Petrovision chosen as core of Elf's E&P technical data management system (October 1996)

Elf have awarded the Archidex data management project to CGG-Petrosystems. Archidex involves the remastering to RODE encapsulated Magstar robotics of around 650 thousand legacy seismic tapes plus ancillary data.

Following an industry-wide call for tender Elf Aquitaine Production signed an agreement with CGG in September for the renovation of its seismic archives in the Exploration and Production division, based in Pau (France). This will involve the implementation of the PetroVision line of services and products developed by CGG-PECC. The aim of the resulting project, known as Archidex, is threefold: conserve the data free from all forms of physical deterioration, make it easily accessible to end-users and reduce the cost of media storage. CGG will simultaneously carry out data capture operations (both tapes and all associated documents) and implement PetroVision, a "POSC-based" data bank coupled with a mass storage system using IBM 3590 (a.k.a. Magstar/NTP) technology.

PECC subsidiary

This allows for the storage of around 10GB of data onto a single cartridge. CGG's experience in this area, which is chiefly due to its 51% owned subsidiary, PECC, will be used to recover a stock of some 650 000 seismic data tapes (7 track, 4 x 9 track, 21 track, 9 track and 3480) which contain mainly field data. At the same time some 1.2 million sheets of paper documents relating to the magnetic media (observer reports and associated documentation) will be scanned to bitmap. This existing stock which corresponds to over 30 years of acquisition in all the regions of the globe, will be updated in 1997 with around 100 000 forecast magnetic media, (widespread use of new high density media by acquisition contractors should reduce this figure in future) and their associated documents (paper or floppy disk), making Archidex one of the largest transcription-compaction projects in the world.


At the other end of this capture process, the seismic data will be encapsulated using the PECC's RODE format and stored on 3590 cartridges. RODE (Record Oriented Data Encapsulation) is based on the API's RP66 data format, in turn derived from Schlumberger's DLIS tape format. It is expected that the RODE standard will be approved by the SEG as an archive format later this year. These operations will be carried out using software developed jointly by CGG-PECC (MediaManager, RAM, IDS) connected to specific hardware devices. PetroVision will be used to handle the data and integrated into the Exploration and Production technical data management system. The PetroVision data base, which is "built on" the Epicentre model, will be used in the Archidex project to store all the pre and post-stack seismic. In the initial stage, it will be implemented as a corporate data store in Pau and subsequently at other sites around the world, inter-linked via a network. The PetroVision application modules will be located in various EAP operational sites and as such will allow geophysicists specializing in interpretation and processing (the "Archinauts") to surf on the EAP network and directly access the information they require, simply by selecting it on a map, visualize the various elements to validate their choice (thus creating a shopping list) and have them delivered in a standard format so that they can be used with their own specialized software.


PetroVision was originally developed jointly by CGG/Petrosystems and PECC to cater for Algerian State oil company Sonatrach's data management needs under a $16.5 million project financed by the World Bank. The Sonatrach Petroleum Data Bank Project was implemented on a Convex C3420 with digital data stored near line on a 5.6 terabyte D2 Emass Data Tower. The Sonatrach project incorporated over 100,000 seismic and well log tapes and over 200,000 paper items. These are scanned to bitmap and indexed, and where appropriate, vectorized. The Sonatrach project has been implemented in a politically hostile climate. Currently, the central server and workstations have been installed in Sonatrach's Data Control Building located in Bourmedes, a suburb of Algiers, and data is being remastered, catalogued and loaded.


PetroVision is said to be POSC compliant, but as always this can mean many things. Raw data is to be stored in native formats using RODE encapsulation, neither of which form part of the POSC specification. Our understanding of PetroVision functionality is that the POSC "compliant" part is the inventory database which is developed on the relational projection of Epicentre. PetroVision "sees" bulk data as electronic documents on the file system rather than Epicentre's frames within Oracle blobs (binary large objects). This not so much a compromise with the Epicentre data model but more a recognition of the facts that a) frame data in an Oracle blob is no guarantee of interoperability, b) queries of this data type are not generally required and c) data access is much more performant for file/system data.

Integral Plus

But this field of POSC compliance may be extended by ELF, which, as one of the 7-sister POSC sponsor companies is strongly committed to promoting POSC technology. Otherwise PetroVision utilizes the Integral Plus data model for back-populating interpretations. Given the French connection, PetroVision is closely coupled with Integral Plus, which was a joint CGG, Total and Elf development carried out during the 80's. Integral Plus is an integrated workstation suite of applications covering the whole spectrum of E&P activity. This is a fascinating project, and differs from other data banking projects through the incorporation of near-line access to field data. If field data is to be called up via remote terminals as suggested in CGG/PetroSystems press release, then this may make some quite staggering demands on networks and will at least provide a lot of work for the French cable companies! A foretaste of CDA phase III (see inside this issue).

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