Knowledge Strategy for Oil and Gas

First Conferences’ Knowledge Strategy in Oil and Gas conference was dual-located in London and Houston. PDM attended the London show and heard how K-management is taking-off, in both service companies and in all sectors of the oil industry.

Elf UK

According to Hugh Tucker, Corporate Strategy Manager for Elf Oil UK, Knowledge Management (KM) is about the “people side” of IT. Raw information needs to be sorted and checked for relevance before it can be understood. Technology is the enabler for more efficient capture and sharing of knowledge, but “people issues” are still a problem. Knowledge is still power, and people are afraid of their ideas being stolen. In Elf Oil UK, KM has been successfully applied to optimizing commodity prices. KM gives constant updates of cost vs. margin and the process can be reversed to select which market to serve. Tucker advocates a K-facilitator – someone not connected to Divisions, an outsider offering an impartial balanced view. Ultimately, a Division [of the company] may need to do something which doesn’t suit its own ends, but is for the “greater good”.

Dog food (again!)

Ron Mobed (GeoQuest) believes that a service provider should use its own KM products internally – in other words should “eat its own dog food”. Schlumberger GeoQuest, with help from the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) has developed the K-Hub which collects dispersed practices from assets and practitioners. These are filtered and validated before integrating the K-Hub. The Hub’s components are Bulletin boards, document management, workflow, data management, expert directories, help desks and FAQs – the whole caboodle! Various initiatives have contributed to Schlumberger’s KM experience. “In Touch” - field personnel were quizzed as to how service could be improved. “Eureka” – to share, not “steal” ideas in geophysics, chemistry, IT etc. Finally, the Coiled Tubing Drilling Library. – a shared initiative with BP – allows for instance a Houston-based drilling engineer to collaborate with a Paris-based expert on fluid flow in a horizontal well.


Total-Fina-Elf’s Bertand Mélèse mused on the advantages to be gained “if Total Fina knew what Total Fina knows.” But according to Mélèse, KM technology is immature IMulti-platform and product search engine technology does not work well - particularly with Lotus Notes databases.

Walk and talk..

AMEC, the construction company has implemented KM successfully according to Chief K-Officer Ruth Mallors. AMEC’s 22 Communities of Practice (COP) have allowed knowledge gained on an Australian offshore production facility to be applied to the UK rail sector - an offshore platform is managed very much like a big railway station. Mallors exhorts senior management to ‘walk and talk KM’, but downplays the IT component. For AMEC simple email is the main tool for discussion, and if needs be the COP can get together for a good old fashioned meeting!


PDM’s best talk (virtual) prize goes to BG Technology (BGT). Martin Vasey and Ken Pratt, describe themselves as “between fluffy consultants and intransigent IT”. Beyond the fluff, the restructured BGT now does the same amount of work with 3 times fewer people in part thanks to the Knowledge and Information for Everyone (KITE) initiative. KITE flies between two intranet hazards:- with too little control, you get non-validated information, with too much control you have no content! BGT believes in the portal. Some 130,000 pages of legacy documentation were scanned, and OCR-ed; “We threw everything in”. Excalibur Retrievalware allows for a single search across everything. Another killer application is Cartia Knowledge Landscape. This intriguing product scans vast document databases and produces contoured maps of textual similarity and is used by BG for competitor analysis.

Key technologies

Other key technologies used by the K-managers include AltaVista Forum and the Mezzanine document management system - both used by Shell Global Solutions International. On the technology frontier, the Imana intelligent web text agent has been used to crawl the web and seek out relevant documents and cookies. Other agent technologies under test are Autonomy and “Taboo” a new Microsoft cross platform search engine.


John Pomeroy (Documentum) reported on BHP’s Liverpool Bay document repository – a wholesale replacement of the engineering DMS with a Documentum-based operations-focused repository. The project involved 20 GB of data representing 100,000 documents (mostly CAD and scanned images). HSE reporting is integrated, with dynamic content generated through bi-directional links to SAP R/3. A straightforward end-user interface allows for CAD drawing visualization with zoom, print and redline markup for hot work permitting. The project’s strong points were the team quality, core product stability and good specifications and tender. Problems arose from underestimating the effort required from BHP. The link to SAP was a “struggle.”

Deboragh Humphreville, (Landmark) coined Yet Another Acronym (YAA – just coined another!) by describing Halliburton and SAIC’s latest alliance as a Knowledge Service Provider (KSP). This offering is scheduled to mature into a brand new e-commerce oil and gas portal, The switch is to be thrown towards te end of the year. More on the First Conferences Knowledge Management Strategy show from

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