July-August 2006

Paradigm buys GOCAD

Paradigm has bought Earth Decision, developers of the GOCAD geomodeling package. Paradigm chairman John Gibson plans to leverage GOCAD in novel model-centric workflows.

Earth Decision, vendor of the GOCAD geomodeling package, has been the object of intense speculation for some time with strong rumors of a aborted sale to Halliburton earlier this year. Paradigm CEO John Gibson has put an end to the rumors with the announcement of a definitive agreement to acquire Earth Decision for an undisclosed sum.


Gibson said, ‘Given our vision for model-centric workflows, this acquisition represents a tremendous advantage for E&P scientists and engineers. For collaboration and real time decision making, our customers need an interactive reservoir model at the center of their workflow. By combining our complementary technology portfolios this vision becomes a reality. Asset teams can explore ‘what if’ scenarios on-the-fly and determine the best plan for extracting the full potential from every reservoir safely and economically.’


GOCAD, Earth Decision’s flagship, is developed by a consortium led by the National School of Geology (ENSG) in Nancy, France, directed by Professor Jean-Laurent Mallet whose ‘discrete smooth interpolation’ technique is the lynchpin of the modeling engine. In 1998, the Consortium gave Earth Decision an exclusive license for the GOCAD’s commercialization. The Consortium now develops prototype GOCAD plug-ins, while Earth Decision assures the maintenance, development and commercialization of the ‘official’ software kernel.


The combined company will be called Paradigm and Gibson will remain Chairman and CEO. Paradigm expects to maintain Earth Decision’s global office network and does not expect significant workforce reductions.


Paradigm’s developers will have their work cut out integrating GOCAD with VoxelGeo and GeoDepth. Especially as they are already hard at work plugging Epos into Open Spirit (OS). But as OS president Dan Piette told Oil IT Journal, ‘A strong third player in E&P software is good for everyone, including OS!’

Fox Paine

Paradigm was acquired by San Francisco-based private equity house Fox Paine back in 2002 in a $100 million cash transaction (OITJ Vol. 7 N°5). Since then, the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector index has almost tripled. With the industry riding high, could it be time for an IPO?


This is yet another example of how Europe does a great job of developing cutting-edge software, but falls short on venture financing. The EU taxpayer pays (at least in part) for the R&D, and a Californian venture capital fund reaps the lion’s share of the rewards!

Fugro buys Trango

Low cost acquisition kicks-off new Data Solutions unit. Fugro to develop data management solutions targeting small to midsize oil companies.

Netherlands-based Fugro has acquired Canadian data management specialist Trango Technologies from Pulse Data of Calgary for € 1.3 million. Trango employs 13 staff and has an annual turnover of € 1.5 million. Alberta-based Trango will be integrated with Fugro’s newly autonomous Data Solutions unit.


The acquisition of Trango Technologies heralds an expansion of Fugro’s data management offering in North America and internationally. Fugro plans to continue to develop Trango’s products and to integrate them with its existing Data Solutions application portfolio.


Trango’s Manager flagship is a .NET/ESRI-based development that offers enterprise seismic data management for internal and hosted data.

Van Riel

Fugro’s Paul van Riel told Oil IT Journal, ‘This intelligent, web-enabled data storage solution falls midway between project data management solutions and heavyweight corporate data stores. We will be working to internationalize this primarily Canadian product which will be marketed as an efficient data management solution for small to midsize companies.’

Grass no greener on other side of DOFF fence

Editor Neil McNaughton wonders which direction technology is being transferred in the digital oilfield. Is the upstream to apply technology from the downstream? Or is it the other way round? His investigations lead to the discovery of yet another silo boundary, at the very heart of the digital oilfield. Oh, and by the way, this issue concludes 10 years of Oil IT Journal’s existence!

A common sales pitch from technology vendors is that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Much of the discussion around the digital oilfield of the future (DOFF) revolves around the idea that the upstream is a technology laggard. In particular, that the upstream has failed to implement real time simulation and optimization technology that is supposed to prevail in the refinery.


In a Control Magazine podcast* this month. Editor in Chief Walt Boyes was interviewing Pavilion Technologies’ Matt Tormollen, and Halliburton’s Richard Ella about their joint offering (OITJ Vol. 11 N° 4) which sets out to ‘make the vision of a real time integrated asset model a reality.’ Boyes was obviously intrigued by what Halliburton was proposing for the field of the future. At one point he described the new offering as the ‘holy grail’ of process engineering where everything is integrated. This brought a degree of backtracking from his interlocutors. The upstream is supposed to be a laggard, not a leader after all. You can listen to the podcast on controlglobal.com and hear Tormollen and Ella argue their case for operations-focused modeling.


I visited a refinery myself last year and was surprised to find that simulation was very separate from operations and used almost exclusively in operator training. I imagined at the time that this was an unusual site – perhaps a technology laggard which hadn’t been penetrated by the real time stuff. Reading the announcement this month of Hyperion’s simulator that has just been commissioned by Saudi Aramco for its Riyadh refinery (page 8), it seems as though simulation is still mostly about operator training. Although the Hyperion tool will be used for ‘process analyses and de-bottlenecking’, there is no mention of real time optimization here.


On page 7 of this issue, you can read our report from the 2006 Plant Engineering Lifecycle Conference (PELC) held in The Hague last month. We have been following this conference since 1998 (when it was Plant Information Management) along with the meetings of the USPI-NL standards body for plant engineering information technology. In the early days, I felt that this was pushing the boat out a bit far for Oil IT Journal’s upstream readership. But there were links between the upstream and the plant communities—notably through POSC/CAESAR. Our coverage was based on the supposition that the IT that was used to build a platform would sooner or later come under the radar of the folks that were operating it.

Double take

As the 2006 PELC was closing, I noticed that AspenTech was exhibiting for the first time. I did a double take. The first because I figured that AspenTech was more of a process control shop than a plant engineer. The second came because in four PIM/PELC conferences, this the first time I’d seen a connection to the process control world per se. I wondered, was this another silo boundary dividing the plant from the process world? A boundary of almost fractal complexity that runs along pipes, between valves, around heat exchangers, separating their physical manifestations from their associated control systems?


To check this out, I asked USPI-NL chairperson, Paul van Exel for help. He sent my query on to DSM’s Hindrik Koning who confirmed that, ‘Your impression is correct, we are trying to harmonize information standards with many groups, but we are short of manpower. In the process control field, we have been working with the Instrument Society of America (ISA) and the German NAMUR organization to align ISO 15926 part 4 with ISA.’ We’ll be providing more of Hindrik’s detailed response in the September issue of Oil IT Journal.

IT the glue?

What is exciting about all the silos and disconnects above it that the magic words ‘digital oilfield’ bring a great jumble of standards, work practices, engineering and science together. A valve and its computer control systems ought to have an identity that is carried from design, through handover, operations, maintenance and the holistic modeling proposed by Landmark, Pavilion and others. I know that we’ve been here before, but this time around I just wanted to point out that our dilettante conference attendance is helping us—and I hope our readership, navigate around a DOFF of mind boggling scope.

10 years of Oil IT Journal

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that this issue of Oil IT Journal concludes ten years of reporting on oil and gas information technology. When Petroleum Data Manager (PDM—Oil IT Journal’s predecessor) started out back in 1996, each issue contained around 7,000 words. Last month’s Oil IT Journal contained 9,600 words—nearly 40% more! Over the ten year period we’ve written around 920,000 words, more than Tolstoy’s War and Peace (560,000 words) but less than Proust’s A la Recherche du Temps Perdu—which has been estimated at a whopping 3 million words. Figures are for numerical, rather than literary comparison purposes.


Over the last ten years we have expanded our scope from PDM’s data management focus to oil and gas IT at large. We have also extended our reach from the upstream to pipeline, process and facility. To find that all this reporting on applications, e-business, engineering and the rest at the heart of the DOFF is gratifying. But what I find most interesting is that the role of an oil company chief information officer is not just to apply technology. He or she now is in a unique position to work around the petty silo barriers. IT is more than an ‘enabler.’ Actually, it is the DOFF’s prime mover. Go to it!

* www.controlglobal.com/articles/2006/131.html

Interview—John Gibson, Paradigm CEO

Oil IT Journal interviewed Paradigm CEO at the EAGE—just before the Earth Decision acquisition.

What was the substance of your talk at the Schlumberger Information Systems (SIS) ‘Open’ Symposium earlier this year?

That Paradigm is committed to openness leadership in science, work processes and process auditability.

What do you understand by openness?

Despite investment in POSC/PPDM, the industry still doesn’t have a standard. It is nevertheless important that leaders in technology commit around a platform and this is where Paradigm is taking a leadership role. Even though we have made a tremendous commitment to Epos, we have been prepared to compromise and go for OpenSpirit (OS). We are impressed with SIS’ commitment to openness and OS and its willingness to have me on the OS board of directors. Schlumberger is to help Paradigm adapt to the OS platform.

Interoperability means many things to SIS—OS, Ocean and of course Petrel.

We are interested in linking to Petrel for customers doing high end simulation of basins and fields.

Both Epos and OS are CORBA buses which should make a convergence or rationalization relatively easy.

We are working through which pieces are important for our customers and trying to figure out what to do here. There are differences in approach however. OS is data centric and focuses on data exchange while Epos is workflow centric. We will continue to work on Epos – Epos V3 will be out in September. We are committed to support a best of breed environment and don’t want to restrict Epos.

Is Epos core business to Paradigm?

Yes. Epos has more hooks to data than OS. But we appreciate and expect OS to be a moderator of the pace of change re Halliburton and SIS. Letting them work side by side at least for the near term. Our focus is data flow rather than data management.

How can you support prestack interpretation without doing data management?

The industry is complex. Operators have to consider the climate picture offshore, track icebergs and whales! Data management is bigger than one vendor. Maybe bigger than an oil company. I suggest G&G companies should partner with companies like IBM who are into more generic data management services.

Book Reviews—holiday reading (not!)

Three reviews, of Neural Nets in Oil and Gas, Spatial Metadata Standards and RFID Essentials.

Neural Networks and Soft Computing in the Oil Industry* promises ‘an in-depth, yet easy to read’, introduction to the subject and its application to geoscience. We found the first chapter, on neural nets, rather hard going and, contrary to the book’s stated intent, free of oil and gas examples. Other chapters, on fuzzy logic and genetic algorithms are equally short on oil and gas-related material. In general the explanations of both techniques fall short of public domain sources, notably Wikipedia, now a benchmark for technical writers. The book includes reproductions of three articles from the EAGE’s First Break with a greater industry focus. But you’ll need a magnifying glass to get the most out of the small type. CD-ROMs of dGB’s OpendTect package and a large sample data set are included.


World Spatial Metadata Standards** is a worthy if mostly unreadable tome but it does beat Wikipedia which is silent on the subject! The first chapters introduce the concepts of metadata and its various regional flavors. The chapter on ISO/TC211 is marginally informative, but the bulk of the book is a collection of questionnaire responses from national metadata authorities. These plethoric lists and the ‘database dump’ format would have been better presented on a website.


RFID Essentials*** offers a no-nonsense introduction to the industrial application of radio frequency identification technology and its data standards. RFID Essentials gives Wikipedia more than a good run for the money. Of the three, this is the one that we would take to the beach!

* ISBN 90-73781-50-7 by Fred Aminzadeh and Paul de Groot. EAGE 2006.

** ISBN 0-08-0439-49-7 by Harold Mollering et al.. Elsevier 2006.

*** ISBN 0-596-00944-5 by Bill Glover and Himanshu Bhatt. O’Reilly 2006.

‘Ten Commandments’ of data management

Kuwait Gulf Oil’s Baqer Bahbahani offers some advice on successful data management.

Baqer Bahbahani, Superintendent of E&P Data Management with Kuwait Gulf Oil Company’s (KGOC) Joint Operations, offers ‘Ten Commandments’ for data management success. These evolved from lessons learned on KGOC projects and have been drafted with help from Schlumberger’s Abdelhak El-Hachemi.

1. Get active, efficient, genuine involvement of management (a must).

2. Embed domain-knowledgeable people in the team.

3. Implement in phases starting with most critical data (e.g. production) to get user commitment.

4. Measure ROI, have a metrics methodology prior to project initiation accountability of IM.

5. Pin IM objectives in core business KPI to get users’ commitment.

6. Avoid ‘ad hoc’ applications—it is better to wait for commercial products.

7. Identify key users’ requirements and focus on them (to get users’ buy-in).

8. Use a simple, user friendly decision-centric web interface to minimize training.

9. Document, document (again!), and keep documents updated for maintenance and ‘survivability’.

10. Expect resistance to change, this may be blatant or passive—human nature being what it is!

Software/hardware, sales, new releases ...

Software and hardware short takes this month cover Petrosys Release 15, Datalog’s WellWizard Tour Sheet, JOA Jewel Suite, Simco’s Internet Application Suite (beta), M2M Data’s 2.5 iSCADA release and alliances between C Tech and EarthSoft, ESRI and SAP, and IBM and Mercury.

Release 15 of Petrosys’ mapping package offers improved control and auditability of the gridding process and extends connectivity to other grid and raster data formats including GeoFrame, OpenWorks, ArcSDE, Arc raster catalogue and Rescue. A direct connect is now provided to Kelman (KTI) seismic archives in Calgary. Petrosys workflows leverage XML to capture typical software usage such as gridding. XML allows jobs to be run in batch mode or for sharing of expertise between users.

JOA Jewel Suite now provides support for 25 million cell models and a new automated structural modeling (ASM) workflow that creates a ‘water-tight’ structural framework for reservoir simulation. ASM cleans up inconsistencies in a seismic interpretation such as horizon and fault overlaps or gaps. A 64 bit Windows version of JOA Jewell will be released later this year. A ‘mid-market’ release of the full static and dynamic modeling package (limited to models of under 1 million cells) is now available for $30,000/year rental.

Roumania-based Simco has announced a public beta version of its internet application suite for the oil industry at petroclient.com. The package offers online tools for unit conversion, reservoir characterization, mass balance, flow assurance, engineering and economics.

M2M Data has just released an upgrade to its internet-based SCADA service, iSCADA. The 2.5 release adds new functionality and enhancements to the ‘end-to-end’ managed network for communicating data between remote assets, operators, and enterprise IT systems. M2M has also signed joint marketing agreements with Simple Com Tools and Motient Communications for integration and deployment of M2M’s applications.

C Tech Development has signed an engineering and marketing agreement with EarthSoft to integrate C Tech’s Environmental Visualization Systems (EVS) with EarthSoft’s EQuIS 5 product line. C Tech’s Automation System (AutoSys) is now in final review with the US Environmental Protection Agency.

ESRI’s ArcGIS 9.1 has received a ‘Powered by NetWeaver’ accolade from SAP. ESRI and SAP users can now integrate enterprise server GIS with SAP solutions. The certification tests cover deployment of Java 2 Enterprise Edition applications on SAP NetWeaver and integration with the SAP Portal.

Mercury Computer Systems is to partner with IBM to integrate IBM’s Cell microprocessor technology in its computer systems designed for data-intensive applications. The IBM Cell Broadband Engine is the scientific and technical version of the chipset used in Sony’s Playstation 3 and promises a 200 GFLOPS processing bandwidth .

Datalog has announced a new WellWizard Tour Sheet (WWTS) application that generates an electronic daily drilling report from its Electronic Drilling Recorder and the ANAX 500 Mud Logging System. The WWTS generated PDF report includes pertinent well data, operational details and payroll information and is licensed by the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC). Support for the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) Tour Sheet is planned.

Saudi Aramco extends scanning contract

SpectrumIT contract extended to include drilling and reservoir description documents.

Saudi Geophysical Consulting (SGC) and SpectrumITech, a division of UK-based Spectrum Energy and IT, have been awarded an extension of their current data management contract with Saudi Aramco. Spectrum has been providing in-house data management services to Saudi Aramco’s Exploration Data Management Division since 2002—as outlined in Tawfeeq AlFaraj’s presentation at the IQPC Bahrain conference (page 7 of this issue). In an extension to the ongoing project, Spectrum and SGC will provide similar services to the Saudi Aramco’s Drilling and Workover (DWO) and Reservoir Description Divisions (RDD) through to late 2007.

26 million documents

Saudi Aramco’s records go back to 1933 and comprise around 26 million technical documents of many types. In the past locating, maintaining and disseminating this hardcopy data proved ‘laborious and time consuming’. In 1998 Saudi Aramco embarked on an ambitious electronic data management (EDM) project to index and scan these documents with the objectives of creating a comprehensive catalogue and inventory and significantly reducing the physical archive space.


Spectrum’s proprietary scanning, indexing and quality control software runs on various Spectrum-maintained networks within Saudi Aramco. These networks are physically isolated from Aramco’s own networks for security and data integrity.


A number of scanning sub systems have been installed comprising continuous feed and A0 format scanners to capture large format materials such as maps, seismic and well log plots. A3/A4 monochrome and color scanners capture smaller documents such as reports, photographs and enclosures. Indexing, cataloguing and administration is performed on Spectrum’s workstations. Following scanning, indexing, and QC, images are uploaded to the Saudi Aramco EDM system.

Unstructured data

Saudi Aramco now has a flexible system that can be expanded to handle other types of unstructured non-E&P data such as engineering documentation, facilities management, financial, maintenance and technical plans and drawings. The solution is now extending to other departments and locations throughout the huge Saudi Aramco compound in Dhahran and within other Saudi Aramco facilities such as those at Ras Tanura.

Neuralog and Zeh team on printing solution

New package offers high speed, managed log plotting direct from upstream applications.

Neuralog and Zeh Software have announced a high speed log printing package combining the NeuraLaser log printer with Zeh’s Plot Express software for Unix, Linux and Windows. Plot Express prints directly from industry applications and includes Zeh’s print queue management. NeuraLaser prints logs at four inches per second in black and white on plain archival paper. NeuraStackers refold log prints and provide for unattended operation for up to 1,000 feet of paper.


You might think that with ‘digital business’ the focus on scanning and printing was something of an anachronism. Not at all, according to Neuralog’s Javan Meinwald who told Oil IT Journal that Neuralog’s business is booming with several major accounts embarked on large scanning projects. Shell in particular is reported as having a ‘scan everything’ policy, worldwide.

Veritas’ remote processing quality control

New VRQC service offers interactive, remote seismic processing and visualization.

Veritas has launched a new on-line service, Veritas Remote QC (VRQC), that offers clients secure, worldwide interactive access to seismic data in real-time from almost anywhere in the world.

Kerr McGee

Kerr-McGee has been using VRQC to QC its seismic processing projects. According to Victor Kriechbaum, geophysicist with Kerr-McGee, ‘VRQC let staff in Houston quality-control processing performed in the UK. In both fast-track 3D processing and for our extensive PSTM project, VRQC has helped in situations where PowerPoint images won’t work. VRQC let us run Veritas’ Expose seismic data viewer to scroll, zoom and scale the seismic data or to create difference sections.’


The package also hosts on-line meetings as Veritas’ Chris Denchfield, explained, ‘On-line meetings enable client representatives, interpreters and processors to interact directly with the seismics and with each other, saving time and money. It also provides earlier interpretive input, more focused processing and enhanced QC.’


VRQC technology enablers include secure portals, high performance firewalls and Mercury International’s ThinAnywhere servers. Security measures separate guest users from the production environment and ensure that clients cannot access each other’s data.

Schlumberger acquires TerraTek

Data and Consulting Services unit to create geomechanical center of excellence in Salt Lake City.

Schlumberger has acquired geomechanics specialist TerraTek of Salt Lake City. TerraTek provides multidisciplinary expertise in geosciences and engineering in the fields of unconventional gas, drilling performance, reservoir studies and core log integration.


DCS president Chris Hopkins said, ‘By integrating TerraTek’s knowledge of applied geomechanics core evaluation with our expertise in petrophysics and geomechanics, we will enhance the value of our services, particularly in the unconventional gas reservoirs that will produce a greater proportion of future world supply.

Center of Excellence

TerraTek’s 80-strong staff will form the core of a new Geomechanics Laboratory Center of Excellence for Schlumberger’s Data and Consulting Services (DCS) unit. TerraTek CEO Sidney Green added, ‘This is a significant step for our employees and our customers. As part of the DCS group, our measurements and analysis of rock properties can leverage the industry’s leading petrophysical technologies as well as provide substantial knowledge to further develop advanced reservoir solutions.’

Tsunami awarded patent for seismic FPGA

Seismic processing house claims ‘easy to use’ solution leveraging new Cray XD1 FPGA-based supercomputer.

Tsunami Development of Houston has been granted a US patent for its technique for seismic processing with Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA). FPGAs are hardware devices with programmable logic components and programmable interconnects. FPGAs can be programmed to perform filtering and other math functions.


The Tsunami patent leverages FPGAs to provide a highly parallel computation where ‘a thousand pipelines or more are implemented.’ Parts of seismic traces can be distributed across FPGAs for processing and reformed to a 3D image. Tsunami claims to have created an ‘easy-to-use, leading edge solution for imaging prestack seismic data’ with FPGA technology.


Partner Interactive Network Technologies (INT) is providing user interface and display capabilities and S2S Systems is building a 2D/3D velocity analysis package using the technology. Tsunami is also working with Cray on an FPGA-based supercomputer, the Cray XD1, which will be capable of cost effective ‘reverse time wave equation migration.’


IBM is also working with Tsunami to leverage its ‘Blue Gene’ in seismic processing. Blue Gene is now available as a 32 CPU dual core PowerPC-based motherboard—around 2,000 CPU’s per rack and up to 1TB memory.

EAGE—EUROPEC 2006, Vienna

Keynote speakers to the 68th meeting of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers spoke of exciting times in an industry which is ‘at the top of everyone’s agenda’. OMV’s Helmut Langanger wondered if this was boom time or revenge time for suppliers. We report on Total’s move to ubiquitous pre-stack depth migration of its seismic data, Petrel data management, Aramco’s knowledge management and new hardware from IBM.

Martin Bartenstein, Austrian Minister of Economics and Labor gave the keynote address to the 68th EAGE conference held in Vienna last month. Energy is at the top of everyone’s agenda, with demand set to rise 50% by 2030. Hydrocarbons will continue to dominate. Renewables will ‘decrease the increase,’ but will not change the fundamentals of demand for oil and gas—and coal, where demand is increasing most. Downstream, refining capacity is lacking and requires investment at a ‘most gigantic’ level. Global warming ‘is an issue for all,’ although there is ‘no realistic chance’ that the US will implement the Kyoto agreement. Clean carbon technologies like ‘flue free’ carbon chemical non-burning ‘combustion’ may be a way out.


OMV’s Helmut Langanger noted the increasingly tough tax terms for new licenses, musing that, as $30/barrel is still possible, ‘Will host governments revise the tax take down? I wonder...’ Today capex and opex are rising steeply. ‘If you want tubulars, join the queue!’ Langanger described the current situation as ‘boom time for suppliers—or should that be revenge time?’ Ten years ago, a 100 million barrel field was ‘comme ci comme ca’. Today, smallish fields in the 30-50 mmbbl are back on the agenda. Overall, ‘This is the most exciting time in the upstream for 30/40 years. There is no alternative to oil and gas for the next 50 years, the future is bright.’


Eric Steenken, (RAG) noted that mature basins (the theme of the conference) hold around 95 billion barrels of oil equivalent (bnboe) reserves of which 72 bnboe have been produced, leaving 23 bnboe to come from mature fields. Technology advances are potentially rewarding. A 1% recovery hike gives an extra bnboe. But it is worth noting that this implies 20 years more production from 20 year old facilities (especially pipelines) which is ‘a formidable challenge’. It will require serious investment to get infrastructure back into shape. According to Erasmus awardee Augustinus Berkhout, ‘energy has become so important to society as a whole, that if something happens to supply, we will be in big trouble’. $100/bbl oil is ‘just a matter of time’ and this will transform oil and gas into a high value industry that ‘doesn’t buy-back its own shares’, one that introduces new concepts rather than ‘chewing over old stuff’. We need new tools that we don’t have today. For instance in seismics, our capability to do reservoir characterization would be greater if we spent more on acquisition. Today’s segmented budgets means that the acquisition budget is in the hands of the seismic people – not the reservoir management community.


Yves le Stunff presented some results from Total’s near ubiquitous seismic depth imaging which is no longer reserved for complex situations. Depth imaging is changing Total’s interpretation workflows, and simplifies links to the earth model. Total’s new workflow moves depth conversion ‘upstream’ by building the model early. This makes for slower upfront depth cube building, but accelerated geo-modeling. Pre stack depth imaging heralds a ‘new era’ in interpretation. The downside is the cost and a longer wait for the seismic interpretation. The project also signals a move to in-house software development which is helping break down the processing/interpretation silo boundary.

Saudi Aramco

Saudi Aramco has developed a web-based system for managing drilling information. The Drilling Knowledge Base (DKB) produces template-based reports for well prognosis, daily drilling, drill time analysis, mud use and planned vs. actual analyses. The system was developed with J2EE, a Flex Charts development is in progress. Each rig is responsible for database population over the web. Saudi Aramco is moving towards automated data capture with real time data links. Another project uses Adobe’s LiveCycle Forms to provide service companies with templates for offline population of the DKB.

Virtual reality

2D3D Animations produces interactive virtual reality displays that can be used for office reception areas, training and R&D concept development. An interactive animation showed CGG’s new remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for deployment of seabed sensors for seismic recording. 2D3D mixes techniques from video games and the traditional company video. Check out the sample animation of a Devonian sea at animatia-online.com/video/DiveIntoTheOrigins.avi.

Petrel data management

Russ Sagert presented Schlumberger Information Solutions’ (SIS) four approaches to Petrel workflow integration and data management. These start with ‘simple deployment’ of OpenSpirit (OS) whose data footprint now embraces more of Petrel’s data types. Level 2, the Petrel Reference Project, will give co-workers notification of changes such as a re-picked fault path. More sophistication is available at Level 3 with the ProSource GUI and results manager that allows snapshots of projects to be captured and managed in a Seabed database. Level 4 (nirvana?) will be available in 2008 when users can expect a ‘full footprint’ Seabed data store for Petrel project data.


IBM booth personnel movements were tracked by a new Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system for Critical Asset Tracking (CAT). The RFID provides time-stamped information on the location of people and movable objects, allowing for ‘processes analysis and optimization.’ RFID CAT is used in petrochemicals and was developed in response to increasingly stringent US safety regulations. The technology should also be amenable to fulfilling offshore ‘people on board’ requirements. IBM was also showing a new Playstation III chipset-based Cell Broadband Engine. Fast Fourier transform tests have shown 400 GigaFlop performance for a single 3.2 GHz Cell BE.

This article is a summary of one of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Reports. More from tw@oilit.com.

IQPC Middle East Data Management, Bahrain

IQPC’s first Middle East data and knowledge management conference confirmed the methodical approach adopted by National Oil Companies to preserving information assets. We report on data initiatives from Saudi Aramco, Kuwait Oil Co. Woodside and Shell’s Oman unit. A speaker from OPEC described the JODI data initiative to increase transparency and aid market stability.

Tawfeeq AlFaraj described Saudi Aramco’s ongoing effort to preserve 70 years worth of E&P data. Saudi Aramco (SA) has had an in-house geodata library since the 1930s. The current project involved indexing and scanning all SA’s legacy exploration data, giving online access to geoscientists. Data is being centralized in a single EDMS. SA’s EDM Department’s role is to index, scan, QC and make data available. Despite the challenges in handling such a huge, disorganized, legacy data set, the project has resulted in a set of high quality, indexed and accessible scanned images in TIF format. This has expedited SA’s exploration and delineation process and safeguarded 70 years of Aramco’s history, improving data discovery and adding value to the dataset—for example by locating orphaned or lost data items such as valuable uphole seismic records. Documentum and Oracle were key technology providers. UK-based Spectrum provides the scanning services (see page 4).


Baqer Bahbahani described the use of Hyperion’s business intelligence and reporting package to manage and analyze production data from Kuwait Gulf Oil Co.’s Al Khafji Joint Operations (KJO) unit. Previously, multiple data sources and stores meant there was no single source of truth and no standard formats. KJO’s IT stack now includes a customized PowerBuilder front end, Schlumberger’s Avocet, FieldView, OFM and Finder. A Sybase replication server links to Hyperion’s Business Intelligence Performance Suite. Dashboards have been created for individual users. Operators see a PowerBuilder generated web ‘sheet’ that looks just like the paper they are used to. Schlumberger’s FieldBA is used for back allocation, again with a Sybase front end. Upon project completion, KJO joint venture partner Chevron’s CIO saw this system and acknowledged that it was ‘world class.’ Bahbahani’s aim is to make getting data ‘as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.’ The production-focused EPDM project has a $2.7 million budget with an expected three year payout for its 50 users.


Al-Zayer outlined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) efforts to enhance the transparency of worldwide oil data. OPEC believes that transparency aids market stability, decision making and investment. Today, perhaps $15/barrel of the oil price is due to a lack of market transparency. OPEC now offers oil production data from its opec.org website. A Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI) offers a ‘dialog’ between consumer and producer nations and sets out to ‘calm down the marketplace’. JODI involves OPEC, APEC, Eurostat, IEA, OLADE and UNSD. OPEC has noted some issues with the established oil data vendors, ‘We give out this data for free, so some don’t want us to succeed.’


Evert Ruijs of Shell’s Petroleum Development Oman unit described the increasing complexity of PDO’s operations with a move from the ‘easy’ anticlines in the north of the country to the complex geology. This has brought a greater reliance on infill drilling, water and steam injection and improved information management. But while Shell’s IM investment has brought bandwidth, high end workstations and visualization centers, an information and data management ‘gap’ remains. In a reversal of strategy, PDO is returning to central storage with the recognition that ‘You can’t have data all over the place’. QC procedures and standards assure data flows from one place to another. Today, when data is in DIMS, it is also in OpenWorks and Petrel. Seamless integration and the ability to propagate change are the key. PDO has successfully raised the profile of IM which is no longer an ivory tower, but embedded in the business. Today a job is not considered complete unless data is loaded and signed off. IM, like HSE, ‘needs to be in the hearts and minds of the business.’


Khaled Chiri (Woodside) reported that world-wide knowledge doubles every 5 years. From 2010 it is forecast to double every month. Woodside is aiming for a workplace learning environment where within 6-18 months of hire, workers have picked up the essentials. Communities of practice provide enabling technology and are used to build a knowledge-sharing culture – although an earlier project produced silos of best practices. Woodside has now moved to a cross-company knowledge management system with the process owned by top management. COPs are voluntary – but folks are strongly encouraged to join. Knowledge sharers are rewarded. Woodside has created an ‘ask questions’ culture.

Saudi Aramco

Abdullah Al Shahwan described how Saudi Aramco’s knowledge management (KM) effort is ‘bringing order to the chaos of the info-glut’. KM technologies include content management, search engines, document management systems and collaboration through virtual rooms, communities and forums. Saudi Aramco uses the SAP KM system and collaboration rooms, the eWay web-based knowledge sharing and subscription management. LiveLink, web services and Documentum underpin Aramco’s Technical Information System and Ideas Base. A move to the SAP enterprise portal is planned with single sign on for multiple systems and applications.

Common data model?

A round table on software integration was summarized by Schlumberger’s Victor Lunard. Integration is not a technology issue, even though it is always approached as such! We should look to processes as driving solutions, mapping processes such as prospect generation. Then see what integration is needed to support these. Users should be able to obtain database-independent applications running off a common data model. The common data model is ‘very important’. Industry has attempted this with POSC, PPDM and OpenSpirit. But commercial issues have prevented adoption of a ‘true unique data model’.

This article has been summarized from one of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Reports. More from tw@oilit.com.

Folks, facts and orgs ...

News this month from Sensornet, ER Mapper, Decision Dynamics, MetaCarta, Deloitte, Roxar, Geotrace, ITF, Ionik, Ikon, IHS, Emerson, Siemens, Rose & Associates, Digital Oilfield, Datalog, AspenTech, Hyperion, Aker Kvaerner, Scotia Watrous, BGP, Input-Output, Veritas and WellPoint.

Sensornet has appointed Neale Carter as CEO. Carter was previously was with EasyWell.

Shanmugam Ganeshkumar is to manage ER Mapper’s new office in Singapore.

Colum Bastable has joined the Decision Dynamics board. Bastable is president of Cushman and Wakefield LePage.

Yelimed Calcurian is to manage 4Sight Technologies’s new office in Barcelona, Venezuela.

MetaCarta has appointed Rick Hutton as VP of content services. Hutton was previously with VideoLink.

Anna Kostikova has joined Deloitte’s Moscow team to work on the development of PetroView Russia data.

Roxar has appointed Even Gjesdal as CFO. Gjesdal has been with Roxar for three years prior to which he was with Bjørge ASA.

Gary Matyas is director of Geotrace’s Latin American Operations.

Neil Poxon is MD of the UK’s Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF). Poxon was previously manager of CETCO Oilfield Services.

Ionik Consulting has appointed Mark Linton as global business leader.

Ikon Science has acquired UK-based GeoPressure Technology, developer of the PressureView geopressure package. Ikon has named Martin Bawden as VP sales in the Far East at its new Kuala Lumpur office. Ikon has also appointed David Williams as General Manager of its Houston unit. Bawden was previously with Fugro and Williams CEO of VoxelVision.

IHS has acquired drillstem test data specialists Canadian Hydrodynamics whose data set was built over a 45 year period by founder Nor Hannon.

Emerson Process Management and Siemens Automation and Drives have announced support for the Global Fieldbus standard.

Rose & Associates has appointed Allison Dunn as office manager. Dunn was previously with Burlington Resources.

Cameron Davis is to head up Digital Oilfield’s new London office. Davis was previously with Landmark.

Datalog Technology has sold its Mud Logging unit to Carlyle-Riverstone Funds and Cherington Capital.

AspenTech has been selected to optimize production at PTT E&P’s Bongkot gas field.

Hyperion is to implement the new Operator Training Simulator (OTS) at Saudi Aramco’s Riyadh refinery. The OTS will also be used for process analyses and de-bottlenecking studies.

Martinus Brandal is now president and CEO of Aker Kvaerner. Aker has signed a memorandum of understanding with the engineering and construction arm of China Petrochemical Corporation (SINOPEC) to target Saudi Arabia and other Middle East markets.

Scotia Waterous has named Drew Hickey as MD and Tony Kilcullen as director for its EMEA division. Jinping Cheng is now director for Asia Pacific in Singapore.

Chinese seismic contractor BGP has awarded Input-Output unit Sensor what is claimed as the largest geophone contract ever—for 375,000 geophones. The jugs will be deployed on Saudi Aramco’s Berri Field.

Shaun Graham has been promoted to Manager of Veritas’ Libya office in Tripoli and Don Pham has been promoted to Manager of the company’s Singapore processing center.

WellPoint Systems has appointed Bruce Petrie as CFO. Petrie was previously with Ridgeway Petroleum.


Schlumberger’s Seabed data model has 1,200 tables, not 12,000 as we stated in our May 2006 issue. We misspelled BearingPoint’s Adam Dreiblatt’s name in our interview last month—apologies.

How GIS helps with plant shutdown

Following our piece last month on the use of Tadpole Technology’s i-Plan in management of BP’s refinery shutdown, we received the following letter from Tapole’s Ross Coulman. Ross reviews i-Plan’s ancestry and explains how geographic information systems (GIS) are used in plant overhaul.

i-Plan is a descendent of ICI’s PICs (Planning Information and Control) tool developed in the late 80’s by the Teesside overhauls group. Upon ICI’s withdrawal from the chemical industry in the UK the ex ICI businesses and associated suppliers all took a copy of the application. Over the next 15 years PICs re-emerged in one guise or another with little additional development although Amec moved the application on the most.


I had worked for ICI, then Enron Europe and then SembCorp Utilities post Enron’s demise, mostly on the Wilton Petrochemical facility in the North East. During this time I noted the lack of knowledge retention, particularly with regards to the history of the physical assets, on these sites. I raised my concerns to the board, which led to me spending five years of my time at Wilton developing a GIS—initially as an internal support mechanism to enable the company to gain an understanding of exactly what it had on the 4,000 acre site (2,500 km of high hazard chemical pipelines, 100,000 km of HV Cables etc.).


This lead to the creation of an enterprise level system which brought me into the limelight of Enron in London and the US. Enron’s philosophy was that anything which was bringing efficiency gains internally should be packaged and sold externally. This led to me having my own business unit tasked with selling GIS to other large multinationals like BP and Exxon. Unfortunately, just as things were getting interesting, Enron disappeared overnight! We had already taken PICs and changed its operating platform and added some extra functionality. But it was when BP requested us to raise PICs’ game—making it the central mechanism for site-wide process plant overhaul, that i-Plan was born.


This year i-Plan will be managing the largest overhaul event in BP’s Saltend’s history. You asked what does GIS bring to plant shutdown? The original PICs tool listed every activity required to overhaul a piece of equipment and had the ability to attach a photograph to each item, i-Plan takes this one step further and enables the user to place the item on a map, or if in a more congested plant area, on a P&ID floor plan or GA drawing. Spatially representing every task that is carried out leads to more effective planning, right down to a more economic use of scaffolding etc.

Altor acquires Scandpower Petroleum Technology

Scandpower’s OLGA 2000 technology at heart of Norsk Hydro’s Ormen Lange ‘digital gasfield’.

Scandpower Petroleum Technology (SPT) is changing hands. Current owners, Norwegian fund HitecVision is selling the 70% SPT stake held in its Energivekst unit to Altor, a Swedish fund with around €1.8 billion in capital. SPT’s flagship, OLGA 2000 is used for dynamic flow assurance modeling by major oil, engineering and service companies world wide.


OLGA’s development is guided by joint industry projects with major oil company members. The OLGA Verification and Improvement JIP tests the software and adds enhancements to the tool. Another JIP, the Horizon project is a three year, $7 million project to support production from ‘greater depths, longer flowlines and challenging environments’.

Ormen Lange

OLGA 2000 is a key component the flow assurance system (FAS) of the high tech Norwegian Ormen Lange gas field. The FAS provides a real time online simulation and monitoring environment which will allow flow forecasts to be based on rapid analysis current measurements. SPT CEO Dag Terje Rian said, ‘SPT has established itself as a global provider of software to oil companies. We have a number of growth opportunities that we plan to pursue. Working with Altor and HitecVision will provide the combination of continuity and new thinking that will support us on this journey.’

Roxar reveals 64 bit IRAP benchmark results

Windows 64-bit edition doubles performance over ‘vanilla’ XP but is 13% slower than 64-bit Linux.

Following our short piece on Roxar’s port of IRAP RMS to the Windows XP 64-bit Edition last month, we asked IRAP product manager Dave Hardy for hard numbers on the performance of Roxar’s reservoir modeling flagship on Microsoft’s high end operating system.


Hardy explained, ‘The first benchmark, a straightforward comparison of IRAP 7.5.1 on 32 bit and 64 bit Windows shows a near doubling in performance on the latter platform. The Windows 64 bit benchmark is comparable with the performance on 64 bit Linux, although Linux is still faster in many cases. This is algorithm dependant but is on average, about 15%.’


IRAP user Alexander Doroshenko of Gazprom’s TjumenNIIGiprogaz R&D unit said, ‘Having access to larger amounts of memory is very important for us. RMS 7.5.1 on Windows XP 64-Bit Edition will allow us to build larger and more detailed models faster and easier, with more stability. Windows XP 64-Bit Edition gives us the ability to work in an environment that supports a wide range of general-purpose software.’


Hardy also told Oil IT Journal that earlier benchmarking against IRAP’s main PC based competitor indicated some algorithm speeds in Irap RMS were 15 to 75 times faster.

SpectrumData pilots RFID in oil and gas

Australian oil and gas data specialist to trial Symbol’s RFID technology in asset management.

Australian data management specialist SpectrumData is to pilot radio frequency identity technology (RFID) for off-site oil and gas asset management and storage in a joint venture with Access IM.


SpectrumData CEO Guy Holmes said, ‘RFID is gaining momentum as implementation costs come down. Soon organizations will see increased workforce productivity and reduced operating costs.


The technology fits well with our clients’ operational structures and promises enhanced supply chain logistics and operational efficiency.’ SpectrumData is to leverage Symbol Technologies’ portfolio of ‘enterprise mobility’ products for data capture, RFID and wireless

Tigress 5.0 integrates GeoBrowse

Data loading speed and integration claimed for new release.

The latest release of UK-based Tigress’ eponymous interpretation suite promises a significant speed-up over previous versions. Database and data access routines have been retooled to bring a twofold speed up in log data loading and even more for map data.


The 5.0 release now includes the GeoBrowse desktop GIS and query engine acquired from Integrated Solutions Australasia last year. Other enhancements include a new bubble plot facility displaying sedimentological, petrophysical and production data, new data entry and reporting options for core depth matching and other well correlation, log plot and geophysical enhancements. The PUMA production management package is now more tightly integrated, new ASCII data links to Petrel are available and a new remote support facility has been added.

Cypress E&P deploys Intransa IP-SAN

‘Network-centric’ IP storage solution brings four fold increase in upstream application performance.

Cypress E&P Corp. of Austin, TX has selected a network-centric, IP storage solution from San Jose, CA-located Intransa to improve its geoscience application performance. Cypress experienced a four fold increase in its seismic, geologic, and topographic data last year and wanted a solution that would satisfy its field workers and offices in Houston and Austin. The Intransa storage system gave engineers and drillers in the field seamless access to the geo-data projects and allowed them to collaborate in real time with other team members.


Cypress CIO Eric Bass said, ‘The Intransa system leveraged our existing IP network and gave us the storage performance, accessibility, and scalability we needed to meet our business goals. Now our geo-science team has access to all available data no matter where they are on the network, and as administrator I can easily add, subtract, or reconfigure capacity depending on their needs.’

IP 5500 SAN

Initially, Cypress deployed an Intransa IP5500 SAN with dual storage controllers and five disk enclosures bringing the company’s total storage capacity to 20 TB. Bass was able to set up and configure the network within a day and now uses Intransa’s management solution to centrally monitor the systems and provision capacity as needed. This has now been upgraded to the flagship IP7500 system in anticipation of significant data acquisition in the second half of 2006. The Cypress SAN now consists of a fully redundant ‘no single point of failure’ network rack with four storage controllers and six disk enclosures providing a total of 26.4 TB.


Cypress’ mission-critical applications include Seismic MicroTechnology’s Kingdom Suite, Geographix’ Discover, Hampson-Russell’s HRS, and VisualVoxAT from Geomodeling Corp.; Cypress email, file storage and financial systems also share the hardware.

Statoil invests in downhole fiber-optic sensing

SIOR project shooting for 55% average recovery and 1,200 million barrel hike in reserves.

Statoil is in the process of implementing its ambitious subsea improved oil recovery (SIOR) project which targets an average recovery factor of 55% from subsea-completed fields operated by the group in 2008—a 1,200 million barrels hike in recoverable oil reserves. A significant step towards this goal was the signing this month of a three year technology agreement with Weatherford International for the development of new fiber-optic based sensing and communication systems.


Weatherford VP Dharmesh Mehta said, ‘This project allows Weatherford to further increase its optical sensing portfolio and integrate these sensors into a next-generation subsea communications architecture. Given the projected growth of the subsea segment in our industry, the timing of this project is an important facet of delivering on the digital oilfield vision.’


Rolf Utseth, CTO with Statoil’s SIOR program, said, ‘The goal of the project is to develop smart sensors and subsea communication infrastructure to improve our overall reservoir and production management. This is the latest in a series of collaborative development projects involving Statoil and Weatherford, and will build on the past successes shared by the two companies.’

FMC Kongsberg

The project will provide an integrated fiber-optic communications network from reservoir to the shore, including new downhole optical sensing systems and an integrated fiber-optic subsea communication system. The system will be tested on existing Statoil brown fields as well as new green field assets. Weatherford is working with FMC Kongsberg Subsea and Nexans Norway on the secure, high bandwidth communication infrastructure.

Swift Energy deploys Prima in-house processing

TGS-Imaging’s seismic processing package part of Linux cluster-based turnkey solution.

Houston-based Swift Energy has bought a full-suite, corporate-level license for the Prima seismic processing package from TGS-Nopec’s TGS Imaging unit. The complete software package includes interpretation, standard processing, gather conditioning and advanced AVO analysis and processing modules. The Prima package is a component of a TGS Imaging turnkey seismic processing solution that includes a high capacity Linux cluster.


Scott Scholz, Geophysical Special Projects Coordinator at Swift Energy said, ‘As a long-time user of Prima, it made sense to implement the same advanced data processing technology at our company that TGS uses daily to process their own seismics. Our decision was due largely to Prima’s state of the art algorithms, ease of use and customer support criteria.’


Richard Barren, TGS Imaging Manager Sales & Marketing, added, ‘Swift’s adoption of Prima’s advanced processing technology means that it is now running our top of the range pre-stack migration package in house’. Last year TGS used Prima to perform prestack time and depth migration of its 20,000 square kilometers Gulf of Mexico non exclusive dataset.

Acoustic protection for oil infrastructure

‘Non-lethal’ acoustic warning device offers intrusion protection for remote, unmanned facilities.

San Diego-based American Technology Corp.’s (ATC) Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD), originally developed for the US military, are now available for protection of oil and gas infrastructure. LRAD is a long-range hailing and warning device that is used to warn potential intruders at distances of over 300 meters using only two amps of power.


LRAD can communicate in various languages via a built-in MP3 player and a ‘Phraselator’ translation engine. LRAD can also provide live, continuously recorded video and audio from a remotely controlled ruggedized pan, tilt and zoom camera. ATC reports oil sector LRAD deployment in Nigeria, India and in the Gulf Coast with additional installations expected in these and other oil and gas producing regions.


ATC CEO John Zavoli said, ‘LRAD has applications at land and shore facilities, sea platforms, pipelines and terminals, and on transport and other ships and vehicles in use by the oil and gas industry.


Due to the vast costs associated with repairing intentionally damaged oil and gas infrastructure this is a business area that we believe has significant potential for large orders of manually and remotely-operated LRAD systems.’ LRAD systems have been in use since 2003 by the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines in the Middle East and Iraq.

MIT receives $1 million from DOE for seismic R&D

Analytical technique targets reservoir ‘sweet spots’ with time-lapse vertical seismic profiling.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) approximately $500,000 to develop an analytical technique to better locate and characterize naturally fractured sweet spots and induced fractures in tight gas formations. The research program will apply techniques developed in time-lapse ‘4D’ seismic acquisition to near-well vertical seismic profiling (VSP).


The technique seeks to ‘glean clues’ about the behavior and characteristics of fluids in the reservoir using a new method of analyzing scattered-waves from 4D VSPs. The technique also aims to locate and characterize natural and induced fractures and optimize well placement.


After developing the required processing and interpretation methods, researchers will work with Denver-based EnCana Oil & Gas Inc. to demonstrate these methods in Jonah field in Wyoming. DOE will provide over half of the project’s nearly $1 million total cost. The funding targets what is described as one of America’s major sources of natural gas: low-permeability, tight gas formations. Production of unconventional gas in the United States represents about 40 percent of the Nation’s total gas output in 2004, but could grow to 50 percent by 2030 if advanced technologies are developed and implemented. The project will be managed by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

ModViz leverages NVIDIA Quadro Plex

High-end graphics platform now supports world’s first dedicated visual computing system.

Oakland, CA-based ModViz announced support for NVIDIA’s Quadro Plex in its ‘Virtual Graphics Platform’ (VGP) at the Boston 2006 SIGGRAPH conference this month. ModViz’ VGP farms-out graphic-intensive applications across multiple graphics processing units (GPUs) and multiple CPU cores.

Visual computing system

NVIDIA’s Quadro Plex is described as the world’s first dedicated visual computing system (VCS). The VGPVCS bundle promises 3D visualization users and application developers a ‘robust’ multi-GPU graphics sub-system for high-end graphics performance and maximum 3D data throughput.

No code re-write

ModViz’s VGP optimizes graphics performance and improves 3D data throughput by distributing rendering tasks over multiple GPUs. The OpenGL-based platform delivers supercomputing level visualization of large data sets and multi-GPU scalability. Developers can access the graphics engine without rewriting code.


ModViz CEO Tom Coull said, ‘VGP enables users enjoy the 3D graphics power and resulting benefits of the NVIDIA Quadro Plex VCS with minimal change to their workflow.’ ModViz’s software solutions are used to visualize highly complex or very large 3D data sets, delivering ‘supercomputing-level’ visualization on multi GPU hardware.


The new design promises a 2.4 GigaPixel bandwidth, almost ten times the performance of previous workstations. Last year, (OITJ Vol. 10 N° 11) Shell deployed the VGP accelerate its 3D seismic interpretation application 123DI. Modviz VGP alliance partners in the oil and gas vertical include Earth Decision, Landmark and Paradigm. Other end users include BHP Billiton, ConocoPhillips and Chevron.

PlantData reports on 50 SCADA security audits

SCADA security in the limelight with arrival of US DoE Critical Infrastructure Protection legislation.

Verano unit PlantData Technologies has just reported on some 50 SCADA, EMS, and DCS Security assessments that it has conducted over the past five years. The audits have been conducted in part as a preparation for new US Department of Energy legislation on Critical Infrastructure Protection. The major SCADA security issues uncovered by the study were insufficient network isolation, insecure remote access, a ‘flat’ SCADA IP environment (all in one big subnet), contractor access and a lack of security event monitoring tools.

Industrial Defender

PlantData’s SCADA security assessment and its NERC CIP gap analysis experience combine with Verano’s Industrial Defender SCADA security solution to offer organizations expert advice on NERC CIP compliance and SCADA security mitigation. PlantData has conducted SCADA security assessments for clients including the Department of Energy, Syncrude and Schlumberger. More details of the security breaches found during the PlantData audit in next month’s Oil IT Journal.

ARMA warns of options management software

Audit deficiencies in popular ‘EquityEdge’ package leave loophole for options backdating.

The American Records Management Association (ARMA) reports that audit deficiencies in an options-tracking product, EquityEdge, are at the center of the widening scandal over the backdating of stock options. EquityEdge is used to track stock options granted to executives but its ‘limited’ audit trail capability makes it possible to change option data ‘without leaving a trace’. The ARMA release points out that ‘from a records management perspective, this means that records maintained by the software have no guarantee of integrity’.


Some 31 US companies (none in the oil sector) are currently under investigation for backdating stock options. Others have received subpoenas from the SEC to ensure that records are preserved even though no formal inquiry has been opened. Several executives have resigned or been fired because of issues relating to ‘document integrity’ in the options granting process.


Options backdating highlights the importance of audit trails. Records managers should keep finance and IT aware of audit trails’ value in records integrity and help them ensure that all software has suitable audit trail capabilities. E*Trade, the current owner of EquityEdge, states that version 7.0 (due out later this year) will record changes to individual option data and show which user made the change.

IHS sells iNodes unit to Ferguson Beauregard

IHS Energy’s venture into wireless data ends with sale of monitoring technology to Dover Corp. unit.

IHS has sold its iNodes business to Dover Corp. unit Ferguson Beauregard of Tyler, TX. Ferguson Beauregard manufactures wellhead automation tools, control systems and plunger-lift products. IHS’ venture into data acquisition began in 2004. iNodes, self-contained wireless devices offer ‘affordable automation’ of pressure monitors, flow meters and tank levels.


IHS Bob Stevenson explained, ‘iNodes has delivered affordable automated monitoring for wells that would not previously have been candidates for automation due to the high cost. However, our core competency is delivering information to clients, and not oilfield equipment.’


Ferguson Beauregard president Jack Rogers added, ‘IHS has been an innovator with this technology. Our automation division has the capabilities to expand this offering and take it to the next level. We feel it is a good fit for both the company and our clients.’

Societies cooperate on cross-silo search

AAPG, SPE and SEG kick-off LookUpstream, a multi-discipline technical paper search engine.

The three major upstream professional societies, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and the Societies of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) have combined to offer unified search across their considerable collections of technical papers. The service, LookUpstream, allows for search across all three organizations’ libraries, a total of nearly 100,000 papers.


SPE director Mark Rubin said, ‘This single search location is something that members have asked us for, and we’re pleased to be able to make it a reality.’ LookUpstream is a free search service. Users will continue to link to the individual society websites to purchase the papers identified in the search or obtain them through member or institutional subscriptions. Rick Fritz, executive director of AAPG, added ‘LookUpstream is another of the many ways our three societies are working together to provide enhanced service to the upstream industry.’ Test drive the new search engine on www.lookupstream.org.

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