx is built on the P2ES A&D Module, rolling in domain expertise from Tobin (GIS) and the Clearinghouse’s A&D know-how. The due diligence service confirms ownership, contractual obligations, verifies leaseholds, financials and can even locate missing wells and other contractual information. Production and financial due diligence challenges are also addressed in the process. The A&D module can be deployed internally or provided as a component of the Rx service. A standard data model acts as a temporary home for seller due diligence data and a toolkit is provided for data clean-up and validation prior to sale.

BHP Billiton

Importing SCADA and telemetry data into volume accounting packages like P2ES’ Enterprise Upstream can raise complex data format issues. A new P2ES tool, Electronic Data Validation (EDV) has been used by BHP Billiton to map, validate and import SCADA data to EU. EDV use begins in the control room to display and validate data for daily reporting and transfer to EU. Data is aggregated to a central EU instance in Houston from remote sites around the world (Trinidad, Australia, UK, Pakistan and GOM). EDV also acts as a temporary data store which can be cleared at a user defined interval.


EDV deployment made for significant time savings on facilities - saving around one person-year over 5 facilities. Data Quality has improved to an extent by reducing the number of transcription errors. Poor quality data is now more visible. One unexpected benefit was to highlight data that was being ‘corrected’ before leaving the facility.

Data Food Chain

EDV addresses many issues arising in the data food chain. If data issues such as poor or missing sensors are not tackled before they enter the production data chain they are hard or impossible to identify and fix. This can have disastrous consequences on operators from wasting time analyzing and modeling invalid data to causing incorrect appraisal and drilling decisions.


EDV Implementation has reduced improved data accessibility by a 24 hours. Standardizing on one package has increased staff mobility and expert users in one facility provide 24x7 support to other facilities.

High end metering for Independence Hub

Roxar’s WetGas meter and SandMonitor critical for multi-field GOM development.

On the basis that ‘you can‘t manage what you can’t measure,’ Anadarko, operator of the Independence Hub (IDH), is to deploy Roxar’s subsea WetGas meter and SandMonitor on the $2 billion Independence Hub (IDH) in the Gulf of Mexico.


The IDH will facilitate the development of multiple ultra-deepwater gas discoveries in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Gas fraction monitoring is important for allocation and to avoid gas hydrate formation. The WetGas meter uses microwave-based dielectric measurements for real-time measurement of hydrocarbon flow rates and water production.


The subsea SandMonitor attaches to the outside of a pipeline just downstream of an elbow, where the san particles hit the inside of the pipe wall due to the change in flow direction. The device then detects the impact of sand particles acoustically.


Meter calibration leverages digital signal processing and velocity measurements from the wet gas meter. The combination of measurement devices will allow Anadarko to operate each well ‘aggressively’ near the limit of water production.


The metering technology has also been deployed on the Barents Sea Snohvit development where the WetGas meter is used to mitigate pipeline corrosion. IDH partners are Dominion Exploration, Hydro and Devon.

BP claims world-beating compute cluster

BP’s Ellis Armstrong explains wide azimuth seismic process to Harvard grads.

BP VP E&P Ellis Armstrong addressed the Harvard Business School Energy Club last month, on the sophisticated technology that BP is applying to its search for new conventional resources, tight gas and renewables. BP has been investing heavily in seismic technology for both exploration and production. One innovative new seismic technique leverages BP’s own in-house compute cluster (OITJ Vol. 8 N° 4), which Armstrong described as ‘one of the most, if not the most, powerful computing centers outside of the US government.’


The cluster is used to process seismic data from BP’s ‘Wide Azimuth Seismic’ (WAZ) surveys in the Gulf of Mexico. WAZ uses multiple seismic sources and acquisition vessels to collect information from many different angles and image below the thick salt canopy. BP has moved the WAZ technology from design to proof of concept in under 12 months and can now process the large data volumes from a WAZ survey ‘in a few weeks.’

Permanent sensors

In BP’s Caspian Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli giant field, permanent ocean bottom seismic sensors send data ‘in real time’ to the control centre, tracking how oil, gas and water are moving in the reservoir. Such monitoring is critical to assure accurate void replacement by simultaneous injection of water into the base of the oil column, and gas into the gas cap, described by Armstrong as ‘a balancing act.’


BP is using a ‘blend of seismic, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing’ to maximize gas production of the Wamsutter tight gas test-bed. BP also ‘supports the emerging consensus that measures should be taken to stabilize CO2 levels in the atmosphere’ and is to invest $8 billion dollars over the next 10 years in clean energies. BP is building the world’s first hydrogen power station at its Californian Carson refinery.

UTEK sells Intelli-Well unit to Avalon

Lawrence Livermore’s ‘smart casing’ to monitor production with ‘data fusion.’

Technology-focused venture capital unit UTEK Corp. has sold its Intelli-Well Technologies (IWT) unit to Avalon Oil and Gas. IWT holds a license for a borehole casing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). LLNL’s ‘smart borehole casing’ uses a dense network of a variety of sensors to monitor production.


Data from multiple sensor types is combined using ‘data fusion technology’ to provide real-time knowledge of processes such as primary and secondary oil recovery. Various sensors are assembled onto the outside of the casing before it is cemented in place, including seismic, resistivity tomography, electromagnetic induction tomography and thermocouples.


Avalon CEO Kent Rodriguez said, ‘One of our primary goals is to improve oil recovery efficiency for existing resources. We believe this technology potentially accomplishes this by deriving useful information about field production.’


LLNL business development executive Randall Elder added, ‘Avalon is helping us develop and commercialize our new well casing-based geophysical sensor apparatus, system and method.’ The LLNL is operated by the University of California under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.

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