Oil ITJ Interview—Volker Hirsinger, Petrosys

Oil IT Journal spoke with Petrosys’ MD Volker Hirsinger following the 2004 user group meeting. A major client focus is on connectivity and Petrosys is checking out OpenSpirit’s middleware. Clients are also seeking a single entry point for GIS data management—not necessarily ESRI!

Oil ITJ—You just held the Petrosys user group meeting (PUG)—how did that go?

Hirsinger—We’ve been holding Petrosys user group meetings for the past 16 years. This time we had 23 attendees from 21 sites—mostly mature users who have been working with us for some time. Of course the Sydney meet has an Australian focus. We’ve been trying to extend the concept internationally with varying success. No one has a lot of time for meetings these days, but we are working on an internet-based international user community.

Oil ITJ—What were the hot topics at the PUG?

Hirsinger—Connectivity, with our links to Seismic Micro Technology (SMT) and Petrel, and the growing desire from users in all sized companies to get their job done within a single application.

Oil ITJ—Let’s take the connectivity issue first—are these Open Spirit (OS) links?

Hirsinger—Today these are hard-wired. But one outcome of the PUG was to focus our attention on OS-based connectivity. The emergence of Petrel (pretty well everyone is using it!) has forced us to take OS more seriously and we are evaluating it right now. We hope that OS will help us solve a long standing problem—that of connectivity with IESX and GeoFrame. Petrosys is a long-standing user of the GeoFrame dev kit—and this has presented a litany of problems—our ‘worst case’ link. There are restrictions with Solaris versions and you can’t connect to Linux from Windows. We expect OS will resolve these issues—especially Windows access, thanks to SMT’s effort.

Oil ITJ—What of the OS business model?

Hirsinger—We are treading carefully with OS. There is no doubt that the link to Petrel works. But there are bad stories! OS is tainted by the GeoShare (GS) business model. The GS half link developed by Petrosys never worked—because other half links weren’t right.

Oil ITJ—What do your clients think of OS?

Hirsinger—BHP Billiton is an OS client in its own right and is very enthusiastic. Chevron Texaco is very positive. Saudi Aramco has not been so successful. Overall today there is enough good news coming out of OS to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Oil ITJ—How far off are you from an OS-enabled version of Petrosys?

Hirsinger—Two months will see demo links and validation. Decision time will be around the SEG. Four months later we will be running with limited data types, according to what people want to share.

Oil ITJ—Isn’t this an all or nothing thing?

Hirsinger—Footprint issues (a classic GeoShare problem!) remain. A round trip footprint leaves a ‘lowest common denominator’ dataset. Another issue is versioning vs. compatibility as data models evolve. We have put a lot of effort into different versions of PPDM, Landmark, etc. We expect the same with different versions of OS. We would like to see some ‘future proofing’ here.

Oil ITJ—You mentioned earlier the desire for a single package—can you elaborate?

Hirsinger—Users increasingly want one package to do everything. Spatial data management is becoming a huge issue. Very large companies have a team to do this, but users in smaller companies have to manage their own spatial data. This is where our tools come into their own. Engineers and geoscientists are using Petyrosys for GIS. So we are putting development effort into a generic spatial data model alongside our ESRI/SDE links. We will be producing a white paper soon on spatial technology. We really have a lot of experience in this area, especially with Oracle Spatial, SDE and OpenGIS. We want to bring folks together to discuss all this.

Oil ITJ—But OS does GIS too?

Hirsinger—Yes, but we want to look in depth at the reality of all these options. GIS is the next generation of CAD. When you look at data managers in oil companies you can identify three cultures. Ex drafting GIS (who tend to have an ESRI focus). IT-oriented (G&G POSC, PPDM—precision and complexity!). And the ‘librarian’ stream—document management system oriented. All these have built their own empires and are working to carve out their share of the IT ‘cake’.

Oil ITJ—Is BP still your flagship client?

Hirsinger—BP is a good client. But we’ve also just signed ChevronTexaco’s New Orleans unit and we are working on other CTX accounts. ConocoPhillips worldwide is probably our best client today.

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