PDM checks out the PowerHouse (May 1999)

GeoQuest’s solution for outsourced data management is the PowerHouse. PDM visited the Houston installation where oil companies store their seismic, log and inventory data. PowerHouse is built around GeoQuest’s Finder together with LogDB, SeisDB and AssetDB.

Mark Cyran, manager of GeoQuest’s PowerHouse data management center in Houston took PDM on a guided tour of the installation. The first thing that strikes the visitor is the security. The installation is housed in a high-rise, and because of the possibility of inclement weather blowing the building’s windows out, the facility is surrounded by a plate glass screen, and "hurricane alley" an empty buffer zone on the outside of the building. User security is pro-active with Smart Card Secure ID, and the autonomous backup power will keep the facility running for a week. Access to the facility goes through the OMNES Firewall, never through the public Internet.

data BANK-ing

The idea behind the Powerhouse is very simple. You don’t keep your cash under your bed do you? So why keep your data in-house? GeoQuest plan to look after a corporation’s data just as Bank America across the road looks after their financial assets. Customer logs are QC’d before storage according to ISO 9000 approved procedures. This allows for editing of UWI and header data for consistency. Only raw data is stored on the system, which forms part of an extended chain of data management services including management of legacy inventory to long-term storage or destruction if required.


Using this complex system necessitates intensive training. The basic course for a Powerhouse operator lasts 16 weeks. Guardian Data is the partner for the seismic transcription service. Seismics are QC’d and transcribed to High Density Media and encapsulated using the SEG’s RODE technique.

Field data is stored on shelves, while ‘project ready‘ SEG-Y stacked data is stored on GECO’s D2 Robotics. This allows a one day turnaround for de-encapsulating the RODE tapes to workstation formats (GeoQuest or Landmark) for an ‘average’ 3-10 GB 3D project.


Just to make sure the system is as secure as they think it is, GeoQuest have commissioned PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to perform regular penetration surveys. The PwC hackers have not yet managed to get close!

proprietary data

In line with the outsourced philosophy, the PowerHouse allows clients to integrate data from proprietary sources such as PI/Dwights (IHS Energy), Tobin and QC Data, at the same time incorporating existing corporate library data.


The load on the system is light as yet. Indeed, Cyran looked embarrassed as we surveyed a largely empty room. This, he explained was mainly due to the shrinking size of the hardware. Currently the system boasts around 1 TB of on-line data, with another 3 TB near-line.

More clients

The current customer base includes Pennzoil, Coastal and Burlington. The year-end downturn in the industry did force some customers to reflect on the potential of outsourced data management, and Cyran is expecting to sign up another three PowerHousers shortly. Cyran claims that the main competitor for the Powerhouse is ‘the status quo‘.

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