Oil ITJ Interview - John Sherman

PDM interviews John Sherman, Landmark Graphics Corp.’s head of marketing. Sherman reveals what’s under the hood of R2003, explains why Landmark prefers Oracle Server over OpenSpirt as its integration technology and defines PetroBank’s role.

John Sherman, Landmark’s Executive VP, Marketing and Systems, started with the company in 1989. He managed the development of OpenWorks and spent a year with Dell Computer as Director of software development, before he rejoined Landmark last May.

OIL ITJ - What are the innovations in R2003?

Sherman - There are over 900 enhancements to the product suite and a 160-page book covers the new features of R2003. The focus is on increased integration of the interpretation work process – from prospect to production. This breadth is matched by greater depth at each stage of the process. We have enhanced property analysis with workflows that integrate seismic-derived attributes with simulation. These workflows are further enhanced with more support for the Rescue model, allowing for integration with third party products. Our own StrataModel uses Rescue to export data to the VIP reservoir simulator. Within SeisWorks, we have plenty of core function enhancements. From simplified horizon flattening through ‘tool tips,’ greater ergonomics with reduced mouse clicks, to list-selection of parameters to help the interpreter through everyday tasks. A new 64-bit seismic volume display underpins enhancements to volume exploration with multiple roaming cubes.

OIL ITJ – A la Magic Earth?

Sherman – Yes, we now have a consistent viewing paradigm across Landmark and Magic Earth products.

OIL ITJ - Has this increased integration resulted in significant changes to the E&P workflow? Can the interpreter go back to prestack data, look for processing busts and fix them on the fly?

Sherman – Yes and No. The subject of cross disciplinary integration is an interesting one. Technically is now easy to go back to pre-stack data from the interpretation workstation and to verify stacking velocities, decon parameters etc. Prestack data is now accessible. But the reality is that once such an issue has been raised, any necessary reprocessing is likely to be done off-line by specialists. This is largely due to the increasing specialization of each segment of the workflow. An interpreter experienced in pattern-recognition – looking for turbidites in the Gulf of Mexico for instance – is unlikely to have the specialist skills required for seismic processing. Likewise a geophysicist is unlikely to have the skills required for petrophysical analysis. People tend to focus on their own ‘core business.’ While our integrated software offers them ‘ring use’ of functions that are on the periphery of their main activity, we are not seeing the upstream equivalent of the ‘renaissance man!’

OIL ITJ - What about modeling?

Sherman - The big news of R2003 is that geocellular modeling is now part of StrataModel with the full incorporation of the RC(2) product. Along with this goes enhanced framework building and uncertainty modeling to provide a probabilistic analysis of the veracity of an interpretation. We have added surface auto-tying and many improvements to the guts of the interpretation workflow. The GMA software – LogM is now integrated. Other enhancements include ease of use for VIP – the Simulation Desktop – and continued improvement of Zmap plus – with better management of map data.

OIL ITJ – How do you achieve cross platform interoperability?

Sherman – All of OpenWorks (OW) is built around Oracle Server – this is the key to cross platform deployment. Applications connect to other data stores through – and hence through the underlying Oracle transport mechanisms. You can search seamlessly and transparently across the net from anywhere. A user just sees a list of projects and selects the ones required. Large projects can be shared across multiple servers – again leveraging Oracle technology. Big shops have database administrators who love to play around tuning these systems for performance and improve integration.

OIL ITJ – So Oracle is your Open Spirit?

Sherman – In a sense, with OW and Oracle we get a lot of OpenSpirit-like capabilities. OW and GeoFrame are both cut from the same cloth – both try to be very distributed. OpenSpirit of course positions itself ‘above’ both OpenWorks and GeoFrame and provides one API for access to both systems. This is good for third parties seeking to work in both environments. But it is another layer of middleware and you don’t get something for nothing. For Landmark, there is just not enough benefit if using a CORBA backbone such as OpenSpirit. The other issue is that, because it caters for both environments, it tends to be a lowest common denominator solution. There will inevitably be limits as to what you can do with the OpenSpirit API. Open Spirit targets third party developers, it is good for browsing and mapping, but suffers perhaps from its seismic focus. Of course, Landmark supports OpenSpirit for those who want to use it.

OIL ITJ – But OpenSpirit is about more than just footprints. Updates and maintenance benefit from object technology and dynamically linked libraries as used in Microsoft Windows.

Sherman – Yes the dynamic linking is neat technology. We are trying to implement this in OW, but historically, UNIX has not been very amenable to this. We also have a massive amount of legacy code that would need to be redesigned. But really this is no big deal for Landmark, and the advantage to OpenSpirit is limited, in that they cannot ‘update’ OpenWorks.

OIL ITJ – With the PetroBank acquisition you have acquired a data management system that overlaps with Open Explorer?

Sherman – Not really. We are very pleased about the PetroBank acquisition and the ongoing PetroBank success story. PetroBank’s growing use is in the multi-client data repository environment. Open Explorer shines in the management of a large collection of OpenWorks projects. We are excited by the growing use of PetroBank by US-based mid-sized companies.

OIL ITJ – What is the status of your Linux releases?

Sherman – We will be releasing R2003 on Linux later this year. VIP and Promax are already working on Linux. Linux is a lot of fun to work with.

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