Book Review—Oil industry E&P data management

Steve Hawtin’s self-published oeuvre advocates a ‘DAMA’ approach. But does it work?

Steve Hawtin’s new book ‘The Management of Oil Industry Exploration and Production Data*’ (MEPD) is a 150 page introduction to what might be qualified as the Dama** approach. An introductory chapter laboriously makes the economic case for managing data. Newcomers to the subject may wonder what the case against could be. Hawtin is a consultant with Schlumberger although this is barely evident in MEPD. There is nothing on interesting topics such as Petrel data management. Applications are pretty well absent from the debate as is any evaluation of commercial tools for data management and quality assurance—not even Finder!

Hawtin writes well and editorializes constantly. Some readers may be nonplussed with lines like ‘most geoscientists do not have training in semiotics.’ But rest assured, MEPD offers not semiotics, but a structured approach to data management leveraging the DAMA ‘body of knowledge’ and other ‘standards’ from worthy organizations like the Project management and Software engineering institutes.

The DAMA approach assumes a well staffed data organization and offers more roles than most E&P shops would tolerate. Hawtin enumerates ‘the most obvious’ ones in a list of 18 roles that include ‘availability manager,’ ‘change manager,’ and so on.

The application of project management and workflow tools such as ITIL, PRINCE and RACI beget more acronyms as in SWARM, ‘stakeholders wakeup, ability, review, measure.’ But as MEPD fails to produce any evidence to the contrary, one has to ask if such approaches tend to create a state of ‘paralysis by analysis.’

All in all MEPD makes for an entertaining read for those familiar with the topic and interested in Hawtin’s views. But MEPD fails as a practical manual by covering too much, too thinly and too idiosyncratically.

* 2013—self-published via Amazon CreateSpace. ISBN 9781481904643.
** Data management association.

This article originally appeared in Oil IT Journal 2013 Issue # 4.

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