AAPG 2003 Salt Lake City

The current political situation and SARS contributed to a low turn-out of around 5000 at the 2003 AAPG. We report from an interesting session on technology and trends in E&P and a lackluster session on visualization. On the exhibition floor we noted significant developments from VizEverywhere, SMT, Teleportec and Fusion Geo/Starbridge. The appearance of new seismic technology at the AAPG reflects the ongoing blurring of the boundary between geophysics and geology. This is backed up by a continuing growth in the amount of geophysics applied to geology. Today, you are as likely to have an AAPG exhibitor talk of the latest wavelet processing or spectral deconvolution as about core analysis. But leaving geophysicists out of the loop may let in the snake oil brigade.

Shell’s John Darley’s thesis is that technology is key for developing the 40-50 million barrels per day production which will be required around 2020. Renewables will only ‘get serious’ around 2050. Shell believes it gains competitive advantage from its in-house developed software packages. Darley also reports ‘dramatic take-up’ for mono-bore drilling.

Abd Allah Al-Saif described Saudi Aramco’s in-house developed software which includes a new seismic trace sort algorithm, fuzzy logic for deep gas well placement, DETECT (Aramco’s coherency package) and fractal deconvolution. Aramco has built a 27 million cell model over the Gahwar field which is simulated using Aramco’s ‘massively parallel’ POWERS simulator—a run takes 16 hours on a 4CPU PC cluster (10 million cells, 61 year history and 3400 wells). For Al-Saif, R&D collaboration between oils, service companies and academia is the way to go.

Kurt Rudolf reported that ExxonMobil has 100TB of online data – half is ‘non seismic’ and represents the most rapidly growing segment. Rudolf advocates ‘collective enquiry’ by bringing people together in a 3D visualization and real time decision support environment. A movie of the geological evolution of the South Atlantic showed ExxonMobil’s technology in action with animation of 100 million years of geologic history. Other focal points for ExxonMobil’s technology include ‘hidden play’ challenges—such as those obscured by shallow gas or salt overhang and lowside fault plays. For Rudolf, 4D seismic reality has finally ‘caught up with the hype’! In the right settings, 4D can provide insights to the reservoir manager, which are not accessible from other direct forms of surveillance. Exploitation geochemistry and other techniques provide a ‘holistic understanding’ of the reservoir and its geological context. The future will see continuous monitoring of the reservoir with micro sensors, borehole instrumentation, micro gravity, passive and 4D seismics.

ChevronTexaco’s Bob Laing observes that oil and gas technology has some awkward aspects—it involves the management of a long and complex value chain. Moreover petroleum R&D offers little to other industries. ‘Horizontal wells are not movies or medical’. Customers are just not prepared to overpay oil R&D—it is ‘cost plus’ rather than ‘added value’—unlike, for instance the IT business. The last 15 years have seen a decline in proprietary R&D but this has been replaced with ‘leveraged R&D’. CTx seeks to build ‘fundamental platforms’ – such as GoCad. Laing believes ‘next generation’ technology will likely come out of large scale integration and the new simulator under development with Schlumberger.


VizEverywhere is an ‘entry level’ visionarium described as the ‘affordable large screen visualization solution for the oil and gas industry. VizEverywhere throws an SXGA (1280x1024) image onto a wide screen. Twin ‘matched’ projectors offer stereo with passive polarized specs. A complete system comes in a ‘under $100,000’.


Tricon is planning to port its ‘Tsunami Suite’ pre-stack depth migration (PSDM) package to Starbridge’s field programmable gate array (FPGA)-based supercomputer. Starbridge anticipates 100 fold speed up over conventional microprocessor-based machines.


Not geological and not very new but Teleportec’s teleconferencing system was an eye catcher on the AAPG’s stand. Teleportec offers a fairly lifelike image with a lot of ‘presence’. The remote speaker can locate and engage people in the local environment with eye contact. The eyes really do ‘follow you around the room!’


SMT has introduced digital ‘Post-It!’ notes into its Kingdom Suite interpretation package. PakNotes allow for comments and Windows documents to be attached to an interpretation object (seismic horizon, fault, well etc.). The PakNotes are stored along with the business object – and are accessible from other components of Kingdom Suite. PakNotes is the brainchild of SMT president Tom Smith. Smith believes that Windows-based document formats are likely to outlive most other ‘standards’ and that saving documents in their native Windows formats is ‘most likely to preserve information assets over time’.


Gravitas bundles HRH’s geological log drafting and visualization software—Winlog 5 for drafting, RepGen for daily reporting and the Windart real time data link. Gravitas development was sponsored by Total and was redesigned to collect together the company’s best practices. Windart leverages the WITS acquisition standard to collect real time data feeds.


Schlumberger’s new Fault Surface tool is due for release at the Stavanger EAGE. Part of GeoFrame IV, Fault Surface automates fault picking in 3D seismic – à la Coherence Cube. It does a good job!


Trivision has released PowerCore—a new component of its PowerSuite. PowerCore lets geologists capture all information relating to the coring process and present it in a WYSIWIG printable format. PowerCore includes multi-track plotting for grain size, sedimentary structures, trace fossils and more.


Decision management software (DMS), a new component of Landmark’s Decision Space suite, promises an integrated framework for risk-based decision support. A change in one parameter—such as the depth of an oil water contact—ripples through the system to ensure updated information in all modules. Different risk constituents can be visualized with tornado plots. DMS originated as one of BP’s ‘nuggets’—key in-house developed software components.


A2D’s Log line now offers web services based remote calls from Landmark’s OpenWorks. The system offers GIS spatial data selection and data publishing to an internal PetroWeb intranet. Both Dot Net and Java client APIs are available and support business objects including well header, log attributes and e-commerce. Landmark showed how A2D data can be accessed from its Power Explorer desktop (developed from PetroBank Surf &Connect web edition and Landmark’s Open Explorer).


Corelab’s Reservoir Information Browser (RIB) offers clients a secure, password-protected website with clients real-time access to data through an ASP browser. RIB offers management of rock samples, fluids, thin sections and clients can add their own stuff including office documents, jpegs and ‘clickable LAS’ logs for core description pop-ups.

Austin Geomodeling

AGM has used SGI’s Volumizer (à la Magic Earth) to develop new 3D seismic display functionality for its Recon interpretation environment. Recon now integrates 3-D views of well log and seismic data with basemap and 2-D cross-section interpretation views and runs on SGI Onyx 2. AGM is working towards 200GB data volumes (next summer) allowing for ‘interpretation of the entire basin’.


Terrasciences new dipmeter module supports all dipmeter and imaging tools and loads LIS, DLIS and other formats from 4 and 6 arm tools. Output can be made to CGM, Postscript and other graphical formats. An OpenSpirit link is under development and the software is now available through the Petris Winds ASP hosting service. A new sonic waveform module loads LIS and DLIS data and displays as wiggle or variable density. A variety of views of receiver data and computed slowness displays are available and synthetic seismograms and rock strength calculations performed.

Open Spirit

Open Spirit Release 2.5 will be out in July. A pre-release was on demonstration and is said to be ‘100 times faster’ thanks to a new ‘query by attribute’ function. The new release includes a data server for GoCad Voxets and 2D/3D SEG-Y data management. A data selector with a project copy/sync utility, Excel adaptor and Arcview based GIS search will also be introduced. The new SEG Y Module includes a novel file-based storage data structure. A line is stored as a set of files – header, trace metadata, stack, wavelet and data etc.—all kept neatly in the same folder. Open Spirit is showing credible take-up with software vendors.


IES’s new PetroRisk provides a risk management framework around IES products. PetroRisk assigns Bayesian probability distributions using Monte Carlo or ‘Latin Hypercube’. Risk is evaluated at all stages in the workflow from generation, maturation, migration, fill and spill.


NDS Pro bundles all Neuralog products ‘from scan to capture’. Neuralog supports World TIF format (WTF), Petra, Petris, ArcView—and is testing with GeoGraphix and SMT. Neuralog now also displays raster images along deviated well paths.


InfoPipe’s OwnerImage Builder takes input from sources including broker spreadsheets, Bureau of Land Management data and other land record systems. Land information is consolidated and can be output in Geoplus’ Petra, MapInfo, ESRI, AutoCAD and Geographix formats. OwnerImage Builder makes land management data accessible to workers in other divisions—notably exploration.

Rose Associates

Rose Associates’ Performance Tracking Data Base is designed to ‘eliminate bias’ in portfolio analysis by allowing the comparison of current opportunities with corporate ‘memory’. Data is captured from Rose’s multi-mode risk analysis spreadsheets into a Sequel Server database. Various plots of actual results vs. predicted estimates can be made. Rose’s software leverages the Crystal Ball Excel add-in from Decisioneering, Inc.


EP-Tech is a Chinese-US joint venture specialized in extracting information about reservoir fracturing from seismic data. EP-Tech spectral imaging highlights channels and other sedimentary features using wavelet-based image processing.

This article has been abstracted from a 20 page illustrated report produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Reporting Service. For more information on The Data Room’s reports and to request a sample copy please email tw@oilit.com.

This article originally appeared in Oil IT Journal 2003 Issue # 5.

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