IQPC Oil and Gas Knowledge Management

IQPC’s 2002 Advanced Oil and Gas Knowledge Management conference held in London was a sell-out with standing room only for the first session. ‘Advanced KM’ may be something of an oxymoron. KM is essentially about the application and sustained use of simple technologies and concepts like learning and sharing. The real need is for hands-on, practical solutions to the KM problem and for tools to support communities and to search text intelligently. The IQPC conference benefited from insightful presentations from KM practitioners in oil and gas companies including Enterprise Oil, PanCanadian, Marathon, Statoil, Shell, Amerada Hess and Norsk Hydro.

Enterprise Oil

Enterprise Oil, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Shell, has had an active KM program in place since 1998. Mark Sawyers described Enterprise’s five communities of practice (COP) active in turbidites, fractured reservoirs, rock physics, salt and deep water. Each COP has 30-40 members, holds workshops and teleconferences and maintains dedicated websites. Enterprise uses Adept’s Connect (originally developed for BP) as an expert directory and yellow pages registry of skills and other personal information. For Enterprise, KM is more than ‘just IT’ and encompasses regular conferences, departmental ‘away-day’ retreats and inter-business conferences. Other Enterprise KM initiatives include the ‘Peer Group Assist’ process for structured workflow-based decision making and ‘Making Better Decisions’ for after-action review. A ‘Post Well Evaluation Conference’ is held to avoid inconsistencies in project risking. An intranet site captures each event into a Lessons Learned database. Another project ‘Influencing the Operator’ (ITO) was initiated to avoid the confrontational nature of the Technical Committee Meeting. ITO attempts to build an ongoing relationship with the operator throughout a project’s life span.

Performing Teams

David Briggs from Performing Teams UK Ltd. has been applying management guru Richard Pascale’s ideas. Pascale says we need to “Mobilize people to self-discover the need to change: personal interest energizes change.” Briggs has worked with BP on a Community of Practice supporting polythene manufacture in BP’s European refineries. This effort suffered from a ‘not invented here’ syndrome. To implicate individuals more, BP tried the ‘manufacturing game’ involving teams working to experiment with different ways of doing business. In the upstream this has helped BP ‘discover better ways of bring in a well.’ The key message is to create an environment where ‘learning is risk-free and the feedback loop between actions and results is transparent’. Briggs observed that ‘informal communities that share tacit knowledge usually outlive and out-perform those which are brought together formally, even when separated geographically.’


Rick Jeffrey (Knowledge Leverage Inc.) was until recently KM advisor to ex PanCanadian. PanCanadian’s approach (before becoming EnCana) is to ask before every project: has this been done before? where and when? and what was learned? PanCanadian’s KM guru is Larry Prusak, director of IBM’s Institute of Knowledge-Based Organizations. Pan-Canadian found that around 40% of time was spent on non added-value activities associated with poor KM, which translated into excess costs of $125 million per year. During one gas field’s transfer between business units, exploration information was lost. The new team spent about 6 months redoing G&G. The delay getting the gas to market cost an estimated $15-25 million in lost cash flow. KM started with the Manager’s Online Community offering web access to information such as change management, member profiles, a discussion forum etc. Other communities such as Offshore Drilling, Project Management, IT Fluency, Aboriginal Issues, High Risk AVO etc. followed. Story-telling was introduced with help from IBM’s Dave Snowden.


Helen Gilman (SAIC Consulting) described how KM could help companies deliver growth through merger and acquisition (M&A). Gilman warned that M&A is inherently risky. Mergers and acquisitions ‘tend not to work, between 50 and 70% of deals fail to deliver the anticipated value’. To maximize the chances of success, Gilman suggests tapping into knowledge of previous deals and to ‘embed KM into the deal.’ Challenges for knowledge managers involved in such activity, are different cultures (petrochemical vs. E&P), poor continuity in M&A teams – individuals tend to work only on one project and the intermittent nature of M&A activity. KM can help by accessing information captured in previous deals. The KM effort should focus on understanding one’s track record of delivering synergy targets, and on investigating pitfalls in due diligence.

Comment – Gilman’s advocacy of building a KM database of A&M activity is laudable but hardly within the capacity of most oil and gas companies who ‘do’ M&A comparatively infrequently. Such information may be gatherable by a bank or other advisor – or perhaps by a consultant like SAIC. Congratulations to Gilman for the softest sell at the show!


Alf Michaelsen (Marathon) is developing a broad-based document and KM service throughout the company. The document management spans traditional functions like drafting and the library, but extends to new technologies – web design and the portal. Marathon’s legacy DMS dated from 1983. It was very reliable, but used only by specialists. Marathon elected to move from its legacy system to a modern EDMS – with infrastructure to link its offshore, UK and Eire locations to its US headquarters. The system has been built around Novasoft’s Cimage. Cimage Oil & Gas now supports over 350 users in eight locations and stores over 120,000 invoices, 700,000 drawings and 15 million document pages. The installation has resulted in an 80% reduction in information distributed in paper form (equivalent to 150,000 pages per month).

Amerada Hess

Gary Moucha is a member of Hess’ IT Advanced Technology team with responsibility for the ‘I-laboratory’ which develops proof of concept projects in conjunction with IS and management. Hess’ guru is Ian Scott of the London Business School. Scott’s work with BP and SAIC led him to believe that ‘finding who knows is more important than capturing the knowledge’. Hess translates this into practice with a global, standard search engine. KM concepts are expanding into HR, IT, refining and finance. Projects include an examination of down hole failures in the West Texas Seminole field, reducing rig move costs in Algeria and HP/HT drilling cost reduction in Norway. KM is enabled by a world-wide intranet and search engine, the Hess Connect people finder and discussion groups and knowledge asset templates.

Shell E&P Co.

Gayle Holtzinger (Shell E&P Co.) is providing Shell’s US sub with a ‘connected’ knowledge transfer (KT) environment. Connections can be in any direction between people, the organization and its best practices. KT happens at conferences and learning fairs – where they generated ‘a lot of electricity in the air’ and became a showcase for Shell’s successes. Shell currently has various ‘networks’ – communities – for topics like SAP plant maintenance, asset life-cycle documentation, HR, petrophysics, drilling and producing operations. The latter has developed a KM methodology called Practiced Excellence through Accelerated Replication (PEARL). Community members submit successful practices to a local focal point for input. An administrator selects the PEARLs which are communicated to other foci. Upon adoption a PEARL is deployed and usage monitored. Holtzinger commented on cultural differences. E&P folks are keen to act if something appears worth doing. Production is more deferential and asks management approval first! Shell’s tools of the trade include NetMeeting and OpenText’s Livelink. Technology can remove time and distance barriers. Electronic KM needs dedicated full time support. Face-to-face interaction remains crucial.


Anne Kleppe is an ‘e-collaboration professional with Statoil. E-collaboration happens when two or more people make an IT-supported decision they would not have arrived at without the technology. Statoil is rolling out a full e-collaboration solution in 2002. The core component is content management – of documents and images. This integrates a KM spectrum of content management, collaboration and portal technology. 2002 will see a basic content management solution with secure collaboration through the portal. In 2003, an internet-based workspace solution with personalized information access will be added. 2004 will see learning on demand and wireless anywhere. Part of the program involves the re-establishment of a central service provider. Statoil’s inspiration for its collaborative effort comes in part from a paper by The Mitre Corp.’s Pam Dargan (see page 3 of this issue of Oil IT Journal for a synopsis of Dargan’s views).

Norsk Hydro

For Tom Henriksen (Norsk Hydro), KM involves a collaborative approach to capture and use of enterprise information assets. These include databases, documents and most importantly, the un-captured tacit expertise and experience of individuals. Hydro’s guru is Ikujiro Nonaka of the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Nonaka has developed a methodology for moving information around in the tacit/explicit knowledge space. Hydro is implementing these ideas with its e-collaboration – remote access infrastructure.

TV email

One facet of this is that Henriksen can use the TV in a hotel to receive his email – at ‘secure web hotels’. Henriksen’s presentation went way beyond KM to outline Hydro’s complex IT infrastructure. Hydro’s trading is migrating to a unified Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) – based system. Elsewhere the ‘overriding paradigm’ is the portal which targets specific groups of users, and has clearly identified objectives and business cases. Hydro deploys IM tools including Autonomy, Corporum, Lotus Domino, Documentum, NetMeeting, QuickPlace, Symphoni and Interwoven’s TeamSite. Chairman Reid Smith wound up the proceedings by putting K-managers in their place – “you wanted to be a rock star, but you ended up a roadie”.

This article is abstracted from a 10 page report on the IQPC Advanced KM in Oil and Gas Conference produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Service. For information on this service send mail to

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