SMi Data and Information Management Conference

SMi’s 7th E&P Data and Information Management Conference was reasonably well attended. Thanks to ENI, Shell and Saudi Aramco there was a significant contribution from end-user oils. Schlumberger presented an informative account of how Total is using FieldView as a global production data management system. Other companies are applying business improvement methods to upstream data management. Saudi Aramco is using Six Sigma methodologies to monitor and measure process improvement in well data management. Shell has re-vamped its Discovery ‘KID’ work with ‘Business Process Management’ techniques, rolling them into a new SAP NetWeaver-based E&P x-APP. Statoil is leveraging work done in the field of Information Orientation to measure IT performance.

Chairman Lester Bayne (Schlumberger Information Solutions (SIS)) kicked off the proceedings by noting that hitherto, industry focus has been on cost cutting rather than on ‘adding value’. Nonetheless, a ‘relentless focus’ on lowering finding costs has translated to measurable gains. Today, industry can afford to be more ‘adventurous,’ to improve core E&P processes. With the spotlight on company valuations, Bayne pointed out that these are based on reserve estimates which are projections. Company assets equate to an audit trail of such projections.

Total’s PDMS

Xavier Divisia (SIS) is project manager of Total’s Production Data Management Systems (PDMS Global) project. The PDMS combines a ‘commercial, market-proven solution’ (i.e. Schlumberger’s FieldView) with a consolidation of Total and SIS’ best practices. The project uses a ‘Program Office’ model whereby management is jointly owned by Total and SIS. FieldView data capture and production and accounting modules (PAR) are deployed along with OilField Manager (OFM). Following a successful pilot in Qatar, Total is rolling out worldwide in Brunei, the Netherlands, France and the Congo. A site assessment is underway in Venezuela. To date 12 affiliates have signed up to the project. Divisia concluded that the Program Office vision works, reconciling project management tensions – ‘the joint ownership concept works’.

‘No More paper’

Stuart Robinson (UK DTI) asks, ‘Do we really need paper logs, seismic tapes, hardcopy reports and maps?’ Today’s IT systems offer commoditized access control and security – as witnessed by online banking systems. A significant step in e-transacting is the development of an approvals workflow involving submission, review, approval and a legally admissible digital signature. Today, there is no more paper, ‘everything is digital’. The move to ‘all digital’ will help relieve companies of their permanent obligation to ‘deliver data in any format at any time from now to eternity.’

Digital Signatures

Richard Mapleston described Shell’s collaboration on the DTI’s digital signature initiative – a corollary of ‘no more paper’. Already, digital signatures are a key component of UK document management and could extend worldwide for a company like Shell. Other industries: defense, aerospace and pharmaceuticals are currently deploying digital signatures using the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). The UK oil industry is implementing PKI from the Oil and Gas Trust Scheme. PKI is also of import to e-invoicing, most countries accept (or will accept) digitally signed documents. The DTI and Shell prototype uses either signed pdf or XML documents and a secure device (smart card or software) to hold the signature. A commercial signing plug-in ‘Squiggle’ is used in the DTI. Mapleston underlined the effort involved in maintaining a trust –based system. Pharma has 20 people managing its ‘SAFE’ signature program.

IM in Saudi Aramco

According to Ibrahim Al-Ghamdi (Saudi Aramco), ‘Data and information are as important as the entities they represent.’ The key components of the E&P IT system have been identified as process, people, technology and data. Of these, technology is ‘not a challenge,’ but the other three are. Al-Ghamdi analyzes Aramco’s processes and stakeholders into ‘supplier’, ‘input’, ‘output’ and ‘customer’ – the Six Sigma SIPOC paradigm. This was illustrated with a walk through Aramco’s Well Approval Package (WAP) workflow. Here a single system allows progress to be monitored and measured. Aramco’s experience shows that process improvement is the key –and that this is achieved by workflow mapping and measurement.

IT Metrics in Statoil

Kjetil Tonstad’s paper asked ‘how companies can realize the value of their IT investment?’ Studies have shown that this is impossible without re-tooling business processes to adapt to the new possibilities offered by IT. Tonstad focused on the merits of ‘front-end’ data loading – i.e. getting data in a project ready format from vendors and government data sources. Other work has shown that ‘soft factors,’ such as employee values and behavior, are often overlooked when measuring IT performance. These studies have led to a ‘breakthrough’ in IT metrics – the field of ‘Information Orientation’ developed by IMD professor Don Marchand. Marchand uses the product of ‘Deployment’ and ‘Effective use’ to estimate the business value of IT.

Business Process Portals

According to Erik van Kuijk (Shell), ‘There’s more to data management than we thought in the 1990s.’ Shell’s latest analysis sees the workplace as a factory for work products. Unfortunately, many workers don’t realize that everyone has ‘customers’ and fail to produce the right work products, leading to wasted effort and inefficiency. van Kuijk suggested that a rational division of labors would be around 30% on people, 30% on process, 30% on KID and work products and only 10% on tools. Today’s ‘people’ challenges include ‘balancing individual freedom against the interests of the Enterprise’, functional silos continue to cause problems as does a ‘lack of integrated thinking’. Other issues include poor definitions affecting process management, too many databases and applications and poor knowledge sharing. Today, it can take a year to implement required system changes. van Kuijk reasons that ‘if we can react in one week, this will give Shell a competition advantage.’ This can be done by taking the business logic out of the IT system so that it can be changed as required. Such an approach is described as ‘Business Process Management’ (BPM), where processes are managed as a portfolio, providing a unified framework for enterprise. Business Processes can be stored in a database a.k.a. the ‘meta KID repository’. Shell’s global well delivery process was identified as a candidate for automating the business process. This has resulted in a ‘global well portal’ built using SAP xIEP, Netweaver-based xApps for the upstream (see last month’s Oil IT Journal).

ENI’s data life-cycle

Mario Marco Fiorani outlined ENI’s objectives as ‘to speed data preparation and allow more time for analysis’. ENI has a ‘federation’ of databases, with a corporate master database (CDB) in Milan. The CDB holds interpretation results, entitlement information and real data from countries ‘at data risk’. Other federated databases are deployed in the North Sea and North Africa. Access is through the MyENI SAP portal which offers tabular, hierarchical or GIS-based data access. Both Landmark’s PowerExplorer and Schlumberger’s DecisionPoint are deployed as sub-portals in ENI’s system – leveraging XML data links to PetroBank and the Schlumberger Data Management Center (DMC). ENI also offers ASP data delivery to remote units.

GIS in Shell

Roger Abel, gave an update on Shell’s global ESRI-based GIS data management initiative. GIS is a ‘great front end’ for E&P data search, offering an 80% hit rate. This can be increased by using natural language and full text. Catalogs and taxonomies, which imply consistent publishing, are another way forward. Shell’s GIS deployment can be accessed through Schlumberger’s DecisionPoint or the SAP Portal (which also has ESRI-based GIS). Spatial is expensive in IT overhead. Shell would like to use Open GIS, but this is not realistic today. Problems arise from the vagueness of some spatial information: Is a well a surface location or a 3D track? What is the spatial extent of an oil field? What geodetics were used? To answer such questions requires a good understanding of data and geodetics. A trawl of Shell’s well data bases found that the main issues were with different coordinate reference systems (CRS). Projects have been known to ‘run for weeks’ with the wrong CRS! ESRI’s GIS solutions have proved ‘the most complex Windows application that Shell has scripted for global deployment’. Shell’s standard legend ‘symbology’ is to be released digitally into the public domain via the EPSG. In Shell ‘nothing happens without a SAP entry,’ so there is a GIS to SAP link key for assets. A map showing flow lines in Oman can be used to generate an SAP work order, which can be sent out to teams in the field. Other Shell GIS initiatives include IHS Energy data in ESRI’s Arc Globe, a ‘biodiversity’ tool and a database of global prospects and leads.

Data Quality

Paul Gregory, Intervera, cited a Gartner survey of data quality which showed that ‘1 in 4 pieces of information is flawed’. Moreover, 50% of data warehouses will experience ‘limited acceptance or failure’. Another survey (Deloitte Consulting Upstream Data Quality) found that ‘despite POSC, PPDM, various conferences and organizations, good data management is still hard to implement.’ One problem is trying to convince the CIO to spend non-allocated funds. An internal Intervera study found users did not trust the data quality of one drilling and completion application. The solution was DataVera’s ‘Health Check’ data quality tool.

WITSML update

John Shields (Baker Hughes) recapped WITSML’s history and purpose (see our report on page 3 of this issue). The big news in WITSML is the arrival of Version 1.3. This now points to the EPSG website for geodetic information. A new well log object is designed to replace LIS or DLIS, ‘old standards, getting to the end of their life’. This uses XML text for bulk data. WITSML uses simple zip compression, resulting in a file density comparable to a LIS binary. Some web servers and browsers perform compression themselves. A ‘Risk object’ has been added to help well planners flag zones of potential hazard, to report ‘incidents and risks.’ Units of measure validation is part of the V1.3 schema.


Paul Maton (POSC) enumerated the proliferating ‘standards’ for well path information which POSC is to ‘bring together’. POSC recommends adoption of the EPSG coordinate reference system, itself a component of ISO TC/211. A well actually needs three CRSs, local, geodetic horizontal CRS and geodetic elevation CRS. The EPSG offers 2,700 CRS and 1,100 transforms. A web-based service is planned for Q4 2005. UKOOA P7/2000 is to be embedded in the commercial release of WITSML V1.3 and will include planned and post-processed well paths.


Malcolm Fleming, OBE (CDA) reminded UK license holders, ‘past and present,’ of their ‘permanent legal obligation to provide seismic and well data to the government in any format, at any time from now to eternity.’ The UK National Hydrocarbon Data Archive was set up to remove this perpetual obligation by building a permanent digital archive of UK data. Companies who provide data to the Archive will be absolved of their data liabilities to the government. The NHDA has run into familiar data banking problems such as entitlements and obligations, especially when a license is sold on. Other issues arise with seismic group shoot data. Data modeling is problematical with disconnects between well, permit, seismics etc. These are mostly due to a historical failure to use consistent names for wells, surveys, etc. and to poor record keeping. The DTI is to launch a definitive license data base this year and will be issuing new guidelines to reinforce naming standards. Archive costs have been around £4,000 per well with baseline storage for the same data at around £900-£2,000. Despite a 2-5 year payback, business drivers are weak because of the voluntary nature of the process. BG has archived 1 well to date; others (BP, CTC, Shell, Total) are to start archiving in 2005.

This article has been taken from a 13 page report produced as part of The Data Room‘s Technology Watch Reporting Service. More from

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