Schlumberger 2002 Forum

Schlumberger Information Systems ‘iDiscover’ Forum 2002 held in Madrid was attended by around 350 users and some 200 Schlumberger folks. Some 40 countries were represented by a cross section of domain specialists from G&G, economics, production and IT/networking. The Madrid Forum was an overwhelming experience involving food, flamenco and flow modeling. We report on new developments in Data Streams, GeoTrack and GeoFrame IV - along with client-side tales of deployment and migration, economic modeling and multi-phase flow simulation.

Satish Pai

Satish Pai, who was on the way up from VP of the old GeoQuest unit to head up Schlumberger Oilfield Technologies, gave a bullish keynote on the growth of “i-business” within Schlumberger. With e-commerce projected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2005, and a $750 million deal done on IndigoPool last year, Pai sees this as a evidence that ‘i business has truly arrived.’


Schlumberger recently questioned some 30 major clients throughout the world to discover that security, connectivity and data analysis were key concerns. Companies are also looking at collaborative work and ERP integration along with e-trading and e-commerce. Pai claims that the advent of GeoFrame 4 has drastically reduced interpretation cycle times. Another novelty is that Eclipse now runs on Linux, and the rest of GeoFrame will be ported to Linux “by August 2002.”


Pai stressed the importance of the Schlumberger/Statoil data management alliance. This is revolutionizing the SIS offering in the fields of interpretation results management and web access thanks to the new Federator technology. SIS has been working to quantify the value of data management. In 1996, surveys showed that only 20% of an interpreter’s time was actually spent interpreting. In 2001, this had increased to 50%. Schlumberger’s goal is to go to 85%.

Network Solutions

Schlumberger’s Network Solutions unit is now offering turnkey IT infrastructure deployment incorporating its DeXaBadge security solution. ChevronTexaco and Shell use the system. Schlumberger’s internal ‘internet’ SiNet has been re-baptized DeXaNet and has also been upgraded to offer secure broadband access to ‘frontier’ oil and gas provinces.

The Experts

The ‘Expert Services’ branch leverages this global network infrastructure to enable knowledge management (KM) based decisions making. KM and training initiatives include SEED – donating software and hardware to schools, NeXT – educational joint venture with BP and Heriott Watt and the SIS internal Technology Mastery Program – which tracks training and skill sets of employees.

Killer synergies

Examples of killer synergies include QuickSeis where rapid screening of seismic attributes has been successfully applied to Austin chalk drilling prospects. Inside Reality’s Real Time drilling and well planning is claimed as the ‘first 3D/VR workflow.’ Looking to the future, Pai sees a new technology and service paradigm as oil companies are ‘going digital.’ This will enable information access any time, any place – from field operations to the ‘back office.’ By around 2005, technology will bring field data to external stakeholders through portals and exchanges. The new service paradigm will be built on IT infrastructure, data and applications like SAP and Oracle. Looking at SIS’ own application portfolio, Pai sees a new software architecture built around Open Spirit – a ‘Pack and Go’ real-time cache feeding data to a Shared Earth Model usable by component-based applications. These will run on a range of platforms – from high end visualization – for 3D/VR, through web-based 2D/3D to desktop and the PDA .

Data Streams

Data Management guru Andrei Kalinichev introduced the new concept of the data ‘stream.’ The various data (as opposed to workflow) ‘streams’ bring together (repackage) different bits of GeoQuest technology to provide ‘joined-up’ data management. Data streams current are Well Stream, Seis Stream, Log Stream and Production Stream. All share the same web and security infrastructure. The streams were originally developed for BP – which has handed over the IPR to Schlumberger. When Schlumberger sells a ‘stream’, this will be customized to a client’s workflow – and could even include Landmark technology. Streams are ‘perpendicular to the data integration spectrum.’ The process starts by observing a client’s workflow for a month or so, before developing a stream – a path through client data and workflows. Third parties will likely be involved – Hayes, Kelman, Landmark and Western Geco. ‘It doesn’t matter who you use, SIS will stitch them into your workflow.’


Another client contribution, from Statoil, is a web-enabled interface to data services, along with ‘business objects’ to capture user workflow. Web access to the Federator meta data catalog acts as a front end to the ex-Slegge data store (also known as GeoTrack or just ‘the E&P Data Store’!) which allows for management of interpretation results.

Secure Data Access

Steve Skilitami presented Schlumberger’s answer to the entitlements and access problem inherent in National Data Repositories - Secure Data Access (SDA). Entitlements should be transparent to the user. This requires read/write access at table & row level. SDA is bundled with the January 2002 Finder 9.2 release and leverages Oracle security technology.

BG Petrotech

BG outsourced its’ upstream IT/IM ‘Petrotech’ unit to SAIC and Schlumberger five years ago. Mark Setrem described the challenge set by BG management – to minimize unproductive time spent on data management, to provide ‘in your face’ data and to ‘maximize data value’. BG spends a lot of time moving data through its GeoFrame-based units, keeping data in sync with overseas offices. BG embarked on a review of applications and determined that in the future, data management must support everything. There is to be ‘no more widget writing.’ An evaluation of GeoFrame determined that user buy-in was good - ‘at least as good as Landmark!’ Third party links remained an issue. BG is working with Roxar on the link to IRAP (waiting on an Open Spirit link – hopefully the panacea!). Another problem is that users are reluctant to change workflows and still use ‘Landmark-style’ workflows which don’t fit with GeoQuest products.

Visualization Center

The aim of the BG Visualization Center is to ‘bring the right people together in the right place at the right time.’ Now that Schlumberger has acquired IR, the problem of multiple 3D viewers is very much in evidence. GeoFrame has three different 3D viewers and there are upwards of six others within the GeoQuest product line. This makes it hard for users. The aim is to have one integrated 3D solution, with an ‘Open API’ for third party access.

BP’s E-Learning

Chris Lockyear (BP) outlined BP’s research into new ways of learning - particularly with NeXT online training initiative. The Competency Home Page allows for self assessment and priority setting. The system ‘tells you’ how to achieve improvement and recommends suitable courses. Uptake remains ‘patchy’ with half of the users completing under 25% of the course. 70% completed the study program at home - they felt guilty doing it at work. E-assessment and e-learning have a role to play, but they are ‘not the whole answer.’ One to one conversation and conventional training are essential. Effective use requires setting expectations, providing a work-space and setting aside time for ‘hybrid e plus conventional’ learning during the ‘teachable moment.’

GeoFrame IV in NAM

Shell’s domestic NAM unit specializes in very large projects, with over 1000 wells, 20 seismic grid libraries, which presented a challenging migration task. NAM’s van de Sande stated that the move to GeoFrame IV was driven by its improved integration, especially with Drilling Office, and enhancements such as a ‘true shared database ’ and synthetic seismograms ‘that work’. The GeoFrame 3.8.1 – 4.0 upgrade process was ‘complicated’ and required better Oracle design competency and significant upgrades to hardware. Restoring GeoFrame proved time consuming – between 4 and 24 hours. The size of NAM’s projects stretched the GeoFrame upgrade process to the limit – ‘perhaps we are approaching the limits of the engineering.’

E-field visions

Terje Flaten (Statoil) shared Statoil’s ‘e-field vision’ of intelligent, self-actuated valves and drilling technology aimed at optimizing production. E-field business drivers are lower cost and the ‘skill gap.’ Key e-field processes include real time, right time and on demand data (such as 4D seismics). According to Flaten, ‘The live simulator is on its way.’ 3D has produced a ‘dramatic improvement’ in mapping. Permanent seabed captors have yet to prove their worth. Surface imaging may be lacking but downhole seismic technology ‘never really took off.’ Flaten deprecates modern ‘CAVE’ technology – saying we need a better user interface. While there is a lot of fiber in the North Sea, it is very under utilized. This could be used for visualization. Statoil has combined fiber and hydraulic cables with a high voltage line to the Snohvit gas field to allow for remote, unmanned operations.

Multiphase flow

Gert van Spronsen described Shell’s ‘extensive multiphase experience’ notably on the FLAGS – 450 km 36” pipeline. Van Spronsen claims there is no commercial multi-phase modeling software so Shell developed its own tool ‘TwoPhase’ in-house. TwoPhase has been extensively tested against measurements made on Shell’s Backton (UK) multiphase test loop. In the 1990s, multiphase modeling was considered to be ‘mature,’ but use of TwoPhase was limited to domain specialists. Today this has changed. The in-house algorithms have been moved into DLLs, which are added-in to commercial modeling tools. The DLL contains Shell thermodynamics and the multi-phase routines – programmed in C++. The Shell DLL was incorporated into Baker Jardine’s PipeSim (now part of Schlumberger) allowing Shell to decommission TwoPhase in 2000.

Outsourced development

Schlumberger’s information management focus is on both data access and ‘external and internal integration’. The Finder data footprint is expanding to include production, drilling data and core/sample management. The Hummingbird text search engine has proved functional and fast. Open Spirit remains key technology – third party vendor Infologic has added geochemical analysis to the Open Spirit framework. Portal development with Plumtree is another major focus. SIS increasingly outsources software development to Infosys which has 3000 developers based in India. This relationship is claimed to offer flexibility – if a customer has a problem, a 20-30 people team can be brought to bear on the problem ‘within weeks’.

What’s next ?

The Web Solutions unit is to combine the Digital Workspace, iSuite Applications with iStore Information Management into a new Enterprise Application Framework. This will involve the consolidation of the web interface of Finder, AssetDB, SeisDB and LogDB into the DecisionPoint PetroTechnical Business Framework. A new front end – “iSurf” will offer GIS and data browsing over multiple databases. Web-based data management workflows will underpin data transfer, comparison, editing and loading. A similar geological workflow ‘Sample Streams’ will capture core and cuttings attributes. SmartView, the replacement for GeoQuest’s embedded GIS browsers, will use ArcView 8.2 and allow for full well path labeling, shotpoint annotation, xyz scatter files and the export of ShapeFiles from Finder. Finder 9.3 (due for Aug/Sept 2002) will include the EuroFinder sample/core data model. Finder will migrate to Oracle 9i. A new ‘AssetDB lite’ product will be released to allow for management of physical assets ‘from the file room’ – AssetDB (heavy) is for physical asset management in the warehouse.

This report is abstracted from a 16 page report on the Schlumberger iDiscover 2002 Forum produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Reporting Service. For more details on this service contact .

This article originally appeared in Oil IT Journal 2002 Issue # 5.

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