Shell 123DI out of closet

Shell took the wraps off its in-house developed Technical Information System, the impressive 123DI seismic interpretation package, at the AAPG International Conference in Paris this month.

To the chagrin of parts of the vendor community, Shell has eschewed the ‘buy not build’ philosophy for the last twenty years. Shell believes that developing its own interpretation technology gives it a competitive edge in both the bidding process and in geotechnical analysis. The 123DI demo was pretty impressive, showing an Asian 3D data set with a 70 km long meandering channel and spectacular mud volcanics.

Pock marks

Moving around the dataset revealed intriguing pock marks on the sea bed with evidence of explosive mud ejection. 123DI is a cross between GeoProbe and Google Earth, navigating massive datasets in memory. 123DI is being shown as a recruitment aid and to showcase what Shell perceives as a ‘competitive advantage.’ The in-house technology brings developers and researchers closer together—shortening development cycle times and allowing Shell’s geo-boffins to ‘try things out.’


We asked Shell’s VR Center Coordinator Marc Bevaart how the software compared with Landmark’s Geoprobe. Bevaart explained, ‘123DI is not primarily voxel-based. Its display combines different methods, x,y,z maps of events and horizons, tri-mesh displays, lines for wells paths, polygonal objects, contours and, of course, voxels. But we do not deploy the ‘probe’ technology of Magic Earth as such, although we do offer similar functionality thanks to the underlying Mercury/TGS Open Inventor library.’


The demo at the AAPG was on a Sun Blade 2500 workstation (a Linux port is underway) and a SGI-based 3D version for CAVE/curved screen environments. 123DI embeds Earth Decision Sciences’ GoCad and Open Inventor from TGS/Mercury. 123DI can read data from Landmark’s OpenWorks, Schlumberger’s Charisma and other industry tools such as Jason’s Workbench.


123DI supports plug-in applications from third parties and Shell’s own researchers. The software also interfaces with the major commercial interpretation packages. One in-house developed plug-in is the ‘FaultWorld’ semi-automatic fault extraction package—the subject of a presentation by Shell’s Jos Terken. Shell uses the technology to turn fault picks into ‘stopper voxels’ which can be broadcast to 123DI for further analysis.


Shell’s showing of 123DI at a tradeshow makes a welcome change from its usual recruiting technique—offering geoscientists a chance to change a tire on a Formula One Ferrari. Motor racing, the ultimate hedonistic/gas guzzling sport, seems strangely out of kilter with Shell’s new image, sending a bizarre message to today’s ‘environmentally sensitive’ youngsters—see our editorial..

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