Schlumberger Miami Forum 2003

The Schlumberger Information Solutions (SIS) Miami user Forum came hot on the heels of Schlumberger’s divestment of its Sema unit. A hasty re-organization resulted in the arrival of Peter Goode as president of the ‘new’ SIS but generally, the 2003 Forum represents continuity in approach and consolidation in software. That is not to say that there was nothing new. Petrel seems to have found a good home in SIS and continues to make spectacular progress—with seismic interpretation whiz-bang that puts most Unix apps in the shade. The wraps are coming off Schlumberger’s ‘Project Ocean’ a new integration platform, database and suite of applications which are being developed using Microsoft’s .Net environment. We noted a renewed focus on data management—both from SIS speakers and from ExxonMobil’s Steve Comstock in a revealing and outspoken keynote. Philippe Baldy described a less ‘command-and-control’ based data management. But both speakers underscored the considerable, sustained effort required to assure quality data.

Peter Goode—the (very) new boss of the post-Sema divestment Schlumberger Information Solutions is unequivocal—the New SIS is going to ‘revolutionize’ E&P core operations and processes by leveraging Information Technology. This is necessary because of a squeeze from demand-side growth and supply-side constraints such as competition for capital, regulations, demographics, security and transparency. Ihab Toma, now VP of sales and consulting, is ready to fulfill client’s needs in workflow, capital planning and real-time operations. SIS’ IT unit has a revenue forecast of over $900 million for 2003. The restructuring and rebrand of SIS, which began two years ago, is bearing fruit with InfoStream-based workflows, ‘Formula One’ visualization and the Petrel ‘Living Model’.

Drilling ‘blind’

Toma forecasts a huge increase in the number of reservoirs benefiting from numerical simulation thanks to economical, PC-based simulation. A similar opportunity exists in real-time directional drilling—90% of which is still carried-out ‘blind’. Continuing the dynamic theme, Toma underlined the importance of the recent deal with Aspentech and the Living Business Plan which crosses the divide between technology and finance. Toma also unveiled Project Ocean—a brand new integration framework for pretty well all SIS applications which will be a ‘state-of the art’ Microsoft .Net development.


ExxonMobil Upstream Technical Computing VP Steve Comstock’s ‘proposition’ is that standard systems create more enterprise value than multiple systems customized for each asset. By sharing databases, centers of expertise and best practices, Exxon assures transferable learnings and maximum integration. Getting ‘common’ is better than getting ‘best’. ‘We want petrophysicists around the world to use one tool—not ten as before’. ‘Common’ has saved ExxonMobil around $100 million (around 30%) on its annual spend on technology solutions (hardware, software and data management). 50% of this saving has been in the cost of data management. Today ‘G&G folks do G&G—not data management’. But the relationship between SIS and ExxonMobil has not always been a bed of roses. Comstock had kicked-off his address with a heartfelt plea to SIS to ‘fix GeoFrame 4’—a sentiment seemingly shared by other SIS clients. But in his summing-up, Comstock was conciliatory—‘We’ll fix it together!’


Tom Halbouty described Pioneer’s ‘PioneerNet’ Portal as facilitating interaction between a worldwide workforce and as providing efficiency through improved information access. The system is built on DecisionPoint and the Plumtree Portal. Schlumberger was selected because Pioneer ‘did not want to have to educate a general solution provider in upstream domain knowledge’. The portal was developed in three months—covering production, authorization for expenditure (AFE) reporting, application launching and score cards. Challenges included getting users to migrate from email to the portal. Keeping content fresh and complying with records retention policy were also critical.


Carole Tessier provided a close-up of the PioneerNet with data roll-up from Landmark’s TOW/CS, FieldView and Aries. Forecast vs. actual differences are highlighted in a cut down version of Schlumberger’s OilField Manager. Alerts can be emailed to field workers on status change. AFE tracking has brought ‘tears of joy’ to worker’s eyes! Pioneer also uses one of the first components of Schlumberger’s Project Ocean—the Results DB—to track acquisition and divestment opportunities. Tessier announced a new ‘E&P Portal Consortium’—led by Pioneer, Occidental and 8 other companies.


According to Sven Kramer, Shell International E&P Portfolio Manager, attention focused on portfolio management when the 1998 drilling program ‘overspent and under-produced’. A program was initiated to implement ‘cost leadership’ by comparing asset performance. Plots of cumulated project value against cumulative expenditure—the ‘unconstrained creaming curve’—are used to rank opportunities. The analysis showed that some commitment wells can be great ‘destroyers of value’. All Shell units now use the same global standards for data and evaluation. Data is input in standard form to a capital allocation database. Analysis is performed with CapIT—a Shell-tailored edition of Merak. Reporting uses Business Objects. The system is migrating towards the Schlumberger Living Business Plan (LBP) and a central global database.


Philippe Baldy traced Total’s two mega mergers—first with Fina, then with Elf and their impact on data management. Logs were all in LogDB, but with many redundancies. Finder was used for well log reference data. Topographic data was spread over five different systems. A Finder-based navigation/topography fusion project is underway. Moving topography into Finder is a 13 man-year project. Migrating physical asset data another 11 man-years. Total now has around a terabyte of data in LogDB; is this a record? Total found that data matching took around 50% of its data management effort and noted that it is hard to eliminate redundancies completely. Total’s vision is to let subsidiaries have responsibility and management of data. Head office manages ‘orphan’ data, key corporate data and sets standards.

Decision Point

Bill Baski asked ‘why choose SIS’ portal solution Decision Point?’ The answer is because of its E&P-oriented workflows and ‘multiple integrated’ domain databases. SIS has a few ‘competitors’ in upstream portals. There are the ‘big four’ systems integrators (Accenture etc.)—but these ‘lack domain expertise’. So you could try internal development—except ‘you don’t have the head count or best practices’. Baski was dismissive of a hypothetical challenge from ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Java Shoppe’ but more concerned about ‘confusion’—the ‘real obstacle’ to portal deployment.


Nicholas Lillios introduced ProSource as ‘data management for professional data managers’. ProSource offers a single interface to Finder, GeoFrame, OpenWorks, SeisDB, LogDB, GWIS, InfoTrack, SeisManager and AssetDB. ProSource maps and aggregates information and provides QC, charting options, plotting, data loading and transfer. Written in Java, ProSource is platform independent. ProSource allows for browsing and editing of data in sources repositories (i.e. you can change data in say a GeoFrame project from ProSource). A demo showed a rather laborious edit of a checkshot survey bust. ProSource sessions can be ‘unplugged’ for offline work—with edits committed on re-connection. Surprisingly, ProSource does not log/track its edits.


Steve Darnell (Iron Mountain) and Trey Broussard (SIS) described their new corporate partnership which is to combine eSearch V1.0 with AssetDB V3.1 into eSearch V2.0. eSearch will provide physical and electronic document management with full text search. eSearch development will now be done by Iron Mountain in Java, with a Schlumberger-developed E&P data structure. The tool offers profile-based security with Oracle row-level locking, multiple internal and external storage locations and a published API. A ‘Google-like’ search works across all locations.


InfoTrack, the ‘Results Database’ stores project milestones and final interpretations—along with interpretation quality and ‘context’. Results are stored in a ‘vendor-neutral, version-neutral’ format. Other components of the new SIS data architecture are the ProSource front-end (see above) and the Integration Framework—a.k.a. the ‘Federator’. The InfoTrack data transfer module (DTM) applies business rules to ensure consistent transfer with automated post processing and logging. A demo involving a DexaNet connection to Stavanger and Houston involved a lot of waiting around for the network and staring at text boxes. Data management is not yet truly sexy!

RPM AI Well Planner

RPM applies what is best described as artificial intelligence to the well planning process, and is also the first showcase for Schlumberger’s Project Ocean—see above. RPM computes well trajectories from a 3D mechanical earth model. Inputs are pore pressure, fracture gradient and rock strength. The program computes multiple casing design scenarios, cement programs, borehole assemblies, bits etc. RPM is stand-alone currently—next year it will run off a brand new ‘Ocean’ database.


Petrel continues to impress with spectacular new functionality in seismic visualization and 2D/3D interpretation. Fancy grid editing, contouring and scale maps and montage suggest Petrel has made it to mainstream interpretation. New tools for attribute extraction, geobody extraction and connectivity analysis combine into a veritable tour de force.


SIS has been assailed with queries as to the future of Finder. Dwight Smith spelled it out—‘folks should understand that Finder is not going away and is to remain a key element in SIS’ data strategy’. ProSource and DecisionPoint will ultimately replace Finder’s data management tools—with data access going through the Integration layer. SmartMap will be turned off in 2/3 years time but there will be other SDE-based tools. Finder and GeoFrame data models will be harmonized.


3D ‘stand-alone’ visualization remains a hard sell—it’s easier to bundle visualization technology with a product—as in Petrel. SIS’ visualization tactics have been to acquire VoxelVision, to partner with Hue AS (innovative rendering and smooth interaction), OpenInventor and HP/SGI for hardware. Inside Reality offers full immersion and remote collaboration.

This is an edited version of a 10 page, illustrated report from the SIS Miami Forum produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Reporting Service. For info on this service please email

This article originally appeared in Oil IT Journal 2003 Issue # 10.

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