Landmark 2002 Forum

Landmark is holding some 12 city forums throughout the world this year. They believe the formula brings the Landmark message to more people than the old ‘big event’. Landmark is fired-up about the move from Unix to Linux - claiming a ten-fold price performance improvement. Landmark’s atomic mesh work is coming along nicely and may become the interpretation/model building workflow of the future. Other big news is the Alliance with Accenture, application hosting – now a viable delivery mechanism and maturing Team WorkSpace portal. Other novelties include full field simulation and the incorporation of CAD drawings of production facilities within 3D views of the subsurface.

John Sherman

John Sherman’s top-level view of the state of the industry was a ‘tale of 3 curves’. Over the last century, the oil price has averaged at $16-18 per barrel. Globally, we have always appeared to be just behind the peak in world oil production. Moore’s law is driving the IT challenge and opportunity – one facet of which is ‘to put more compute resources down hole.’ Sherman cited a CERA study that suggested the ‘efficient use of integrated technology can cut finding costs.’ Sherman illustrated such possibilities with some impressive Spec Decomp imagery of a deltaic environment two miles beneath the Gulf of Mexico.


Sherman claims ‘breakthrough’ status for Landmark’s new ‘modeling while interpreting’ technology - first revealed in Oil IT Journal Vol 6 N° 9. This is enabled by a move away from the traditional surface-based interpretation paradigm to a new ‘polyhedral-mesh’ based construct. Instead of working with surfaces, the action of picking a horizon or fault defines, or refines, a set of space-filling polyhedra. At any point in an interpretation, models that require fully-determined 3D spatial elements can be used. The boundary between geophysical, geological and reservoir engineering models is progressively removed. This ‘will take about another two years to develop fully.’

Decisions, decisions

Another new technology has developed out of Landmark’s Decision Space economic modeling. Infrastructure-led interpretation incorporates surface facilities and their economics into the interpretation and modeling process. All this leads towards the Field of the Future – a.k.a. the E-Field where integration cuts across 4D seismics, model building and field automation. This is a part of the ‘real time paradigm shift,’ – a movement from waterfall (sequential) to parallel process. All this underpins faster prospect generation – giving companies a competitive edge.

Push right, push left!

Following his stint with Dell Computer last year, Sherman was able to provide an insight into Dell’s outsourcing business strategy of ‘push left, push right.’ Dell is always seeking to externalize upstream and downstream components of its business. It is pushing ‘left’ to outsource and streamline manufacturing, and pushing right to let the shipping company do more of the distribution. The equivalent for an upstream oil company for push left is clear enough in the Norwegian context – you ‘push’ data management into PetroBank. Pushing ‘right’ in the E&P context would involve outsourcing prospect analysis.


Nancy Benthein presented Landmark’s innovations - particularly the growing importance of the Linux operating system. Benchmarks of SeisWorks on Linux have produced spectacular improvements. For example the speed numbers for a Sun Ultra 60 are comparable to a bi-processor Dell, but the price differential is tenfold! Similar comparisons have been made with Zmap+ running on IBM Linux Intellistations versus SunBlades with a 4x speed improvement and a 5x price edge – giving an overall 20 x price/performance in favor of the IBM/Linux machine. David Malicki underlined the fact that Linux was making headway in the commercial world with Oracle and SAP ports. Linux is deployed by Google, Conoco, Shell, Amerada Hess, WesternGeco and CGG.

GeoProbe not on Linux!

Contrary to previous indications, Landmark has no immediate plans to port Magic Earth’s GeoProbe to Linux. No doubt this reflects the problems of marketing ‘high end’ visualization technology at the same time as discovering the power of commodity hardware and a free operating system!


SeisWorks enhancements improve horizon flattening while different windows can now be locked together to allow for coherent zooming or movement within cubes. Recumbent wells can be displayed. New ToolTips offer pop-up help on mouse-over to offer additional well information for instance. SeisWorks PowerView will be released in 2-4 months and will offer multiple synchronized views of horizons with different color bars. By year end 2002, Zmap+ will be available in the Power View which will also support 4D workflows. OpenVision now has probes (à la Magic Earth) and can now display CAD models – to allow for visual integration with surface facilities. Again – Linux is claimed to beat Unix hands down in price-performance.

Dell alliance

Steve Smith, Dell’s high performance computing business manager believes that Linux ‘breaks the link between hardware and software’. Dell has no proprietary Unix to protect and Linux fits with Dell’s direct selling strategy. Dell offers ‘systems management, performance, reliability and service,’ working with Red Hat for support with drivers. Linux supercomputers can be upgraded with new processors avoiding the ‘fork lift upgrade’ problem – i.e. having to remove the old machine to bring a new one in à la IBM SP2 or SGI Origin. Amerada Hess has 500 workstations doing seismic processing in Houston. CGG has a 3000 cluster machine. The Cray T3E is now a Dell cluster! Dell is working with Saudi Aramco on a cluster for reservoir simulation based on Intel Xeon, 8 node 16 processor cluster. This machine will give 64% of the performance of an IBM Nighthawk 3 for about 3% of the cost.

PetroBank news

Supergrid extends PetroBank to allow arbitrary random line retrieval and seismic volume merging. On-the-fly post stack processing can be performed during data retrieval. Aberdeen-based Shell Expro has outsourced its seismic data management, in a five year contract, to Landmark’s PetroBank. The contract covers post-stack navigation and trace data, metadata QC and loading of pre-stack and field seismic, the Surf&Connect web front end and a large seismic remastering project. Landmark also provides on-site support for workstation project management. Shell’s legacy systems and data are migrating to PetroBank and other data stores. A demo showed a live, Hummingbird Exceed-based connection to PetroBank. ‘Impenetrable’ security deploys the ‘Digipass’ PIN-generated password system reminiscent of that used by John Nash in ‘A Beautiful Mind.’

Full-field simulation

Sheldon Gorell (Landmark) described how new technology is coupling the reservoir simulator with a representation of surface facilities and flow lines. This allows for optimization of both wells and production facilities by linking the VIP reservoir simulator to the Surface Pipeline Network (SPN) modeling tool. The SPN tool was developed with BP for Prudhoe Bay’s massive infrastructure. The Prudhoe Bay case history showed how the choice of surface facilities – and the ability to gather and process hydrocarbons from neighboring discoveries influenced the ultimate recoverable reserves of the field and the overall project economics. The technique is now used ‘pervasively’ throughout BP. The SPN graphical user interface (GUI) is available now for internal use within Landmark – a productized version will be out within 6 months.


Landmark’s new simulator ‘Falcon’ has been developed from scratch under another BP partnership. Falcon supports unstructured grids through an embedded version of Veritas’ SureGrid. Falcon also supports multiple reservoir models and has built-in facilities and network functionality. A new 3D Decision Space Shared Viewer will be available in the 4th quarter 2002. This was also developed for/by BP to view the Thunder Horse subsurface and surface facilities.

Accenture Alliance

Accenture’s Ian de Snoo is head of the Accenture/Landmark European Alliance, Jon Lewis heads up the Landmark EAME side. De Snoo believes that this alliance ‘is different!’ It is ‘core strategy to both Landmark and Accenture,’ and is part of a ‘five-year plan’. A joint team of around 40 people are co-located in Houston (see the Asset Management Center announcement on page 12 of this issue). The Alliance is backed by both managements and by ‘the C-levels in our client base’.


Alliance components are Business Integration Consulting (BIC) and IT Outsourcing (ITO). BIC puts tools on the desktop so that clients can start on their added value work as soon as they arrive at work. BIC is ‘not just a portal’. One client is working towards a virtual team. In general, Accenture will supply the communications, desktop and IT infrastructure and Landmark will provide applications and data management.

Lewis told Oil IT Journal that the Alliance has ‘no religious conviction’ as to total outsourcing – some clients do everything inside the firewall. Others outsource IT completely. The ‘BIC value proposition’ is very open. The Alliance ‘could receive payment out of increased revenues from an asset.’ Bold claims are made for the Alliance’s potential – a 10% production increase, 10-20% productivity enhancement and a 10-20% reduction in cycle time. When an Alliance proposition goes in, it goes with a ‘guaranteed minimum cost reduction promise.’

Team WorkSpace

Helen O’Connor and Ben Trewin gave a joint presentation on the Team WorkSpace (TWS) portal. TWS is a set of pre-defined workflows implemented in a fairly rigorous manner. Workflows are customized to a particular type of activity and managers can track project status and approve milestones. In a set-piece demo, a ‘virtual team’ was built to leverage driller’s knowledge from elsewhere in the ‘organization.’ Knowledge management software was used to capture discussions between economists. All in all, the ASP hosted software appears to work as advertised. Bandwidth does not appear to be an issue.

Not GrandBasin!

Note that the ‘Grand Basin’ name has been quietly dropped. The application hosting service is now delivered directly from Landmark. The ASP demo used a link to Houston at ‘around 50-100 kbps.’ OpenWorks ran faultlessly. The service will be hosted from Stavanger, Aberdeen, Houston and Calgary. Landmark already has two oil company clients in Houston. Different ASP configurations are available to cater for client preferences – one has retained some IT infrastructure and is moving stuff out piecemeal, another has in-house based ASP. Two clients have gone for a complete outsource. The Landmark ASP/outsourcing offering can include legacy components and third party applications.


Bill Shea demoed Kidra, a Norwegian high-end visualization and interpretation service provider, associated with Magic Earth. Kidra’s technology rolls in components from Foster Findlay to allow for seismic attribute generation on the fly. Magic Earth’s GeoProbe allows for ‘intuitive investigation’ of a seismic volume prior to interpretation. Arbitrary lines can be created to check auto-picking accuracy or to control and verify an interpretation. A history tracker keeps a record of interactions – such as deleted points etc. Foster Findlay’s ‘Azimuth Volume’ structural attribute was used in an impressive combo display. The probes appear faster than ever. Geobody sculpting can isolate a body between fault planes – with amplitude extraction and transparency. Put the stereo back on and according to Shea, “I guarantee that you will see faults and structural detail that you have never seen before – including small faults that may be very important in well planning and reservoir drainage. – You will only see these phenomena in a high-end 3D visualization environment.”

This report is abstracted from a 12 page report on the 2002 Landmark Stavanger City Forum produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Reporting Service. For more details on this service contact

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