Society of Exploration Geophysicists 2006

OK there were big discoveries before Jack, but talk of a new sub-salt Gulf of Mexico play ‘that could boost the nation’s reserves by more than 50 percent,’ has moved conventional oil and seismic prospecting back into the limelight. Suddenly all the fancy new imaging technologies, and there are many, have found their justification and more. Acquisition fold and data volumes are rising constantly, shooting patterns are getting more and more exotic. The picture is the same on the processing front where pre stack wave equation migration on huge data volumes is leading to esoteric technologies like processing data on GPUs. We report from the SEG’s own Advanced Modeling Consortium, on Earth Vision’s new ‘CoViz’ vendor-independent data browser, on new Petrel plug-ins, Landmark’s soon-to-be released EZModel, Petris’ Semantic Designer and more.

Presentations from Mercury and HueSpace focused on different routes to high performance computing (HPC). Mercury is partnering with IBM on a Cell BE-based supercomputer which promises 16 TFLOPS in a 6 foot rack. HueSpace’s next generation technology eschews the Cell, and uses NVIDIA graphics cards for number crunching. Hue delivers an SDK with a prototyping interface.

Advanced modeling consortium

Bee Bednar (Panoramtech) reported little progress on the SEG’s attempt to build a 3D model in the style of the French Petroleum Institute’s earlier Marmousi model. The project appears to be finding it hard to raise adequate funding for a useful model that is to allow for stochastic seismic facies that can be warped into structural section and mild near surface velocity variations. Model design is underway and model execution gurus are investigating the hardware required. Current thinking is for a 40km x 40km x 10 km (60 GOM Blocks) area with a memory requirement of around 256GB. Costing an 8 cable survey over the model at 20 cent/flop/hour amounts to $2 million or 18 months of computing. The conclusion is that acoustic modeling is feasible but not elastic modeling. The consortium is now looking for cheaper Flops. The IBM Cell BE promises 460 GFlops, so models could run in four days. PGS, BHP Billiton, Total, CGG, Shell, Halliburton, Exxon, Western-Geco have all put $50k in the pot.

Earth Vision’s CoViz

EarthVision’s ‘CoViz’ was originally created for BP which needed a vendor-independent browser/viewer for seismic, well and reservoir simulation data. Queries from within CoViz can retrieve core data, well test reports etc. Earth Vision wants CoViz to become everyone’s ‘second viewer’ for checking to see if the ‘other world’ confirms their interpretation. The viewer and relevant data can be decoupled from the original data sources and taken into the field or for a partner meeting.


Mark Chidwick outlined some best practices for E&P information management (IM) that his company, eDecisions, has developed in collaboration with a large Canadian independent drilling some 1,200 wells per year. The operator was having problems keeping data in applications up to date and was experiencing issues with vendor data quality. The solution was to build trust through data governance, appointing a full time data custodian. Schlumberger’s ProSource was configured to apply business rules, for instance to check that bottom hole coordinates agree with the last point in the deviation survey. Data coming in from vendors was moved into SIS’ Finder which has a ‘rich set of business rules for maintaining data quality.’ Data was made visible to applications via Open Spirit. The IM pilot resulted in costs reduction as the 40,000 well database is now managed and QC’d by one person (down from 4). There was also more confidence in data and business decisions. Now geoscientists can build their own projects. Open Spirit connectivity was ‘the easiest part of project.’

Petrel plug-ins

Both Ikon Science and Headwave (previously Finetooth) have leveraged Schlumberger Information Solutions’ Ocean development kit to produce plug-ins for Petrel. Ikon is offering its rock physics based seismic modeling technology which can now be launched from inside Petrel. Finetooth is offering pre-stack data visualization from within Petrel. Data is compressed and decompressed with Hue Space’s technology before blending with Petrel’s OpenInventor canvas. The tool lets users compute an attribute on the whole pre stack dataset. Headwave has found the Ocean development environment to be ‘much more open than GeoFrame.’

EZ Model

Landmark lifted the veil a little on its new ‘EZ Model’ replacement for Power Model in a field development planning demo. Here, Geoprobe’s new framework construction tools were used to clean up faults and horizons for export to the ‘EZ Model’ earth modeler. EZ Model is due for release early 2007.

Rock & Fluid Canvas

Paradigm’s marketing literature asks the challenging question, ‘why not routinely convert seismic cubes into meaningful reservoir property volumes?’ Such is the intent of Paradigm’s Rock and Fluid Canvas 2007 and is part of Paradigm’s attempt to ‘get serious about integrating the macro realm of geophysics with the micro realm of petrophysics.’ In other words – a move from G&G to G&P. All tools in the suite are linked via Paradigm’s Epos infrastructure. Integration with Open Spirit is not yet a ‘done deal.’

Semantic Designer

CTO Jeff Pferd introduced Petris’ Semantic Designer, which leverages Petris’ patented ‘dynamic, common to all’ data model for integration. XSL mappings provide access to vendor data sources. The Semantic Designer, aka the semantic manager toolkit, hides the complexity of the XSL code from data managers. Pferd showed an OpenWorks 2003 database load leveraged the Semantic Designer for mappings, parsing and business rules for null values etc. According to Pferd, this represents a ‘step forward in standardizing taxonomies across the enterprise’ and for accessing geotechnical data in different vendor data stores.


SMT was demonstrating the scalability of it’s Kingdom Suite seismic interpretation package with a 10 million trace survey (PGS’ new Southern North Sea ‘megasurvey’). SMT in conjunction with UK-based Equipoise Software has released VelPak (aka Scott Pickford’s VelIT) an add on for time-depth conversion. VelPak uses velocities techniques developed by velocity guru Mahboub Al Chalabi.


Spectraseis’ HyMas is a passive recording system for capturing low frequencies, multi component data over a field. Spectraseis’ RIO software is used to process and interpret survey results. Results of seven land surveys currently underway in Brazil, Mexico, Libya and Austria will be used to tune the company’s algorithms before a potential market release of a processing suite next year. Shareholder Norsk Hydro has committed to a marine survey on the Norwegian Shelf in 2007. Passive seismic, aka seismic interferometry, is the subject of an Aramco-sponsored EAGE workshop in Dubai this month.

Rich and Wide

Our star of show (virtual) award this year goes to WesternGeco’s ‘rich azimuth’ towed streamer seismics. Mark Egan likened the problem of seismic imaging to that of viewing a spoon in a liquid-filled chunky English beer glass. For proper target illumination, many azimuths are acquired—some gained from shooting vessels on the flanks of the immense recording array. The shoot over BHP Billiton’s Shenzi field was performed in a spectacular rotary star pattern. Rich azimuth and multi vessel operations has brought a ‘huge improvement’ in subsalt imagery. WesternGeco is now planning to combine these techniques with ‘over/under’ acquisition using two superimposed streamers to separate up and down going wave fields.

United Devices

United Devices GridMP product virtualizes compute resources across workstations and clusters. GridMP optimizes under-used seismic clusters. A ‘meta scheduler’ operates across heterogeneous grid schedulers including SGE (Sun), PBS Altair/Open Source, LSF and HP. The system can also integrate (transparently) with utility ‘on demand’ computing outside of the firewall. GridMP is used by both Landmark and Schlumberger. UD is an active member of the OpenGrid Forum.


Enigma’s Project Archival System PARS has had a major upgrade with a re-write as a Java-based, cross platform tool. PARS 3 archives Kingdom and Petrel projects at project milestones. Project snapshots are captured to the PARS database along with project metadata. PARS also produces corporate thumbnails of OpenWorks projects.

This article has been taken from a 15 page illustrated report produced by The Data Room’s Technology Watch program. More information and sample reports from

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