ESRI Petroleum User Group 2004

The PUG is the place to be for upstream GIS specialists. Attendance was around 800 (up from around 600 last year). ArcGIS 9 is due for imminent release including a new geoprocessing environment (GUI and command line-based), new 3D extensions and componentized tools for developers building enterprise GIS solutions. Extended functionality comes from Safe Software’s extract transform and load (ETL) tools and the Maplex labeling engine. Data ownership roles and replication paths are critical if ‘balkanized’ data management is to be avoided. Replication got a high profile and metadata is getting recognition as the key to enterprise GIS – and indeed to interoperability in general. The pipeline data model wars seem have calmed down some. It’s not that they have been won—there is a recognition that multiple data models exist, and that software should be capable of handling the different flavors. A half day geodetics workshop was organized by the Americas Petroleum Survey Group to spread the geodetic gospel to the ignorant. If you think that latitude and longitude tell you where you are—think again, read our report from the workshop (next article) and visit with the American Petroleum Survey Group on

ESRI’s head of software development, Scott Morehouse, stated that ESRI’s goal is to build information systems by providing a high-level programming and information model. A generic GIS framework minimizes application-specific engineering and allows domain specialists and users to configure systems. For ESRI, the Geodatabase is the ‘open’, generic model for geodata. Deployment can leverage .NET, Java, WebServices or HTML. Interoperability is best achieved by a loosely coupled architecture and ArcGIS 9 is an extensible, componentized solution. Developers can embed the ArcgGIS Engine into their own applications. Morehouse believes in ‘accepting and adopting standards that work’, citing ISO, OGC, web services and ‘API’s’.


John Calkins (ESRI) demonstrated ‘push button’ ArcGIS install by end users without system administrator privileges. This uses the Microsoft Installer and encapsulates all options and packages and uses Microsoft’s System Management Server (SMS). Calkin then demonstrated the personal Geodatabase – with a coal bed methane study of the Powder River Basin. The demo rolled-in mining data from the Bureau of Land Management and 29,000 wells – all packaged in a Microsoft Access Geodatabase. ArcGIS 9 now supports a raster data type – scanned well logs can be stored in the database. Data from IHS Energy’s SQL-Server repository of US wells and other public sources was rolled in on-the-fly. Weather data can also be subscribed to and integrated into the map. Safe Software’s Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) has been embedded in ArcGIS 9 and opens up a range of file formats including AutoCad DWG, GeoGraphix, InterGraph, MapInfo tab files etc. The Maplex labeling engine supports gapped, labeled contours. Displays can now be paused during map drawing – to add or remove layers without waiting for the wrong map to be drawn.


A new GUI supports geoprocessing (also scriptable in Python, VB or Java Script and legacy AML). Workflows can be packaged for re-use and used to ‘document tradecraft’. Other applications include basin modeling and high consequence area (HCA) pipeline studies. An oil and gas geoprocessing video is available on the ESRI website.


Ken Hood described an ExxonMobil project to capture and preserve the results of E&P farm-in opportunities. Traditionally this information spans a multitude of databases and data types. ExxonMobil has built a 3D framework where the basic data element is the reservoir compartment. This is captured as a geolocated outline, along with chronostratigraphic unit and field assessment data. The system allows for aggregation at field, prospect, region and business unit levels. GIS based presentations support opportunity analysis and selection of multiple undrilled prospects, partially explored structures and multiple stacked pays.


Tracy Thorliefson (Eagle Information Mapping) holds that, ‘Stovepipe solutions to Pipeline GIS are not the best approach to interoperability’. Operators have a range of other applications which need to share data—Maximo, SAP Plant, AFE databases etc. All of these have their own repositories and contain overlapping data to that held in the pipeline database. Other key data sources include DOT regulated daily operations, scheduled inspections, leak detection and so on. All this makes for ‘balkanized’ data management, data islands, duplication and inconsistencies. How do you get all systems to talk to each other? First decide who owns the data—you need one owner for each data type. Next, make sure data is captured once and for all—as near to the source as possible. Finally, develop service-oriented systems and promulgate controlled replication. GIS should only own geo information. ‘Data owner’ systems replicate content to ‘data consumer’ systems.

GIS in BHP Billiton

According to Katya Casey and Robert Graham, BHPB is ‘very serious about metadata’ and uses XML style sheets and a form-based interface with pick lists for metadata capture. BHPB wants to ‘educate’ vendors to supply data in the most current SDE format – along with good metadata. Shape files are not good enough. Vendors are willing – and in the future BHPB will mandate metadata supply. BHPB’s GIS rolls-in ArcGIS, Petrosys, OpenSpirit, ERMapper and the BHPB Portal. Geodynamic’s Spatial Search Engine is used for spatial/text-based search. Today the big paradigm shift is to Arc Internet Map Server – with vendors supplying data as services. IHS Energy, PetroWeb, WesternGeco, TGS Nopec, PGS, Fairfield, Veritas and PriceWaterHouse are all providing data services to the BHPB web server. A future project will involve the creation of a ‘corporate metadata store’.


John Stigant (Devon Energy) gave an entertaining account of real-world GIS (a.k.a. surveying) with Devon’s geodetic due diligence on a Syrian license. Maps of key well locations showed up to 50m variation. A geodetic campaign set out to verify well locations and block boundaries. The International Terrestrial Reference Frames (ITRF) framework was used for triangulation. All topographic information including station photos was loaded into a geodatabase. The result, all of Devon’s applications—ER Mapper, GeoFrame and Geographix—now operate with the same spatially referenced data.


Malcolm Ross (Landmark Graphics) demonstrated the use of ArcGIS to display plate tectonic reconstructions—with 3D displays in ArcScene and ArcGlobe. An ambitious ‘whole earth’ modeling systems integrates Geomark petroleum systems data, climate simulation data and orographic (mountain building) effects to match oil isotopic signature with palaeotemperatures.

C-K Associates

Perry Lopez (C-K Associates) showed GIS usage on a pipeline environmental impact study in South Louisiana involving alligator counts, beach elevations, bird nesting, vegetation and land loss/gain. The pipeline track was overlain on a photo mosaic of ‘before’ and ‘after’ images—along with a second control swath. The study showed a significant amount of land loss over five years, but the control area lost as much as the pipeline corridor.


Deloitte & Touche’s PetroView is migrating from MapInfo to ESRI. Geodynamics’ text and spatial search engine (SSE) now includes field outline data. Information BuildersWebFocus front end now sports an ArcIMS extension providing a map-based interface to corporate data. MJ Harden has embedded PipeView in ArcGIS and now presents graphical interface to risk assessment data and US DOT compliance. New Century Software’s GAS HCA analyst also targets DOT compliance with an ArcGIS 8.3 extension to identify high consequence areas. OGM’s LandSlam is a hosted service for communication between operators and land personnel—replacing paper-based updates of title information. LakeView Technology’s OmniReplicator synchronizes multiple databases including SDE data. OpenSpirit’s new SDE write functionality lets non-spatial applications share positional information with mapping applications. Petris WINDS GIS Data Viewer lets field operators redline maps and integrate GPS data input. Petrosys’ Map SDE connector displays shapefile data Petrosys’ map.

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