POSC AGM and Conference, Houston

The 2005 Annual POSC members got a couple of surprises with the departure of POSC CEO David Archer and the announcement by POSC Chairman Herb Yuan that POSC, PPDM and PIDX are in ‘merger discussions.’ BP and Pioneer presented major in-house IM projects. WITSML is spawning a production reporting standard ‘PRODML’ and POSC is planning to extend its XML activity to seismic, geological and facilities, to offer a ‘single integrated standards family.’ The Data Store SIG is reborn as the ‘Epicentre Data Model SIG’ and the POSC/CAESAR Association returns to the POSC fold.

Chairman Herb Yuan said that POSC is ‘struggling with its purpose’. Current Priorities are to ‘harness WITSML,’ to kick off the production data exchange standard and to ‘ensure that POSC is relevant to its members.’ A recent POSC-commissioned Gartner Group study investigated ‘the case for standards in the oil industry.’ The study recommended ‘driving standards bodies together,’ considering a ‘clean start’ and a new push for ‘standards reform.’

2005 Scorecard

Yuan presented a scorecard of POSC’s 2005 activity, revealing that ‘discussions on a potential merger of POSC, PIDX and PPDM have been ongoing for the last few months.’ Agreement has been reached with PIDX to ‘take things further.’ The position with respect to PPDM is ‘pending.’ POSC is to become more project based with a focus on special interest groups (SIG). With the departure of David Archer, POSC CTO Alan Doniger is to be interim CEO.


Alan Doniger gave an update on POSC’s 2005 activity. POSC has aligned WITSML geodetics and coordinate reference systems standards with the EPSG. The well GUI (a.k.a. well identity) service has been proposed and letters of intent have been received from five companies. POSC is testing WITSML-style production reporting standard with ERA (a Mobil/Shell spin-off) in California. The data storage solutions SIG appears to have been re-branded as the Epicentre Data Model SIG. WellLogML is to retire in favor of WITSML. A request is ‘pending’ to establish a WITSML-based geophysical data standard. WITSML coverage will thus span the whole POSC data ‘triangle.’ The intent is to have a single ‘integrated standards family with a great deal of reuse and consistency.’


Tom Halbouty (CIO Pioneer Natural Resources) offered a web services ‘survivors’ guide.’ Halbouty advocates a ‘hands-on’ approach from the CIO, ‘if you turn loose a bunch of consultants you are going to land on the high side of complexity.’ It is important to ‘assure simple services that work before chasing elephant projects.’ Pioneer’s engineers can control and manage fields via the Portal, logging on from home to fix a problem. Pioneer has linked 25 data stores into its system which leverages the BEA/Plumtree portal, business intelligence from ArcPlan and Schlumberger’s Decision Point. Other components include Spotfire, Map Objects and ArcSDE. OpenSpirit and Schlumberger’s ‘Coral’ Data Access provide connectivity with E&P data sources. Halbouty was sanguine regarding standards which are ‘under funded and there are too many cooks in the kitchen.’


Rusty Foreman presented BP’s services-oriented real time architecture project, covered in our recent report from the 2005 SPE (OITJ Vol. 10 N° 10). Foreman reported increased take-up of the system, in particular from BP’s oil traders. For Foreman, SOA is ‘one of the next big things,’ on a par with the move from the mainframe to distributed computing. But in the Q&A, Chevron’s Roger Cutler remarked that though SOA was an interesting technology, it is only a part of the solution. The other problem is the plethora of nomenclatures and taxonomies that are different for each application. Foreman also presented the new PRODML initiative (also covered in our report from the SPE). WITSML and PRODML are the first components in what POSC sees as a single ‘ML.’ This may involve a ‘re-brand’ as ‘PETROML’ with subsets of WITSML, PRODML, EXPLML, PROJML and so on. Cutler opined that, ‘Web services have not penetrated upstream because primary datasets can’t be expressed in XML. We need a method like the SOAP Message
Transmission Optimizing Mechanism (MTOM) to incorporate binary data.’

Seabed standards

Jay Hollingsworth (Schlumberger) spoke on ‘standards for Seabed data modeling.’ Seabed is Schlumberger’s ‘next generation’ E&P data model. Seabed takes advantage of new technologies to speed technology update. Relevant new technologies include Oracle 9, Oracle 10, and customer push for Linux, ESRI, LDAP and SQL Server. Subsequent to its acquisitions (notably Petrel) Schlumberger needs a broader information management (IM) solution. One solution would have been to use PPDM. But PPDM, while popular, ‘has no logical model.’ An alternative was Open Spirit, ‘a great solution but one that only covers a narrow spectrum of data types.’

Shell and POSC

Philip Lesslar and Nancy Tso described Shell-sponsored activities during 2005 including the distributed temperature sensor (DTS) standards, the Shell standard lithology legend. Shell has also contributed to WITSML, well header data (GUWI) PWLS and PRODML.


Departing CEO David Archer traced his career with Amoco, INT and as POSC CEO. Archer recalled POSC’s lean years—’Five years ago things were not so good. $10 oil did little for the standards initiatives.’ POSC survived, reinventing itself and slimming down. More recently, POSC has been ‘ahead of the crowd’ with its web services work and is now helping with WITSML and PRODML take up. Archer regretted that POSC ‘was not more of a software organization—we don’t eat our own dog food!’ This contrasted with Open Spirit which, unfortunately, ‘took some of the energy out of POSC.’ Another regret was not doing a better job of aligning POSC with the POSC/CAESAR Association initiative. Today, the POSC vision is to fill the E&P standards space with POSC XML standards. On the proposed merger, Archer said, ‘Many present know that we have already looked at a merger with PPDM. The organizations are not aligned and a ‘win-win’ is unclear. We would need a good ‘pre-nup!’ Archer regretted that once Epicentre was finished, the industry ‘moved on.’ But with WITSML, ‘We are lucky that people are still involved. It is great to see such good participation from Shell, Chevron and others.’

This article is an edited version of a six page report produced for The Data Room’s Technology watch subscribers. For more information on this please email tw@oilit.com.

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