Landmark's Worldwide Forum (March 1998)

PDM was invited to attend Landmark GraphicsCorporation's Worldwide Technology Forum - we bring you some highlights.

While the virtual presence of Bill Gates stole the show, there was much more substance on the exhibition floor and in the eight simultaneous conference rooms. Bob Peebler remarked on the conference attendance which was up from 250 a mere 5 years ago to its present level of around 1200. John Gibson gave an upbeat analysis of future oil supply and demand which should lead to a 3 mmbbl/day shortfall - real soon now! In the first of several video presentations from a variety of oil industry worthies, George Boykin (Amoco) underlined the need for faster decision making with multiple working hypotheses. Boykin described some current working practices as being "between analysis and paralysis" leading sometimes to "gung-ho no-data decisions". Boykin described the Oilfield Lifecycle System (OLS) as having simple but inherently non-linear rules and asked "Should we re-engineer the technological OLS to match business processes, or adapt our business processes to the OLS? Landmark are going for the latter.

Open Explorer

The Halliburton take-over of Landmark provided funding for this major development of an "integrated data management solution". The basic idea is to be able to seamlessly exploit data at corporate, regional and project level. The current flavor of Open Explorer (OE) largely reflects customization performed for Enterprise Oil UK who were closely involved in its specification and development. Enterprise's history of involvement in data modeling was described in a paper by Tim Bird. In the 1980's, Enterprise built their own database - the EOCENE system for handling well header data. In the early '90s the Tigress system was deployed, but "did not thrive". Latterly, Open Explorer was developed as a component of the multimillion dollar alliance described in PDM Vol. 2 N 2 between Enterprise and Landmark. The main component - at least the most costly part of Enterprise's move to a common data base solution - was neither hardware nor software, but the intense quality assurance that was necessary to migrate the data into the new data store. Bird bemoaned the fact that commercial solutions tend to overlook this part of the equation.

Query builder

OE now incorporates a "GeoQuery Builder", an SQL-like query language "for geologists". You can use this to select objects and then send them over to ArcView as a Theme. Then ArcView Spatial Queries can be run using the selected objects to locate proximal leases or wells with same type of characteristics. Then data can be pushed back into OE, Open Works, or wherever you need to interpret it. The native ArcView buffering feature is also of potential use in locating objects with a predetermined attribute which are within a set distance of a polygonal feature. Thus you could select all the wells reaching a certain producing horizon, within a given distance of a pipeline. Other uses of OE benefit similarly from the generic horizontal software that is ArcView. Just as ESRI's Spatial Analyst is used to locate new supermarkets by spatial data mining, OE will enable such techniques to find oil and gas by using for instance, grid arithmetic on ZMap data.

Direct Access

A noteworthy difference between Open Explorer and GeoQuest's Finder is the way the data in the underlying Oracle database is accessed by the end user. Finder allows direct SQL access to the data - effectively allowing any user-defined query to be run. Open Explorer protects the user from SQL through the GeoQuery builder. There are merits and disadvantages to both approaches. GeoQuest offers flexibility at the expense of an overhead of complexity and potential future maintenance issues. Open Explorer limits the type of query that can be run in the database, but should be more stable through version changes. You pays your money and takes your choice.

Document Management

Another industry alliance - this time with Unocal - was behind the development of another add on to Open Explorer. This is a Meta Data Document Management system. This allows any document - such as a Word text document - to be attached to any database entity. As Landmark's John Sherman says, "You can toss information at a project". This development is part of a wider project attempting to capture knowledge in the enterprise. Links to paper documents and other inventory are being developed by integrating Hays RSO with Open Explorer. A Windows version of Open Explorer should be available by the time you read this.

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