PPDM AGM and Fall Meeting, Calgary

IHS Energy presented the results of a survey of clients’ IM strategies that showed rapid growth in unstructured data. Other presentations focused on taxonomies, metadata and quality issues. David Hood called for more ‘data openness.’ PPDM’s relational data model now underpins much existing industry software and first time modelers like BJ Services increasingly turn to the standard.

The PPDM 2005 fall member meeting heard nothing of Herb Yuan’s call for a merger with POSC (see our report on the facing page) although POSC’s Paul Maton gave a presentation of WITSML to the PPDM crowd. According to PPDM chairman Art Boykiw, PPDM intends to ‘collaborate with other standards organizations.’ But the Association’s main aim remains the ‘universal industry adoption of PPDM standards.’ The new PPDM board includes representatives from ExxonMobil, IHS Energy PetroCanada, OMV and Schlumberger.

IHS Energy

Steve Cooper presented the results of a survey of IHS Energy’s (IHS) clients’ information management (IM) challenges. The results are shaping IHS’ own IM Framework in a five year IM Roadmap. IHS sees the future of upstream IT as a combination of portals and master data stores of GIS and structured data. There ‘appears to be’ consolidation on PPDM for well data management with a move away from proprietary solutions to PPDM 3.7. IHS’ clients want their data hosted and served up over the web. Clients will stay on Oracle, ESRI continues to dominate GIS and MetaCarta gets a plug as the preferred link from GIS to DMS.

Linux on server

Most companies will continue with Unix or Linux on the server and Windows on the desktop, with Citrix or web-based clients preferred to installing software. SAP is the financial and ERP solution of choice although attempts to link technical and business systems have met with limited success, resulting in ‘an incomplete linkage of costs and revenues.’ Astonishingly, real-time drilling and production data volumes ‘now exceed seismics.’ Production data is the feed for ‘numerous operational activities and reporting events.’ 10% of technical data is structured and is growing at 10% per year, while 90% is unstructured and is doubling every 6 to 18 months.


PPDM CEO Trudy Curtis presented the 3.7.1 ‘correction’ model. This contains 45 modules, 1,200 tables and 24,000 columns. A Meta Model is delivered, pre-populated with information about the PPDM database. Along with the previous ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ levels, a new ‘content compliance’ level is under discussion. Looking forward to the next 3.8 release, PPDM is investigating how to leverage metadata standards from Dublin Core, and for GIS, the FDGC and ISO, although here there is concern over ‘IP issues,’ somewhat ironic in the context of standards.


Alan Bays (Flare Consultants) described the new support for ontologies, taxonomies and metadata in PPDM, leveraging W3C standards and embedding Flare’s Catalogue. A high level, starter ontology will cover all PPDM 3.7 modules. This will be extended into detailed disciplines using UNSPSC, NASA codes and the Shell Discovery Project—although this is ‘very incomplete’ (only G&G), and terminology is ‘confusing,’ a bad idea for a taxonomy standard!


Paul Gregory addressed the problem of populating a PPDM database. Data quality—a ‘universal problem’ which can impact migration projects, consuming up to 90% of the effort. Worse, data issues can be exacerbated by conversion, making validation difficult. Implementing PPDM is a non-trivial undertaking. Once migration is complete other problems arise such as data being reloaded from multiple public sources. The ‘mad rush’ to get at data during mergers and acquisitions is another problem.

Data loading

PPDM’s modular design helps the data loader but PPDM’s well and seismic modules share some 2,200 columns—’Without repeatable tools and processes, a project has to start from scratch every time.’ Intervera’s data loading tools offer drag and drop entity mapping from target to source database along and issue warnings of data mapping problems. Reusable rules can be applied to transform data during migration.

BJ Services

Tim Leshchyshyn descibed how BJ Services Canada has extended PPDM 3.8 in to the well operations domain in its ‘PayZone’ product for management of well service proposals, reports and customized engineering R&D. The database has been extended to include events (starting and stopping pumps), equipment (e.g. fatigue on coiled tubing) and materials consumed. The database is used to tune a frac job to clients’ requirements and resources. A case study (SPE 97249) showed how data mining of frac jobs in the Dunvegan formation, Alberta showed that the most successful parameters were not the most common choices. ‘The old optimization rules of thumb and industry understanding need to be understood again.’


David Hood (Geologic) advocates extending PPDM’s ‘openness’ to data vending. A truly open system should allow users of any software to interact with any data set, giving users full interoperability by employing a uniform set of standards. This involves removing the artificial business barriers around the data. For Hood, the big question is, ‘Why shouldn’t data be made accessible to everyone, through any software that a client wants to use?’ While this is technically possible, commercial issues in the past have argued against such an approach. Hood advocates a compromise business model with an infrastructure cost to balance economics. Hood believes that Canada has the opportunity to ‘show the world how to extend open systems into business practices’ and that local industry can benefit by extending products and expertise into the international market. ‘Until we remove the barriers we have created for our customers in accessing data, we cannot have a truly open system—no matter how much technical progress we make.’

Content standards

David Thomas (PPDM) traced the history of content standardization within PPDM. A pilot project (with POSC) which ran from 1999 to 2000 looked into standard sets of country names, various seismic meta data related terms and well elevation reference types. Since the pilot, standardization has extended to geodetic information and units of measure. Current work centers on more seismic related standards which will no doubt embed the PPDM’s SEISML format.

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