SPE - from lasers to knowledge work (October 1999)

PDM attended the Society of Petroleum Engineer’s Annual Conference and Technical Exhibition (ACTE) in Houston this month. We bring you some IT and non IT- related highlights. ( numbers in brackets refer to the SPE paper, available on CD-ROM fromwww.spe.org )


First a fascinating research program underway (56625) at the Gas Research Institute (GRI) applying the swords to ploughshares method to the US Army’s StarWars technology. Tests performed at the Army’s High Energy Laser Systems Research Center, White Sands New Mexico were described by D.G. O’Brien et al. The laser beam drilled at a speed of 450 feet per hour and has the potential to drill 100 times faster than current rotary techniques.


Murchie et al. (56686) described Schlumberger’s TransACT system for global electronic data delivery. TransACT is built around Schlumberger’s intranet ‘SINet’ but can be linked to secure ‘enclaves’ of the public Internet. The idea is to remove the distance factor from the decision making process entirely and to "put the bit on the seismic map" in real-time. TransACT uses a range of standardized data exchange formats such as Picture Description Standard for describing well log images, LAS, and DLIS for well data and the Wellsite Information Transfer Standard (WITS) for real-time drilling data. All these are encapsulated and broadcast across the net using RP66.


A similar theme was the subject of McGinley (56687) of Baker Hughes whose RigLink technology uses Java to let users view real-time data from any location through a browser. Again, WITS is used to communicate between third party applications at the rig, including instrumentation systems such as V-ICICS and Cyberbase. Email alerts can be broadcast if certain drilling criteria are met. Next step is to have a direct data feed from the rig into office models through initiatives such as Statoil’s Data Acquisition Real Time (DART) project.


Acquisitions and Mergers were the subject of a press briefing from industry notables. Richard Bergmark described Corelab’s break from Western Atlas in the 1994 management buyout, and subsequent IPO. Since then Core Laboratories has been acquiring and merging companies almost yearly. The strategy is to acquire technologies (such as Coherence Processing), to grow market share by buying competitors, or to expand into related business areas. Synergies are then built, such as the use of the Stim Gun as a downhole seismic source. Corelab has made 12 acquisitions in 18 months and claims ‘enviable’ earnings and revenue growth.


Dave Wooten told a similar story relating to Halliburton’s recent acquisitiveness. New targets are companies that support the strategic direction and add value beyond the simple addition of revenue streams. Halliburton will invest in long term technology plays. System integration has proved a tough nut and Halliburton is still working to unify IT throughout the corporation.


When Schlumberger acquired Merak, the WellView product was considered surplus to requirements. This has been spun-off into Peloton Computer Enterprises Ltd. Peloton took over product maintenance from Merak, migrated it to the 32 bit world, and added new features. WellView 6.0 is a well information management system for well planning, drilling, completion, testing and workovers.


Applied Terravision Systems Inc. acquired Artesia Data Systems last year, adding financial, land and production capabilities to technically focused ATS. ATS has two new products: Preview, an asset management tool and Interest Well, for well management. Both tools integrate data to improve the decision making process. A GIS capability is provided through Arcview.


M&A activity at IHS Energy has not been without pain, and troubleshooter Mike McCrory has been brought back to help with the transition. Previously with the PI unit, McCrory then went to work with IHS long before the merger, before leaving the group. Mike reports that IHS is making good progress in transitioning to the new realities of the merged landscape.

data integration

IHS has invested heavily in the merge of the PI and Dwights data stores into the PI/Dwights PLUS Internet-enabled repository. Will the PI/Dwights product line merge encompass Petroconsultants’ IRIS21? Pete Stark said that this was unlikely in terms of cost/benefits. Originally designed as the internal data store, IRIS21 is tuned to Petroconsultants’ work-flow. IRIS21 complexity is now hidden by IHS-developed data access layers which are "more easily used and understood by end users".


The fallout of mergers has reached the SPE itself, which is not immune to the forces driving companies and individuals. President Gustavo Inciarte said that the status quo was not good enough and suggested that the SPE might seek closer ties with other organizations such as the AAPG, SEG or the EAGE.

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