SEG Calgary 2000

This was not a great SEG. The first day was a public holiday in Alberta, so the Calgary crowd were all out shooting bears, and the conference followed on the heels of the CSEG meeting which explains the relatively low (7000+) attendance. Its also not that long since Houston ‘99, so the marketing highlights are still e-commerce, Application Service Provision and Visualization. Technological trends include 4D/4C seismics and dedicated hardware/software combinations. Innovations include new marine "Q" system from Schlumberger and a 4C digital geophone from Input-Output.

Keynote Bill Barkhouse (Exxon and SEG President) traced the SEG’s history from the first meeting of 30 people in the Houston University Club to today’s 17,500 membership (42% outside the USA). Barkhouse bemoaned the fact that SEG initiatives over the last five years to combine annual meetings with sister societies (SPE and AAPG) have all been declined.


Landmark awarded $13 million worth of software to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). Landmark also announced a new customer support website which will provide clients with example workflows, account information, ‘philosophy’ and ideas. Landmark also boasts a new stand, modeled around a Monopoly board and the latest freebie is a large squeezy red dice! All intended to underscore Landmark’s ‘stochastic’ push into financial and economic software.


GeoQuest’s Application Service Provision (ASP) offering is maturing. ASP is now available out of 10 Data Management Centers throughout the world. The demo kicks off with a smartcard secured log-in to a Java enabled web browser. Tarantelle Enterprise II middleware provides compression of transmitted data and acts as an X-Windows emulator. Note that this flavor of ASP is unlike the ASP as we described in our report on Microsoft Tech Ed 2000. Here the look and feel is entirely that of the original application. The browser is just used to fire up the remote link. This is good news in that no retraining on the user interface is required, and all mouse actions are preserved. But is not so good if you expect your browser to add a homogeneous look and feel to disparate applications.


The log on resumes a previously abandoned session where you left off. Credible performance is obtained over a 128k ISDN line, at least for non graphic intensive apps - the first target for ASP. We asked the thorny question of pricing, but this is "under construction". The technology is up and appears to be running well.


The marketing material announced a new "Global Energy Software Standard". But the reality is more prosaic as Merak’s Val McIntyre explained to PDM. The "global" and "standard" tags, refer to Merak’s market share with 600 client companies including BP, Chevron, Shell and Exxon. Merak’s Peep contains "all" tax régimes and allows capital planning to roll-up across these. Peep is used in "96% of the Canadian industry and over half of the US." Peep software is written as Microsoft COM objects and contains 2 million lines of code. Currently each Merak application has its own data store, but in the longer term these will be integrated. Perhaps significant in this context is the naming of Merak former Houston chief Neil Buckley as president of Open Spirit.

Magic Earth

The marketing push from SGI/Texaco’s start up Magic Earth (ME) continues. ME offered the best breakfast at the show, and made the first page of the Calgary Herald’s business section. In the article, ME’s Mike Zeitlin offered some insight into ME’s business plan saying "We patterned the business out of the dot-coms - [but] we describe ourselves as being ‘beyond dot com’ - we figured out how to be profitable." The system used for the Magic Earth demo is as grandiose as the data on display. The 32 GB (yes that is a "G") of RAM facilitates the roaming and on-the-fly processing of the 9GB of trace data covering some 200 OCS blocks. The software and workflows are improving such that interpretive auto-picking of a GOM base salt event is achieved in a credibly fast manner. Zeitlin invited "our colleagues from Landmark and GeoQuest in the crowd to look closely at the fastest system in the world. We are hiring!" Software under development for auto-picking faults was less impressive, especially as compared with the FPCube technology we saw from Phillips (see page 12 of this issue).

Open Spirit

Just behind a packed Magic Earth was the Open Spirit (OS) booth. A couple of years ago these guys were pulling the crowds, but no longer. Seems like the road from whiz bang to delivery is long, and the crowd’s attention span is short. OS is planning its first commercial release for October 2000. Gocad is the first truly OS compliant application, and GeoQuest will be providing OS-enabled versions of Variance Cube and Cube Math. OS now recognizes the world of the PC, and Halliburton’s WellView will be pluggable to Merak’s Peep, which listens to the OS events via a Java-Com-CORBA bridge from Linar. We watched a credible demo involving a "virtual project" aggregating data resident in both Finder and OpenWorks. A joint venture with Int is producing run-time OS viewers. These will let a user visualize well log curve data in GeoFrame and OpenWorks from a PC. Another significant development is the increasing use of the Event Gateway to listen to events (such as changes in a pick) in different packages, and to broadcast them to other applications.


Schlumberger’s Q-Technology seismic recording system - originally announced for the land environment - is now available for offshore and down hole acquisition. Q can theoretically record up to 80,000 individual point receiver signals, an order of magnitude more than conventional recording. But while capturing all this potential bandwidth to tape is desirable, processing houses are not yet capable of handling such data volumes. While waiting for them to catch up, the answer is to perform digital group forming in the field and the Q-system provides a toolbox of group-forming algorithms which can be tailored to geological conditions, providing sharper f-k discrimination than is possible with conventional analogue summing.


Raytheon is used to dealing with large data volumes and intractable IT problems. For NASA and the FBI Raytheon moves around 1 petabyte of information per year and for the latter, developed "Silent Runner" the software used to hack the hackers - which located the ILOVEYOU virus originator in the Philippines within 24 hours of its appearance. Teaming with The Information Store and erstwhile Halliburton associate EDS, the May 2000 start-up UpstreamInfo (UI) is to deploy all this technology to manage upstream information and data "anytime anyplace" on a pay for use basis and including ASP software and delocalized infrastructure - the "Megacenter". Currently, UI has 10 clients including Pemex and over 3TB of traffic per day at the Megacenter. UI has signed with Magic Earth for management of data for the Visionarium. The browsing and e-commerce software used is Istore’s PetroTrack (also used as a front end to PetroBank by PGS) which assures password control, authentication and manages entitlements. E-commerce is controlled by Raytheon’s Digital Rights Management technology which stops an un-entitled user from downloading viewed data to a local disk. UI president and CEO is George Steel, formerly with SSI.

Internet processing

Dimitri Bevc described a prototype Internet Seismic Processing System (INSP) developed by 3D Geo Development Inc. and Stanford University. A browser-based Java client allows geologists and geophysicists to interact with data in the remote processing center over the net. INSP uses Java, Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) and a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for security and user privileges. Bevc claims the system will empower end users to perform compute intensive tasks such as depth imaging and improve client-processor interaction during conventional processing.


Using SGI’s latest Visual Server technology, you can now use a Sun workstation as a front end to SGI’s Onyx server equipped with InfiniteReality graphics subsystems. The OpenGL Vizserver performs graphics processing on the server and images are compressed and shipped to the client over the network. Users can access volume visualization, gigabyte memory resources and high performance I/O from the desktop. The technology is used by Veritas to distribute interactive visualization throughout the processing house and into client sites. Veritas’ Dan Knupp claims "users can interact with seismic volumes which are up to 200 times larger and 20 times faster than with desktop systems". Other industry users of the Vizserver include Statoil and ASP specialist GeoNet.

Western’s Expeditor

At last year’s SEG we chatted with the Expeditor person, but she turned out to be an out of work actress who had just learned her lines for the show. Pointing us in the direction of two gentlemen selected at random, she made her exit and we learned next to nothing of Western’s foray into heavy duty data management. This year, the actress has gone and there are real data management people staffing the stand. Bill Rimmer and Richard Johnston explained how Expeditor is used for outsourced data management by Western’s clients. (The Expeditor can be installed in house, but would loses the advantages of ASP.) Expeditors are installed in Houston and London and are of course used by Western itself, notably for the brokerage of BP’s GOM data and Phillips Alaska data. There are around a million miles of GOM data in the Houston center. Both centers deploy around 30 STK silos. In Houston there is an additional 3 million cu. ft. of physical storage. Expeditor manages tape library lending functions and talks to Recall, Western’s well log repository. All that is needed on the client station is a web browser. X-emulation software from Citrix makes it all happen. In the context of the new Western Geco restructuring, PDM understands that while Schlumberger’s Finder will stay with GeoQuest, Expeditor is slated to move into the new unit.


Built around the flagship RSO product, IDMA now offers a choice of GIS front end (Finder, ArcView, OpenExplorer) and management of hard copy and digital data types. Hays manages Texaco’s seismic Archive using the software. Other functionality includes integrated vectorizing (with Neuralog), polygonal cut-out of seismic from seismic data library and remote data access of Hays 3494 robotic tape store in Houston.


Strataweb (now acquired by Petroleum Place) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Kelman technologies International (KTI) to work on e-commerce seismic data delivery through the portal. Strataweb’s GIS browser is based on Autodesk’s GIS 2000 technology and can be deployed in-house, to allow viewing of in-house and public domain data. Currently Strataweb is a portal for the (Canadian) Veritas Landbase and well data from QC Data and IPC.

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