Oil ITJ Interview—Charles Fried, BP

Charles Fried, BP GIS guru and ESRI PUG luminary told Oil IT Journal that BP’s disparate GIS community has ‘seen the light,’ captures GIS metadata and is reaping the mapping rewards.

OITJ—What’s hot in GIS?

Fried—GIS in exploration and development is really picking up. Regulations are driving GIS use in the pipeline industry.

OITJ—Where is BP regarding ‘dumb’ Shapefiles vs. live maps?

Fried—We use both. There is some live data but layers can be updated on a regular basis. BP is very decentralized, and I’m trying to find out what’s going on myself! We have a BP GIS meet in parallel with the PUG. There is a push to standardize on Arc 9, and a focus on pipeline HCA* and maintenance. A lot is happening in upstream too—half of the top ten GIS users in Houston are geoscientists. GIS enables software and data integration that can’t be done with Landmark’s tools. In development, GIS links surface information with environment data.

OITJ—But Landmark embeds ESRI?

Fried—Yes and no. OpenExplorer embeds ArcView 3.2. This five year old technology has not evolved. It’s good at supplying Shapefiles to other applications. Schlumberger’s Finder does a better job—it is spatially enabled with SDE.

OITJ—What’s BP’s take on web services?

Fried—We’re not doing much here. This needs a top down approach to infrastructure. Our Houston server is a stand-alone machine—and we don’t have ArcIMS.

OITJ—What are your current projects?

Fried—I see GIS as the ‘Microsoft Office’ of mapping and as a part of the move away from data stored in disparate Excel spreadsheets. ArcMap and ArcCatalog have been very significant. You can ‘mix and match’ projections on the fly—in the Gulf of Mexico you can drop metric data in one CRS** onto a second projection in feet. Now geoscientists are publishing their own metadata along with layers—they have ‘seen the light’. Users make a map, park it on the server—as a Shapefile or increasingly in SDE. This helps retrieval and saves on data maintenance.

OITJ—Do you do geoprocessing?

Fried—We tried using Spatial Analyst to build a risk-based mapping system. This didn’t work out. We ended up doing our own development with ArcObjects. This resulted in a standard way of analyzing risk for prospects—a simple risk system. OITJ—What about the 3D debate?

Fried—ESRI has built a great 2D integration platform that works. Now they are getting serious about 3D.

OITJ—Will we see 3D seismics in ESRI?

Fried—Not for a while. But this is where the debate is going. Today ESRI offers 2D—bits of the puzzle are missing. Hence the importance of the PUG 3D Working Group which provides user input and influences ESRI’s future directions.

* High consequence analysis (locating populated areas near pipelines).

* Coordinate reference system.

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