Oil ITJ Interview—Bill Befeld, Baker Atlas

Oil IT Journal was invited to attend the launch of recall V 5.0 including a new port to Windows, more of which in next month’s edition. But while at the Recall user group meeting, we caught up with Baker Atlas director Bill Befeld who explained Baker’s strategy in the field of software engineering.

Oil ITJ—Where does software fit into your organization?

Befeld—Baker Hughes International has six divisions. Baker Atlas handles wireline and formation evaluation. Atlas itself has three further subdivisions including Technology with Shraga Wolf as VP and myself as Director. We are located in the Houston Technology Center and the UK Recall unit.

Oil ITJ—Halliburton has Landmark, Schlumberger has GeoQuest—where is Baker’s software brand?

BefeldSoftware development is dispersed throughout Baker. All divisions have products that are licensed to oil company client users of Baker tools. Baker does not see a separate software business outside of its core divisions. Software is a creative process and shouldn’t get too big. Witness the size of our Recall unit with 25 people.

Oil ITJ—What software is developed at the Houston Technology Center?

Befeld—Mostly software for logging tools, surface instruments and Inteq-related products. Such software is generally all tied-in with our tools—and not ‘packaged’.

Oil ITJ - But they may relate to Recall..

Befeld—Sure. Part of my job is to help clients customize their own environments. If Agip likes our acoustic log processing software we’ll fix a license for their in-house use. Likewise for the vertical seismic processing toolkit, SeisLink which was developed through from our joint venture with CGG—VSFusion.

Oil ITJSo what’s the product line-up?

Befeld—The heart of our system is the database. This was designed from the ground up (by Chris Hanley—who also heads our Recall unit in London) and includes industry-specific data structures. This represents some sophisticated programming as much well data is recorded against both depth and time. Recall is really best in class for ‘multi-z’ and image data. The software started out as ‘Incline’ for measuring dipping beds—the imaging tools grew out of this. Petros—the petrophysical product is now being pushed into LogScape and now offers linked views—points, histograms, image data and flags showing z locations of selected analysis points.

Oil ITJ Did you use any third party tools for the Windows port of recall 5.0? Where are you in the Open GL vs. Direct-X debate?

Befeld—We didn’t use any third part tools for the Windows port. All our development is graphics neutral—but we are following the technology in this space.

Oil ITJ—WellLink communications are a likely game changer in this space.

Befeld—Indeed, Atlas Online built a satellite link to BH Direct. Now a customer with a laptop can see what’s happening at the rig in near real time—maybe a 3 second delay—via the Recall system. The possibilities are amazing—a user could receive a quick-look analysis on a personal digital assistant (PDA). This has major implications for decision makers! These folks used to be in the logging unit making big money decisions on the hoof—and sometimes on their own!

Oil ITJ—Does your software interface with other petrophysical analysis tools?

Befeld—We write our software for our logging tools—so users tend to use these. But of course Recall is the exception—and will work with all service companies’ logging tools. Our core business is logging—so surface systems are the key development targets.

Oil ITJ—Well site processing seems a bit anachronistic. Why don’t you stream all your data to Recall and process it there?

Befeld—Such ideas are always being kicked around. Maybe smarter logging tools will be able to push data up to the surface and on to a database. But downhole is a very harsh environment and these tools are very complex and must work in 400°F and 20,000 psi. I guess the answer is part history—part the organization of our core business of surface acquisition.

Oil ITJ—Recall 5.0 on Windows is a big change for your market.

Befeld—Windows is very important to us. Recall, which is in every major oil company, has always run on big systems. Windows opens up a larger end user market—which we will be targeting aggressively.

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