POSC captures WITSML

The Petrotechnical Open Software Corp. (POSC) like other standards orgs has had a hard time recently. But things are looking up—at least in terms of POSC’s recognition within the industry as the appropriate home for pre-cooked standards. Earlier this year the Geoshare organization elected to place itself in POSC’s custodianship. This month the embryonic WITSML initiative did likewise. But, with a budget of around $ 1.5 million, POSC is still strapped for cash. This means that some of the most interesting work migrates into more or less private Special Interest Groups (SIG). One such ‘secret SIG’ is the Data Storage Solutions initiative along with its subset—the information catalog. We report here on these interesting if obscure initiatives. More openness was shown in the very complete presentation of the new WITSML data transfer standard.


Kjetil Tonstad’s after action review of Statoil’s SCORE project reported on the successful move from the bad old days when data ‘entropy’ was high and when costs were unknown and essentially unmanaged. Now data finding time is down from 60% to 20%. Tonstad recognizes that implementing standards is time consuming. Statoil believes that each standard’s value has to be proved before implementation. Once adopted, standards are documented, enforced and where possible, shared with partners. As the SCORE project evolved, a significant reduction in IT support has been achieved. In 1990, Statoil had an IT support staff to technical user count of 1:1. In 2001, this had fallen to 1:8 (as against an industry average of 1:3). But Statoil is not through! Users still report working with inadequate or poorly documented data. The CDS aims to supply QC information and data context in a future release.


Abusalbi described an evolutionary chain of data and associated decision processes. This ranges from a single ‘answer’ of uncertain quality (which is probably wrong!) through degrees of quality assurance and risk management to the ‘noble goal’ of one ‘official’ answer with known uncertainty. Abusalbi recognizes that IT managers often have a ‘story’ to tell—of multiple suppliers and little or no standards. What can be done to improve this? The solution—or rather the solution spectrum—consists of “a bit of GIS, some Portal, a corporate data store and so on”. Schlumberger’s current focus is on integrated information management including ‘results management’. Abusalbi advocates staying within mainstream IM/IT by leveraging standards like XML and the use of Open Source processes, “where standards depend on specific software or formats.”


Flare Consultants has been working with Shell on an E&P taxonomy catalogue—a standard set of meta-data attributes for E&P information. The Catalogue is a ‘connection layer’—a high level federator that connects different data stores via ‘a common E&P language’—promising ‘easily integrated information’. The idea behind the Catalogue is to allow upstream knowledge workers to locate information—or ‘stuff’ as Flare likes to refer to it—within the disparate data sources that constitute the Knowledge Information Data (KID) continuum. The trick is to create a trimmed-down list of generic industry information attributes. This approach contrasts with the traditional key word classification. The University of Tulsa Petroleum Abstracts for instance use a 10,000 keyword list—Camden believes that 150 should suffice. Subsequent to Camden’s presentation, the catalogue project has been subsumed into the POSC Data Storage SIG.


Para’s Hamish Wilson presented the BP ‘ILX Portal’—an internet-based system that lets business units load prospect data and compare them with prospects generated within other business units. The ILX Portal facilitates fast, transparent decision making by the asset team.


Richard Wylde announced the release of a new UKOOA Data Exchange format for well deviation data. P7/2000 is now available on the UKOOA website. The format supports exchange of raw and processed well deviation data from single or multiple surveys. The format defines well path trajectories in three dimensional space and handles most international and local coordinate systems.


POSC has taken over the upkeep of the Petroleum Industry Data Dictionary (from the API). Geoshare is coming under the POSC wing and Shell is farming out the Discovery catalogue to POSC for publication. ‘Mergers and meanness’ have led to a shortage of funding and volunteer effort is down. This has not been helped by the fact that ‘POSC’s value proposition has been unclear.’ For 2003, the stretched budget will allow for extension of the well header ML initiative into the Norwegian context. The alignment of existing XML initiatives with the new WITSML work will be looked into and other ML’s developed for more business-oriented processes like joint venture reporting.


BP’s Matthew Kirkman kicked off the WITSML workshop with a review of WITS’ past. Legacy WITS has proved robust and successful. The requirement for XML has come from the operators—to ‘go beyond’ WITS and allow for more integration and a single ‘data instance’. The aim is for ‘better solutions’. WITS was rolled-out as an American Petroleum Institute standard. But then energy declined and the project stagnated. WITS has seen widespread adoption and use even by small companies with niche products. But most WITS functions work at a basic point to point level and it was felt that a replacement of the ASCII data stream with structured XML was necessary. The objective is to have a portable data object which could be sent by email if required. A Baker Hughes/Statoil project was initiated to revitalize WITS and this developed into a BP/Statoil/Shell project. Various XML developments have been done in the commercial sector. Other upstream MLs—WellSchematicML, WellLogML, LogGraphicML, WellPmlotML etc. are proving ‘hard to coalesce’ with WITSML. There is a need for rationalization.

WITSML program

A Real Time Data implementation with ‘get from store’ XML objects is under test by Statoil on the Heidrun and Valhall fields. In 2003, a ‘time-based custodial database’ will capture data which is otherwise lost. A pilot inter-vendor ‘publish and subscribe’ model for static objects will start in 2003. The ‘prize’ is plug and play with no data duplication. For instance it should be possible to ‘test’ a blow out preventer digitally and to reduce offshore head count with fiber connectivity to an onshore network.


Landmark’s Fiona Duguid outlined how Landmark’s ‘Right Time Server’ provides asynchronous WITS or WITSML data. These handle breaks in communications and also connect vanilla WITS to WITSML. The new data flow is from either WITSML (through http) to a Right Time Router (RTR) or from vanilla WITS over a serial filter which translates to WITSML. From the RTR, data is published to WITSML clients. The Server provides summary level browser-based real time monitoring. The RTR leverages Microsoft’s .NET common language runtime.


Nigel Deeks reported on the Schlumberger WITSML API Server (WAS). This supports well, well bore, logs and trajectory. WAS leverages Schlumberger’s InterAct host. Data security is ‘built in’ with 12 bit https—user name/password authorization. WAS makes all wellsite log data available—both streaming and static WITSML documents—and allows programmatic queries for average value, log range etc. along with unit conversion. Deeks showed a neat screenshot of logs, kelly height, gas ‘dials’ and LWD curves. In the pipeline are more WITSML-enabled applications with extend object support for WITSML V1.2 and WITSML for production.


According to Linda Dodge, Shell was a latecomer to WITSML (WML) but is now ‘very enthusiastic’. For Dodge, WML is ‘a great integrator.’ Shell’s objective is to enable ‘better decisions through real time data and vendor neutrality. Shell expects WITSML to be a future well engineering technology enabler. Next year a Shell pilot will test use of WITSML in reporting and real-time data provision from the offshore.


Andy Sentance (Baker Hughes) described the schema-based design of WITSML as offering a ‘web friendly’ applications programming interface (API) using http, SOAP, WSDL and XML. Sentance outlined 3 levels of data transfer – from ‘floppy toss’ file exchange, through client server ‘get from store’ to more sophisticated systems of subscription and notification. All are catered for using the SOAP/XML mechanisms. Data can be filtered to retrieve averages, a specific curve mnemonic or to limit depth ranges. Infrastructure is provided by Apache SOAP and the follow-on project Axis. WITSML is to become a special interest group within POSC—but ‘the same folks will be involved—not much will change’.


Rob MacEwan (ChevronTexaco) provided an update on the status of the American Petroleum Institute’s PIDX data exchange project. A new PIDX charter now provides funding through the API General Committee on Information Management and Technology (GCIMT). The PIDX complex products and services (ComProServ) project links in to UNSPSC product codes—and also is ‘based on’ OFS Portal and Trade Ranger templates. OFS Portal and Trade Ranger are now cooperating in a (part) DTI-funded project to revise the Petroleum Industry Data Dictionary (PIDD). Collaboration with POSC/CAESAR and ISO 15926 is ongoing.

This article is abstracted from a 10 page report on the 2002 POSC Fall member meeting produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch service. For subscription information, email tw@oilit.com.

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