Oil ITJ Interview—Mark Bashforth, Roxar

Oil IT Journal caught up with Roxar’s Software Division boss Mark Bashforth and CTO Andreas Hatloy at the EAGE last June. They explained how Roxar is moving from ‘product’ to ‘problem-fixing’. Roxar’s IRAP/RMS has carved itself a niche as a ’best of breed’ reservoir modeling solution with a 50% market share. The company is building on this with a new push for ‘openness’ and integration.

OITJ—You joined Roxar early last year, what has happened since then?

Bashforth—Roxar has changed dramatically in the last year. Roxar used to be very product-focused, not problem focused. So we are changing to a customer-centric focus, solving problems and addressing needs. We are also updating our portfolio, staying innovative but also emphasizing integration and ease of use.

OITJ—How does your portfolio fit in with the major vendors’ software suites?

Bashforth—In terms of integration and multi-platform openness, the oil and gas lags. So we are taking advantage of this. The reality is that the two dominant players don’t want openness, so there is an opportunity here for Roxar.

OITJ—This will be hard to achieve if Schlumberger and Landmark don’t want to play!

Bashforth—This is not rocket science. Open Spirit is a good example of what can be achieved (except that Landmark doesn’t want to play). Also Roxar’s own Open File Format, OFF, can be used for data transfer, and the RMS Open API can be used by developers. This shows that a small company can achieve such things. Our new software reflects ease of use and our commitment to customers.

Hatloy—Since I re-joined Roxar last August we have issued three major releases. With V 7.3 of IRAP, our portfolio is expanding. Our offer goes from mapping to flow simulation and our integrated reservoir simulator is used as screening tool prior to full-scale flow modeling.

OITJ—What commercial impact has this built-in simulator had?

Hatloy—It has been good for current clients and is bringing us new clients.

Bashforth—This has been a great success for a company of our size. Statoil and BP are moving to integrate the Tempest simulator. Tempest is also moving into flow simulation. But there is still a strong demand for a stand alone simulator.

OITJ—What exactly is in RMS FloSim?

Bashforth—We have incorporated a black oil simulator with some ‘bells and whistles’ into our modeling tool.

OITJ—And what is new in RMS 7.3?

Hatloy—We have revamped the mapping, which is very fast—a ten fold speed improvement. Also new is a 3D well correlation model with horizontal and highly deviated wells. Models can go from simple to very complex as a field matures. We are also moving further to seismic integration.

Bashforth—The other news is that our ‘right time’ (RT) product hardware division is evolving its ‘smart field’ DACQUS product with new inter-application synergy. This will be integrated with the RMS portfolio. We have also been doing WITSML RT visualization for Norsk Hydro.

OITJ—Is WITSML really deployed on rigs, or just in a test environment?

Bashforth—I’m not sure about rig site deployment. We are testing our WITSML implementation with Baker Hughes.

OITJ—What’s the timeframe for rig site modification of software?

Bashforth—This is quite a big task! We already have fast cycle time : 12-18 months release cycle and 3 year roadmap. But our quality focus slows things down some.

OITJ—Can you give an example of a field or project where ‘right time’ is happening today?

Bashforth—Bids have come up, but there’s a lot of hype. Statoil’s Valhall 4D seismics and real time screening of the waterflood is a reality. Huldral is Statoil’s test bed for RT operations monitoring.

OITJ—What are Tempest’s selling points?

Bashforth—It was developed by the simulation community based in Oxford UK. Contrary to widely held belief, Eclipse does not rule the world. Technology and IT-wise, RMS is roughly equivalent to Eclipse, but Tempest has a cost advantage. Our developer Dave Ponting came from the Eclipse team. Tempest was developed by ex-Eclipse folks. Today, Tempest is mainly sold in Russia but we are taking it to other markets. It has been successful with consultants because of its ease of use and speed (due to a Fortran to C++ port).

OITJ—On the subject of technology, do you offer support for cluster-based simulation?

Bashforth—We don’t, but clients can achieve this using remote execution. Today we are seeing more demand in the area of storage but the move to 64 bit computing with Linux or Windows will be a major paradigm shift. Sun and SGI have priced themselves out of the market. We are currently partnering with Microsoft on 64 bit computing. This will split into two camps with Linux and Windows-based solutions. RMS 7.3 is a big step forward with our first official 32 bit Linux version.

OITJ—What else is of note in the PC world?

Bashforth—There is also a groundswell of PC-based technology such as Direct X, which we have deployed in a new fracture solution. We are also very interested by common off-the-shelf (COTS)-type collaboration and data mining such as that coming from Cognos (although this is not deployed by Roxar). Data access is very primitive in the industry still. This is an area of current research—I can’t tell all!

OITJ—Where is your current development focus—Windows or Linux?

Bashforth—Both. We will not force our customers’ hands. We do see more rapid take up in Windows.

Hatloy—The industry has a long way to go especially in the fields of user interface, ease of use, deployment and access to distant data. We have something in the pipeline for next year…

OITJ—What’s your market share?

Bashforth—IRAP/RMS has the largest market share for reservoir modeling, over 50%.

OITJ—What’s the killer software combo for your clients?

Bashforth—There are many possible configurations. Some consultants work with RMS and Excel spreadsheets. This can be done with a scripting language to move data to Excel and into Crystal Ball or by using Palisade’s @RISK.

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