SSC, with current revenues of $300 million and a workforce of 800 IT specialists, was floated off last year from Shell Oil to make its own way as an independent profit center delivering a range of business and technology services to the energy industry. It has now chosen PetroBank to be the key databank component of its next generation E&P data management solutions and services. This has to be good news for IBM. SSC has a natural constituency for its services within Shell affiliate companies in North America and indeed the first data management services for SSC using PetroBank is with Shell Offshore.
2D data set
SSC will be loading Shell Offshore's 2D data set in the first instance, a task expected to take around a year, and the expectation is that it will then move on to the 3D data set. Shell's legacy seismic will be stored on NTP Magstar tape in a combination of on-shelf and robotic storage. The part of the Epicentre data model used will cover header information on post stack seismic. It is planned to move quickly to a more comprehensive system including the management of pre-stack seismic.
For the moment SSC has not taken up wireline log PetroBank option. Remastering of the legacy data to NTP will be performed internally by Shell and not outsourced. Shell believes that its data management standards have been consistently high in the past and that migration should therefore be relatively painless. The current version of PetroBank being employed is V2a with migration to V2b expected in the 4th quarter of this year.
Data management services
In some ways the best part of the deal for IBM is that SSC will become one of its PetroBank resellers in the US. In the first instance SSC will be offering its data management services to companies focussing on the Gulf of Mexico, continental US and some selected international locations. The official line from Scott Reeves, manager of Shell's subsurface IT services, commenting on the IBM deal was 'Our relationship with IBM's worldwide Petroleum Industry Solutions unit will help us provide cost effective data services and products to both our existing Shell partners and our new energy industry customers'.
IBM now has two companies SSC and Petroleum Geo Services (PGS), both based in Houston, marketing data management services and solutions based on PetroBank technology. IBM's John Ughetta, manager responsible for E&P revenue in North America, is un-embarrassed. He says that IBM was extremely selective in its choice of strategic partners and was unlikely to add to the list of resellers in the near future.
IBM itself is also active in the marketplace and is hoping for a successful outcome in Calgary, Canada soon. It is also in talks with a number of majors about their future data management needs.
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