PETEX 2000

PDM reports on the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain’s PETEX conference and exhibition. The trade show has grown to accommodate a record number of new software and service providers. And the old guard is present in renewed strength, with booths worthy of the SEG or AAPG.

The Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain holds its Petex conference and trade show every two years. What used to be a fairly low key affair, is now distinctly more commercial. Of the 2,750 attendees, perhaps only 25% were from oils and in the conference, the vast majority of the 86 papers were from the service sector.


British Geological Survey executive director David Falvey described how North Sea reserve growth from new fields and enhanced reserves has almost equaled production over the last 20 years. All historical forecasts of decline rates have proved pessimistic. Technology has proved capable of renewing resources and, as Falvey says, “there is no reason to think that the science of petroleum geology has reached its intellectual limits.” While research and development finds new oil, old data also holds the secret to many new discoveries. Falvey naturally believes that the BGS-backed UK DEAL initiative will be a key in making legacy data accessible to a wider audience of oil finders. While Falvey is bullish on the question of world-wide hydrocarbon reserves, he considers climate change to be a more serious issue. To remedy this, Falvey recommends storing CO2 underground in aquifers, or in depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs. The underground sequestration of CO2 is already being tested by Statoil. Gas from the Sleipner field has an 8% CO2 content and is re-injected into a shallow reservoir. 200 tonnes of CO2 have been disposed of to date. Flavey believes CO2 sequestration is economic and sustainable.


Andrew Wood – head of global E&P for Shell International – believes that worldwide exploration is far from finished. New technology is opening new frontiers in Russia and in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico – where 40 billion barrels have been found to date, with an estimated 70-100 billion barrels remaining. Technology underpinning these successes includes 3D seismic – a Shell first – and pre-stack depth migration. But not all innovation is so successful.

DHI - it doesn’t work!

Shell studies suggest that seismic direct hydrocarbon indicators make virtually no difference to exploration success. Portfolio optimization can help reduce risk, but “exploration is not a zero risk game.” While eliminating very high risk prospects is wise, the real window of opportunity lies in the 20-40% success range. Lower risks equate to what Wood describes as ‘designer’ wells, where everything is right, but where hydrocarbon volumes tend to be marginal, and where the cost of failure is high because of the over-design of these wells. High level portfolio overview is necessary to balance these different activities.


In a special session on integration, both Landmark and Schlumberger avoided G&G data integration to focus on the broader linkage that they are working on with engineering and the financial side of operations. Both companies encapsulate their message in trendy acronyms – for Landmark the buzz is ‘T2B to the power of E,’ while Schlumberger offer a more prosaic ‘G2E2’ (G&G and engineering and economics). Landmark’s Evans offered one insight “there is no such thing as data management – data is critical to every process.” Schlumberger countered with a report that Shell has decided to “remove the glass wall between reservoir engineering and geoscience.” Cheerfully, the Schlumberger team, quoting an anonymous source proclaimed “software vendors are extinct, only service providers will survive.” John Brookes, retiring head of the DTI’s oil and gas division, believes integration is a bad thing! But no, he is not against data integration. Brookes was tilting Don Quixotically against the windmill of merging oil companies. Mergers mean less clients for the DTI, and subsequent restructuring means the loss of many innovative thinkers.


New companies exhibiting at Petex plan to leverage web technology. is an intermediary offering promotional services to data and software vendors. The company combines a web portal with a presence at a significant number of upstream conferences and exhibitions to promote the e-commerce activity of its members and acts as an advertising medium for its consultant membership. Infrastructure provider UUNET supplies high security web hosting. Managing Director is Jill Lewis, (ex-Troika) and the company has backing from Northern Petroleum. EZServe is a startup planning to offer managed IT infrastructure to the oil and gas sector. EZServe’s John Duffy told PDM that the venture capital funded company is planning two data centers in Houston and London. Technology will be provided by NetApp and Sun Microsystems. EZServe directors include Dick McDaniels (ex Auspex) and Craig Mitchell (ex technical director with News International).


Instant Library (IL) was founded by ex-Britoil chief librarian Diana Edwards. IL manages physical inventory and archives across the organization (not just for oils,) including upstream geotechnical and legal and commercial information. IL now has 165 employees and a $5 million turnover. IL is rolling out a new product, the Electronic Library and Virtual Information Service ELVIS. This is an information portal to corporate and external data sources customized to a corporation’s business. One client is reported to have saved £15,000 on subscriptions through the facility. The reaction of the content providers to such ‘economies’ was not recorded!


Geotech Systems Ltd. (GSL) claims to be the largest E&P application support company in the world. GSL has been in business for 5 years providing “more support than Landmark and GeoQuest combined.” Clients include Shell (EAME), Exxon (UK & US), Lasmo, Texaco and Chevron. Geotech also resells Orbital Software’s Organik knowledge management software.

Gocad V2.0

Release of T-Surf’s Gocad 2000 has slipped and the product, re-baptized Gocad V2.0 will probably roll-out in February 2001. Enhancements include a more rational workflow (improving on what is described as ‘serial manipulation’). New modules include Virtual Reality, Open Spirit access to both OpenWorks and GeoFrame, and new risk analysis and geostatistical options. A Windows NT version of the product will be released with what is claimed as true Windows look-and-feel interface.

Conwy Valley

Petrog is a new tool from Conwy Valley Systems for petrographic data collection. Thin section data analysis is traditionally performed with a laborious manual process involving control box and paper tick sheets. Petrog innovates with grain morphology and rock fabric analysis using on-screen visual comparators. Grain size can be determined from calibrated video imagery, or from eyepiece scale. Petrog juxtaposes the data collection interface with images derived from a microscope-mounted video camera. Selected images can be stored as JPEG files for QA of the analysis. Data is captured to a relational database (Borland Paradox) with a POSC Epicentre-derived data model. Legacy data can be imported and all database reports can be exported to third party packages.


Paul Hovdenak claims Technoguide’s Petrel PC-based earth modeling package is grabbing significant market share. Since release in 1998, Petrel now has over 100 clients, for around 150 seats and up to 200 users world-wide. Petrel is positioned as the ‘Office’ of the geotechnical computing world. Not long ago, high-end graphics programming involved costly hardware and development licenses from companies like Intergraph. Now Petrel claims that one of the most performant graphic workstations on the market is a Compaq PC with a gaming card, the Elsa Erazor. A major new version of Petrel is scheduled for next summer. Hovdenak believes a lot of existing E&P software is “getting old.” Products like Eclipse and CPS are “irretrievably” rooted in 1980’s technology. The move to Windows NT is “inevitable.”

Parallel Geoscience

Dan Herold of Parallel Geoscience (PG) believes that clustered, low-cost computers are breaking the price performance barrier for seismic processing. Currently PG’s processing software runs on the Mac Power PC and Windows NT clusters. Herold has a preference for the Power PC’s 128 bit bandwidth though – ideally suited to compute intensive applications. But PG’s software runs unchanged on clustered PCs. Herold believes that this technology will kill SGI’s processing market. A PG license for 3D costs around $35,000. Add in a cluster of 10 Power PC’s and you have a 30 giga flop super computer for an additional $30-40K.

Attenuation Cube

The Attenuation Cube is new direct hydrocarbon indicator software from Danish developer Odegaard. Input data is a cube of either stacked, or partially gathered 3D seismics. The software is used to validate lithology and fluid prediction derived from AVO. The Attenuation Cube describes the rate of decrease in mean frequency of the seismic signal. The method is said to produce results that are independent of overburden conditions.

Petrosys – V7.7

PetroSys is releasing a new version of its mapping software DBMap, with a more intuitive point and click interface, output to spreadsheet and interactive map queries. Raster overlays can be displayed on maps and made transparent so geo-referenced imagery can be incorporated. DBMap now has an attractive map title generator. Lease data is now time variant – so it is possible to study historical acreage positions. A click on a lease brings up associated documentation. Major PetroSys clients are Woodside, Marathon, Phillips and Anadarko.


Ovation has adapted its I/O library and high performance firmware to the Sony DTF-2 tape subsystem, providing backup to tape is at 24Mbytes/sec over Gigabit Ethernet. A single 200 GB native capacity cartridge costs $200 – offering what is claimed as unparalleled price/performance. Clients include BP Amoco, Veritas, Vastar, Chevron and Conoco.


Neuralog has announced a purpose-built scanner for well logs. The scanner can be stopped and started at any point allowing a part of a log to be captured. On the fly vectorizing is possible with a direct link to OpenWorks or LAS/ASCII output.

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