Plant Information Management (PIM) Ď99 (December 1999)

Plant-Techís 4th edition of PIM99 Ė the 'First European Plant Information Management Conference' was held last month in the magnificent Kurhaus hotel in the Dutch seaside resort of Scheveningen. Coverage of the engineering and facilities end of oil and gas information technology is a new venture for PDM. One important move afoot is for increasing integration between subsurface, facilities and financial IT. But even without the utopia of IT integration, there a lessons to be learned all round from a look Ďover the fenceí. We bring you an overview of the latest developments in engineering document management and data warehousing. All of which is conducted in the distributed, intercontinental IT environment which a major construction project entails

document management

Unlike the upstream, where real IT-ímení model everything that moves into the database, engineers have adopted a more pragmatic approach combining data modeling with document management. (See this monthís editorial for an expansion of this notion.) The Document Management Systems (DMS) typically deployed in the facilities environment are quite sizable. Tektoniskís DMS deployed on Statoilís $8bn Aasgard development (the most extensive sub-sea project in the world) contains some 50,000 documents covering equipment from over 600 manufacturers. The concomitant 50 fold reduction of documentation is said to lead to major cost savings.


Kvaernerís distributed Documentum-based DMS contains some 7GB of documentation including 500MB of CAD drawings. With owner operators, prime contractors and asset locations frequently spread across several continents, engineers are writing the book when it comes to distributed computing and information sharing. For example, the Kvaerner DMS is accessible from sites in Sweden, The Netherlands and India via KINET claimed as the largest engineering network in the world. Theo Goosens described the lessons learned during this project Ė donít change scope during the project, or underestimate either the bandwidth required or the steepness of the learning curve for new offices using new tools. More from


Jean-Jacques Rey described Telucoís use of Office tools and XML on the TotalFina SINCOR upgrade of the of Venezuelan heavy oil development. Here data and document management are combined by using XML to stage Ďlinkí information from structured data and documents. Information is first collected into Excel which is then "Saved As" XML. The XML source can then be parsed to configure and populate the DMS.

Data Warehousing

The other face of facilities IT is the Ďdata warehouseí. Without dwelling on a definition of what exactly is meant by a data warehouse we offer the following suggestion. A data warehouse is what most people thought that a database was when they paid good money for it. More seriously, a data warehouse is usually a collection of databases linked through metadata to provide data in a form fit for end-use. Statoil is building a data warehouse for the Asgard facilities as part of the Lifecycle Facility Information project destined to "improve decisions and work processes in engineering." The data warehouse includes components built around the evolving POSC/CAESAR Association (PCA) data model. Amecís Peter Mayhew described a similar development for Shell UK. The ĎOpen Re-useable Business Information Step-Structuredí (ORBISS) data warehouse was originally developed as the North Sea Shearwater project data store. Mayhew stated "We like to work Ďthe Amec wayí i.e. we work the way we want to work and use the applications we want to use." In this context Mayhew observed that integration within vendor product Ďsuitesí was at best patchy. Data cleanup has been a major part of the process and Amec, partnering with Quillion (see article on Q-Clean), have developed cycle of gather, clean, map, consolidate, import, structure and manage integrated data.


Daniel Ruiter from engineering contractor Stork described a similar development for Shell on the Dutch onshore gas super-giant Gronigen field. Here a Step-based data warehouse has been deployed in a long-term revamp. Ruiter noted that the data warehouse is only part of the solution Ė equally important are the other integrated components from Notia and Autocad, linked though web-based data sharing. The idea is that documents in one environment hot-link intelligently to relevant information in another through the data warehouse.

SAP deployment

Statoilís ĎBRAí - improved decisions a work process in administration - is built around SAP R/3. Engineers have an propensity for spending money and it is no surprise that the integration of facilities IT with Enterprise Resource Planning and Allocation software is more advanced than in the upstream. Shellís Bert Heikoop described NAMís SAP R/3 implementation codenamed Sharp. NAM is Shell/Esso joint venture running domestic oil and gas production in The Netherlands . Sharp (or òharp Ė with an integral symbol) - stands for the Integration and Harmonization project which kicked-off in September 1996 and has now been successfully completed. Preparatory work included visits to Shell subsidiaries and other American oil and gas companies with similar experience.

big bang

NAM looked at splitting the huge migration project into more manageable chunks, but found that the legacy systems which were to be replaced were so integrated themselves, that only a 'big bang' approach was possible. The scope of the SAP migration included Business Process, Financial, Goods and Services and Human Resources. Sharp includes replaces 65 legacy systems and includes interfaces to a further 31 systems. There are currently over 2000 users and the system offers controlled access to third parties. Now everyone in the company can raise and notify a work order, and follow its execution, billing and settlement. Heikoop insists that "Sharp is not an IT project, through NAM's '2010 Vision' program, the SAP migration is a lever extending asset management throughout the company, and overcoming the problems of people's 'silo' mentality."

data cleansing

Crucial to the project has been a huge data cleansing operation, conducted by domain experts - this cumulated about 40 man-years of effort. The devil in the detail emerged during project design - again people-related - such as the difficulty of business people to adapt and the high workload which fell on a relatively small number of people. Another issue involved arbitrating between the need for managers to have full access while hiding sensitive contract information from others.

new technologies

According to Buddy Cleveland of Bently/Microstation "there are no IT greenfields Ė just brown field sites. It is therefore important that new systems integrate the old Ė which is where the pragmatic solutions of XML development come in. Bentleyís ProjectBank offers persistent storage of engineering data, using multiple XML schemas. For Cleveland, "engineering is no longer Ďcomputer aidedí but IT has made many engineering processes truly Ďcomputer enabledí."


Statoilís Secured Oil Information Link SOIL Architecture was described by Helge Hatlestad. SOIL is a ring-fenced extranet which allows Statoilís partners and contractors to share and distribute information in a secure manner. CEAís Erik van der Laan described distributed data sharing using the internet. This environment assures synchronicity of shared data sharing between the US-based client, European engineering, IT resources in India and the project in China. A data strategy has been developed to overcome the inherent slowness of Internet. All graphical data is stored in one database and only change information transmitted when needed. Tools of the trade for this project are Microsoft Active Server Pages and HTML/XML.

new venture

Coverage of the plant information management scene is a new venture for PDM and we have found it very instructive to see how things are done on the other side of the fence. But we have a lot to learn, and we would like to hear from you. Whether you are in upstream or facilities, let us know what you think of the coverage here, and if you have something to contribute to the debate, let PDM be your soapbox.ź

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