WITSML User Group Meeting

The Wellsite Information Transfer Standard Modeling Language (WITSML) has undeniable momentum. About 50 attended the public meeting in Paris late last year. WITSML’s is a ‘firewall-friendly’ data transfer mechanism between rig, onshore operations center and office. With endorsements from ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, Statoil and BP, WITSML is a modern IT solution, with a growing complement of tools available for developers. Vendors are releasing WITSML-based solutions, but their openness and interoperability are somewhat colored by commercial considerations.

Alan Doniger (POSC CTO) heads the POSC/WITSML Special Interest Group (SIG) which now has 30 company members. The XML and XSD schema have been released and an API is available for active servers or repositories. The big news in the WITSML community is the arrival of version 1.3. WITSML is expanding from its drilling origins and is to replace other early POSC MLs, including WellLogML.


Matthew Kirkman (BP) said that WITSML has succeeded in creating an active community to exchange drilling and completion data. It automates tasks leveraging new IT technologies such as data push, sharing between operators, contractors and partners. It is also impacting statutory reporting, trading and data input to partner databases. All this is done with a single ‘freely available’ standard. Today, deployment is restricted to the operational data store and applications – it has not yet seen take-up on the rig itself. WITSML is also limited to high cost wells. Kirkman wants WITSML to be ‘more ubiquitous.’ WITSML is ‘working toward’ a taxonomy – a common terminology for data and context movement, providing a history of what happened to a well bore. BP is also funding a project for the inclusion of time-based (daily report) data.


Danny Bush, ChevronTexaco, is a long time member of POSC but found that WITSML has proved to be ‘the most compelling business case/activity in the POSC portfolio’. CTC has been using a vendor’s WITSML server for deepwater drilling MWD/LWD projects. CTC is working with INT to develop a Microsoft .NET-based well bore data viewer.


Peter Nielsen described how Statoil is linking offshore wells to its onshore Stavanger base with all MWD, FEWD service providers connecting over a WITSML data exchange link. Engineers load depth based drilling data to project databases and the drilling database with Landmark’s OpenWire. 80 wells and side tracks have been loaded to date with up to 7 simultaneous operations. The system also allows time-based data to be loaded to the drilling database. Real time QA/QC is performed on deviation data. Future developments will include a notification system to alert users of new data, a streaming mode with a publish and subscribe mechanism, enhanced data rates and 24x7 real time operations.


For Robert Aydelotte, ExxonMobil’s Technical Computing (TC) infrastructure is about the ‘convergence of science, data and workflows’. TC is run by G&G, not computing – WITSML is a good example of workflow driven optimization, providing a generalized method for describing what data means – providing context, how to read/write and where it should be stored. ExxonMobil is developing a WITSML mud log object. Aydelotte also notes the need for standardization of well deviation data and recommends a European Petroleum Survey Group-based representation of well locations and well bore paths including geodetic transform and processing requirements. POSC’s Well Schematic ML was developed a few years ago and thus pre-dates WITSML and XML schema. This has been updated and re-written in a WITSML style, allowing for planned and ‘as run’ data on tubulars, cementation, perforation, gas lift etc.


Stewart Robinson said that the UK regulator, the Department of Trade and Industry, is ‘interested’ in WITSML and could mandate its use for data exchange with industry. Robinson made a plea for better documentation of WITSML schemas. The DTI intends to deploy a UDDI, web services-based infrastructure for pre-application validation – checking metadata for wells, licensing through XML download and delivery to DTI.

Service Companies

Melissa Symmonds presented Schlumberger’s WITSML offering, a component of its ‘InterAct’ real-time drilling infrastructure. InterAct exposes mud, well-bore and log objects accessible through the WITSML API. Schlumberger applications including DataLink, Drilling Office, RT GeoSteering, Directional Drilling Toolbox, PorePressure, DrillViz and GeoFrame, are now WITSML-enabled. WITSML ‘is a key enabler’ of the Operations Support Center and ‘iCenter.’ In the Q&A, Symmonds said that third party data could, ‘with difficulty’, be hosted from the InterAct server. According to Sheldon Harbinson, Landmark is more accommodating to third party data in its OpenWire WITSML solution. This connects to Landmark’s Engineering Data Model (EDM), Open Works and GeoFrame. Open Wire is seen as the future of connectivity to Landmark’s Real Time Operations Center (RTOC). Landmark will add ‘a significant number’ of WITSML objects and is to provide an API for real time, bi-directional exchange with the EDM. This will be accessible through an EDM Applications Programming Interface (API) accessible to the WITSML community and exposing Landmark’s engineering data. John Shields outlined how Baker Hughes’ (BHI) RigLink aggregation server collects WITS and WITSML from BHI and third party feeds. This is exposed to the world as WITSML data, providing support to third party applications. A recent example of interoperability is KSI’s DrillWorks Predict connection via WITSML. Rune Skarbo’s company, Sense Intellifield, runs operations centers for BP, ConocoPhillips and Statoil. Sense’s WITSML building blocks ‘give customers ownership of their data’. Sense’s SiteCom V3.0 includes a real time database for curve data and a relational database for all other WITSML data.

Test Drive

WITSML has been a shot in the arm for interoperability, for the standards movement in general and has revitalized POSC. For those of you who, like us, want to try WITSML hands-on, visit http://w3.posc.org/demos/witsml/store_client/quickstart.html.

This article was taken from a 9 page report in The Data Room’s Technology Watch series. More from tw@oilit.com.

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