News from Calgary, PPDM alive and well. (November 1998)

PDM’s editor Neil McNaughton attended theAGM of the Public Petroleum Data Model Association in Calgary Alberta last month and foundan organization in good health if a little strapped for cash.

For those of you who are new to this game, or have short memories I would like to offer a brief recap of the situation regarding ‘standard’ data models for E&P software. There are, as you must know, two competing models. One, Epicentre from the Petrotechnical Open Software Corporation and the other from the Calgary-based Public Petroleum Data Model Association (PPDM). Over the last few years there have been a couple of attempts – initiated by frustrated oil company clients – to knock heads together and have just one E&P data model - most recently last year with the ill-fated project Discovery, but to no avail. During this time, software vendors have had so many mixed messages from their clients – from mandating compliance with one or other of the standards, to total apathy - that they have had a pretty tricky game to play. Past issues of PDM have set out some of the finer points of all this dancing on the head of a needle, right now I just want to focus on the state of play today.


Both the major vendors have staked their marketing effort on compliance with the POSC standard rather than PPDM – in my opinion an almost arbitrary decision based more on the marketeer’s perception than on an underlying technology. But having visited with both POSC and PPDM this year, I can assure you there is neither glee in the POSC camp, nor despondency chez PPDM. In reality, one senses that both POSC and PPDM are having a hard time re-inventing themselves in a world where most companies really no longer have the time to think about – let alone devote real resources to the issue of a standard data model.

Does anyone care anymore?

Meanwhile PPDM is doing all the right things. One committee is looking seriously about compliance, with different medals awarded for compliance at the level of Oracle tables, or through Views. Interest in Object technology, and a future migration to Oracle 8 with object extensions is in the air. Bruce Warnke from Shell Services International gave an upbeat presentation of the merits of the Open Spirit Alliance, and encouraged PPDM to get in on the act with a source and sink development for the PPDM data model. While this suggestion was courteously received, some PPDMers did remark that current Open Spirit implementations were working with around 100 attributes in one subject area, whereas the full PPDM data model has some 1100 attributes in four subject areas. The issue of Open Spirit’s scalability was questioned in this context.

No dough!

Another workgroup examined the issues involved in spatially enabling PPDM, aided and abetted by Geoff Wade from ESRI. And all this activity was against the backdrop of the roll out of yet another version of the data model V3.5. But the real problem – both for POSC and PPDM is the chronic lack of funding that is unlikely to improve in the present economic climate. Acquisitions and mergers are a real doom to the public association as they erode membership and funding. Also, while we have the two main software vendors swearing allegiance with POSC, the main data vendor, IHS has re-affirmed its support for the PPDM data model. IHS’ David Richard reported back from gathering of US and international oil company clients, held after the PI/Petroconsultants merger. IHS’ clients were pleading with them for standardization, with a strong endorsement of the PPDM data model as being ‘tangible’. So we have a rather critical situation on our hands here. Our standards organizations are running out of money and support, while their main clients are still engaged – if not in a data model war, at least in a prolonged skirmish. What is the harassed E&P buyer to advise his or her management in such circumstances? Buy best of breed and plug everything together with Geoshare or Open Spirit? Or go for a single vendor solution – except that no single vendor does both applications and data! Anyone got any good ideas?

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