EAGE 2001

The annual conference and exhibition of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) was held in Amsterdam last month. The show was better attended than some of the more exotic locations of recent years, but comments from many exhibitors suggest that the EAGE could be better value for money. PDM concurs in this as the EAGE is the only show which makes us pay to get in! Bitching apart, we are pleased to give a wider audience to software exhibitors and report here on new developments in virtual reality, haptic devices and geostatistics. On the hardware front, the new 9.2 megapixel ‘QUXGAW’ display from IBM was spectacularly noteworthy.

TotalFinaElf (TFE) E&P president, Jean-Luc Vermeulen, in a keynote address gave examples of how technology was enabling an aggressive drilling program on the $4 billion Venezuelan Sincor heavy crude project. TFE is currently drilling some 1500 horizontal wells, each with over 1000m of horizontal section. This activity is supported by high tech integration of measurement while drilling (MWD) data from the field into the reservoir model via a satellite link*.


Ed de Mulder (no, Sculley couldn’t make it) of the Netherlands Institute of Applied Geophysics - TNO made a valiant attempt to place oil and gas exploration and production in the context of sustainable development. He pointed out that “a lot has changed for the better in exploitation over the past two decades.” For example deep seismic is now achieved in urban areas with little or no impact, and waste from drilling activity is now properly contained and disposed of. Mulder exhorts the geoscience community to communicate more, with for instance, public websites monitoring the environmental impact of oil production. By 2050 everyone will know more about Planet Earth, in part thanks to public databases like TNO’s DINO.

Inside Earth

Inside Earth from Norwegian startup Inside Reality (IR) is set to offer Magic Earth competition in high-end virtual reality-based interpretation. Norsk Hydro has 4 IR installations where geologists, reservoir engineers and geophysicists collaborate. IR’s differentiator is the use of head-tracking to ‘fly’ through the data set. As the operator squats down to look under the reservoir - the display adapts accordingly. The operator is ‘really present in the data world.’ The view of the 3 D data set is different to Magic Earth, with more reliance on section views than ME’s 3D ‘cursors.’ But the Cave also offers an arbitrarily-oriented cube - whose transparency can be altered - an impressive facility which lets the operator fly through transparent data and only ‘see’ high amplitudes. Region-growing is also available - both as a ‘surface grower’ and as a ‘volume grower.’ Hydro’s Oseberg asset team uses the software ‘daily’ to plan horizontal wells.

Write On

GeoQuest’s WriteOn provides PowerPoint-like (or perhaps that should be Open Journal-like?) functionality to users of GeoFrame (3.8.1 up). An interpreter can capture data from Charisma into an XML data store. Norsk Hydro wanted the ability to draft sequence boundaries and facies - they decided this could best be done with a graphical layer. Text and even speech annotations can be added. Hydro interpretation advisor Paul Spencer said, “WriteOn is an effective media for communicating exploration concepts graphically within Charisma. The ability to turn-off and switch between layers allows several ‘storyboards’ to be constructed as the interpreter gets his message across during a meeting. The integration of URL facilities allows immediate access to online reports, graphics, well summaries and external journals, thus increasing the content and impact of any presentation or technical work meeting”.


Novint is a spin-off from Sensable Technogies which develops oil and gas interpretation interfaces between Sensable’s haptic interface and interpretation software. The idea is to be able to feel rock properties such as acoustic impedance, with the haptic device - aiding the 3D pointing and selection process. Novint’s VoxelNotePad (VNP) makes it possible to work in 3D with 3D data, by adding haptic feedback and providing real time, 3D interaction to existing visualization techniques. Novint is developing VNP to enable geoscientists to ‘touch and view their data in 3D and in real time.’ A VoxelGeo interface was developed for Mobil and GoCad interface for Chevron. Aramco has also experimented with the software and even tried sonification - letting the interpreter listen to seismics.

Interpretation Workflow

TotalFinaElf’s Vivien de Feraudy presented a detailed workflow for the deep offshore combining structural modeling with geostatistics. The case history involved an unnamed Upper Miocene turbidite field offshore West Africa. Tools used included commercial applications and in-house developed software. The theme of the presentation was how uncertainty was propagated through the modeling workflow. Initial modeling was performed in GoCad - with time to depth conversion a major source of uncertainty. TFE’s ALEA package was used to generate 300 ‘uncertainty maps’ of rock volume above the oil water contact.


Many showed a saddle, cutting the pool into two parts - a ‘surprise.’ Sedimentological modeling followed, with a probabilistic association of net to gross with architectural elements. The results were gridded in a 270,000 cell model - of which 50,000 cells were active in the simulator. T-Surf’s Jacta was used to generate 300 simulations which were populated with facies, net to gross, water saturation and permeability. Oil in place was computed for all 300 simulations - and realizations selected for export to the flow simulator. Geometry proved the main uncertainty. Probabilistic production profiles, showing a range of profiles from ‘catastrophe’ to ‘jackpot,’ were used to right-size the surface facilities.

9 megapixel display

IBM has released a 22" diagonal super high resolution (9.2 million pixels, 3480 x 2400) flat panel display, intended to replace twin-screen setups as used in seismic interpretation. The sexily-named “QUXGAW” display was driven by four Matrox G200 cards, but performance was abysmal! IBM was waiting for the arrival of Wildcat 5110 cards, which are expected to change this. The display is so crisp that you may need to change your specs to get the full benefit.

ISA GeoBrowse

ISA GeoBrowse is a GIS-based data browser offering an attractive Microsoft Windows-based front end to data in OpenWorks, Finder, GeoFrame, dbMap and IHS databases. Data can also be imported from SDE, AutoCad ESRI Shape files and bitmaps. The latest release, GeoBrowse 2.3 offers one-click macro icons, advanced forms filtering, and display of well directional surveys and project. Apache has used the software in its NW Australia exploration effort. ISA claims one North American client. More from www.isa-web.com.


ECL’s Vega provides planning and QC of land and shallow marine 3D surveys. The Windows application contains tools for mapping, and editing SPS formatted positioning data. Vega also provides 3D binning coverage analysis and display tools and an SPS data and format checker.


Geovariances has launched a new package “Isatoil” for constructing stacked sequence reservoir models. Isatoil integrates deviated wells, seismic layers and faults into the geostatistical model and also offers several geostatistical time-depth conversion methods. Volumetric calculations are performed with stochastic simulations and process control is assured through visualization of a base case. ISATIS has sold over 600 licenses of its generic geostatistical modeling package to companies such as Shell, Statoil and TotalFinaElf.

Open Spirit

Open Spirit CTO Clay Harter gave PDM an update on the E&P middleware platform’s progress. Open Spirit has around 10 corporate sales including Chevron, Shell, AGIP and TotalFinaElf. The following software runs on the platform, T-Surf’s GoCad, GeoQuest’s Variance Cube, and Anadrill’s Interactive Web Witness (measurement while drilling). Continuum Technology offers Open Spirit data access while Chroma Energy (a new technology offshoot from Arco) has Open Spirit-compliant seismic attribute extraction. 10 other companies are working on software pilots. Open Spirit is looking to demonstrate the ‘real value’ of the software at the San Antonio SEG. For Harter, the ultimate rationale for Open Spirit is the Virtual Application (using OS-compliant components) running the Virtual Project (with disseminated data). Open Spirit currently has 21 employees.

Bell Geoscience

Bell Geoscience was launched a couple of years back with great fanfare. At the time Bell was touting gravity technology, developed by the US navy for submarine warfare, as about to replace seismics. It didn’t, and Bell Geoscience went into Chapter 11 in July 2000. The company has been reborn ‘in a modest way’ and is now ‘doing things more seriously.’

Dynamic Geoscience

Dynamic Geoscience is a joint venture between Fairfield Industries and Edinburgh’s Heriott-Watt University. Current work is mostly on academic-focused projects - including developing a 32 node Intel/Linux cluster, used for reservoir modeling (Fairfield US has a 1000 node cluster for seismic processing). The reservoir modeling software may ultimately be productized. The unit is one year old and should “grow into an important part of our business.”


GeoQuest’s Application Service Provision (ASP) will be offering remote, web based access to the full suite of GeoQuest applications for companies based in Aberdeen from August 2001. The European Service Center will also be offering data management and other services.

*More detail on the Sincor project is available in Landmark Solutions Vol. 6 N° 2. Drilling rates of over 150 meters per hour are commonplace, with a well drilled in as little as four days. Up to five rigs may be drilling at any given time generating a massive amount of data. Sperry-Sun (a Halliburton company) uses its InSite rig information to ‘beam’ real-time information to Landmark’s OpenWorks. Gamma ray, resistivity and directional data is sent every 2 seconds via satellite, and the OpenWorks geology database is updated every 2 minutes. Sincor chief geophysicist Yves Kremer said “We are drilling much better wells by using real-time technology.”

Click here to comment on this article

Click here to view this article in context on a desktop

© Oil IT Journal - all rights reserved.