2005 PESGB Data Management SIG

A decade ago, unclean data, mostly in the form of inconsistent well names, plagued the data management community, but nobody else seemed to care. Paras’ Hamish Wilson suggested that today, compliance issues are renewing interest in technical to business data integration and are forcing IT departments to clean up their data act. Neil McNaughton’s presentation on upstream standards showed that while there have been failures, the oil and gas is a ‘serial early adopter’ of new technology. Other presentations covered the impact of freedom of information legislation, gravity data management in Shell and a novel data store developed for the WAHA Oil Co., Libya.

The Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain’s Data Management Special Interest Group’s biennial meeting in London last month covered the UK’s various data repositories, DEAL, CDA and the NHDA in more depth than we can reasonably cover here. Suffice it to say that if a country’s E&P success was judged by the number of data initiatives, then the UK would be a world-leader.


Paras’ CEO Hamish Wilson’s thesis is that good data management (DM) underpins company performance management. Whether a company is trying to link well data across financial and production reporting systems or is focusing on production reporting and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance, data management is proving ‘a tad more important than in the past.’ Wilson’s top down analysis starts by asking, ‘What does the business worry about?’ The answer is, HSE, production rates, reserves, OPEX and CAPEX. All of which link technical and business systems. Wilson uses a return on investment (ROI) tree to show how DM affects earnings. ‘It is all about making sure that capital is spent on the best opportunities.’ Here, accurate evaluations are ‘all about data,’ linking backward-looking financial systems with forward-looking production systems like Peep or Merak.

Twin sets

But even with good technology, management is frequently confronted with two sets of numbers, from finance and from production metrics. Pressure is also coming from the SEC which is now much more prescriptive about reporting numbers, cutting into the reserve calculation data flows, from the subsurface to the ‘Excel domain’. While it may be possible to answer the SOX ‘show me?’ question with production decline data it may be harder to track which simulator run, seismic line and well picks were used, although it may be a moot point whether we will be asked for such information. Wilson concluded that DM’s profile has been raised by SOX. ‘Without data you are just another guy with an opinion.’

Oil IT Journal

Oil IT Journal editor Neil McNaughton traced some of the major upstream standards initiatives of the last few years including the ‘soap operas’ of POSC vs. PPDM, data model wars, business objects and OpenSpirit. This active field has known failure (Epicentre, Project Synergy) but has also been a proving ground for new technologies, from CORBA to XML. McNaughton warned against the ‘blind assumption’ that a standard is a good thing and that standardization projects fail ‘because of lack of take up.’ Standards are more likely to fail because they are not up to the job, or they are poorly planned or implemented. Most of all, standards need to fulfill a genuine need. Commenting on the long running battle between PPDM and POSC over a ‘reference upstream database,’ McNaughton concluded that while POSC won the communications battle, PPDM won on the technology front as its data model underpins many commercial and in-house projects.

Stuart Robinson, UK DTI

Robinson described the government’s past data management culture as ‘keep lots of data, never use it and don’t look after it.’ The situation has changed thanks to a variety of initiatives such as UK PILOT, DEAL, the UK Oil Portal and CDA. Robinson, now on the POSC board, believes that ‘e-Fields are happening. There is a big push to store and share production data,’ hence the WITSML-derived PRODML standard. Robinson also made passing mention of other e-government initiatives such as SeaFish, Vantage (helicopter seat booking), People on Board offshore installations and the environmental EEMS registry, which is ‘struggling to go live.’ Robinson encouraged data managers to get interested in and develop standards for the e-field—but warned that companies who boast of data as ‘a priceless asset’ are not telling the truth.

Ash Johnson, Geosoft

Shell has large amounts of data on Fieldbank (jointly developed by Ark Geophysics and the BGS), in Oracle and SDE. End-user tools include Geosoft’s Oasis Montaj, ArcGIS and seismic interpretation systems like Petrel. Geosoft’s data access protocol (DAP) is ‘a kind of OpenSpirit for potential field data.’ DAP helps organize geophysical data catalogs and large datasets. DAP is used across Geosoft Montaj data browser, ArcGIS, MapInfo and the acQuire API (a mining industry standard).

Paul Duller, Tribal Technology

The public has the right to ask for and receive ‘anything’ from the UK government except information whose disclosure would not be in the public interest or that is covered by privacy legislation. The US has had a FOI Act for several decades. Companies may be affected by this act in respect of environment issues. Because of the risk of disclosure, Duller advises circumspection as to what companies record in email and other systems and what is offered up to government bodies by way of reporting.


Muhammad Tahseen has developed a novel methodology for E&P data management (DM) in a project performed for the Libyan WAHA Oil Company. Tahseen’s brief was to investigate WAHA’s DM requirements and prepare an implementation plan. Tahseen has recommended a digitization program and the knowledge enablement of WAHA’s data for the widest possible audience. Tasheen argues against an ‘all-encompassing’ data model and in favor of simple files and a data hierarchy. Physical data is kept near to data owners and users. Data is owned and managed by the department that uses the data. Bulk data is stored nearline on a DVD robot that cost 1/10th of tape robotics. It has taken about a year to give four departments a data ‘facelift’. A geoscience technology overhaul is also underway.

This article has been taken from a longer report produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Reporting Service. More from tw@oilit.com.

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