Sixth Middle East IM Forum, Kuwait

Data management and information management (DM/IM) in the Middle East countries is different. First because it has much more of a production focus that in Europe or the USA. Second, because Middle East National Oil Companies have taken the long term view. If building a corporate data store for fields with hundreds of wells and decades of production history means a five year plan, with allocation of people, training and finance, then that is what happens. Kuwait Oil Co. (KOC) has over 1,000 users of its Finder database with projects ongoing for data quality, SCADA integration, data mining, decision support and automated data capture. Finder database has cornered the data store market for Middle East NOCs. This is both a great achievement and a potential embarrassment for Schlumberger which is in the process of trying to wean its clients off Finder and onto Seabed. An animated debate at the close of the conference showed that this will not be easy.

Mahmoud Shideed traced Saudi Aramco’s 25 year history of database deployment. The first implementation was an Informatics Mark IV database in the 1970s. In the 1980s, as the Mark IV became unmanageable, data was migrate to an IBM M204 system, itself superseded by an Oracle RDBMS in 1996. Aramco offers users ‘complete, usable, validated data that adheres to naming convention standards.’ Aramco’s other data/KM projects include Drilling Knowledge, Production Real Time Monitor and WellCount (well data drill down). Challenges include growing data volumes—especially real time data and the ‘art of new technology adoption’.

Excel to Avocet

Adwait Chawathé (Chevron) described IM at Joint Operations in the partitioned neutral zone (PNZ) between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. PNZ Production is un-metered at the wellhead. Groups of wells are pumped from subcenters to the main gathering center where flow is metered and back allocated to individual wells. The IM project set out to determine well uptimes and to better leverage well test data. The legacy system comprised an in-house developed production allocation (PA) system based on Microsoft Access and SIS’ OFM. The IM project set out to remove ‘general purpose’ software like Excel and Access and migrate to an SIS solution leveraging Avocet and FieldBA (back allocation), all tightly coupled with Finder. The result is a 2 hrs per day reduction in production data entry and a day gain in back allocation. One cynic asked why so much information was collected and if any more oil had been produced. Chawathé responded that the daily deferred oil report showed, for instance, which wells were down and allowing critical failures to be fixed, putting oil back on stream quickly.

Production data management

Ahmad Al-Hamdan described production data management at the Al-Khafji Joint Operations (KJO). First set up in 1961 by the Arabian Oil Co. KJO is now a Saudi Aramco/KOC joint venture producing 300,000 bbl/day from 250 offshore wells in two main fields, Khafji and Hout. The old production data management system (PDMS) was IBM AS 400-based. A lot of faxing and printing was involved, creating data duplication and inefficiencies. The new system is built around SIS’ Avocet DM, and OFM running on Sun Servers and a LAN on the gathering station. The project included Finder model building and data loading, web access and training. It is now easy to generate KJO’s official daily monthly and annual reports. Everything connects to KJO’s corporate Finder repository.

Data mining

For Ahmed Abou-Sayed (Informateks), ‘data mining is set to become a tough competitor for simulation.’ Data mining derives system dynamics from historical data. The study investigated key parameters for produced water injection (PWRI) on an offshore field. Informateks used 10 years of production dynamic data to build a ‘behavioral model’. This technique was tested by keeping some well data ‘secret’ from the process. The results showed a ‘remarkable, almost embarrassingly good agreement with reality’. The study showed that the operator could drill shorter horizontal wells with the same results—a $50 million saving. Following verification of the results by engineers and physicists, the study is extending to voidage replacement and sweep efficiency. Data mining was deemed ‘a powerful tool’.

Performance management

Rajendra Kular (KOC) described performance management of the Minagish field, Western Kuwait. KOC uses a panoply of applications in the field’s management—Eclipse, Petrel, VIP, MBAL, Prosper, Kappa etc. Data stores include Finder, LogDB, OFM and the ERP system. Half of Minagish’s wells are on electrical submerged pumps (ESP). ESPs need intensive monitoring to maximize run life. A revamp of Minagish, including a significant data management component, has led to a production hike from 80, to the present 210k bbl/day—mainly due to better voidage replacement. ESP run life is up from 1.5 to 2.75 years. Subsurface teams, well planners and reservoir engineers ‘all benefit from reliable, up to date data’.

Data forms

Saad Al-Hajeri decribed how KOC has developed a range of data access and reporting front end interfaces to its Finder corporate data store. KOC was experiencing problems with inflexibility of form-based interfaces. It was hard to export data to desktop applications and KOC was unhappy with the aging Oracle Developer 6i technology. A move to web-based forms became an attractive option with the dramatic rise in internet literacy. Web pages and hyperlinks ‘shield users from Unix.’ Now an Oracle 8i database serves data to a ‘business tier’ running on Oracle 10gAS. Forms were migrated by recompiling in Oracle 10g. Oracle’s WebUtil library proved an easy way to achieve client side integration running Oracle Forms on the web. Schlumberger’s DecisionPoint, a component of KOC’s GeoPortal is now used for reporting. Future work will enhance forms with a move from Applet to native HTML/JSP/Java with the Oracle JDeveloper tool.

GIS in the oil industry

Eyad Arab, OpenWare, described KOC’s use of standard oil and pipeline data models. These are integrated with Finder and ZMap to representing wells, production facilities and many more specialist objects. CAD data has been loaded along with GIS layers for brackish water, gathering centers, bund walls—KOC’s GIS has over 100 layers. GIS data is integrated with KOC’s asset management system for operations. Finder is used for production and well information. Well surveillance is performed with ESRI’s real time Tracking Server. This tracks moving objects (vehicles) on a live map and can also represent time variant data from a stationary object (like a SCADA data source) as changes in color. GIS has public relations applications and is used to overlay proposed developments with satellite data for land permitting, pipeline management, fire, etc. An oil pits cleaning project was facilitated by satellite imagery. KOC’s project management system is based around a GIS integrated with the FileNet HSE system.

Results Manager

Peter Webb presented the new data management functionality in Schlumberger’s ProSource. Schlumberger wants to give Petrel and Eclipse users a ‘push button’ save like Microsoft Excel. ProSource Results Manager currently covers seismic interpretations from file-based systems like Petrel. This will later be extended to wells, geology etc. ProSource lets users browse project data, capture interpretation results, adding context and metadata and store to Seabed. Information Management for Petrel is evolving from simple deployment for a few users to a multi user Seabed-based asset team. IM for Petrel is due for release in Q1 2006. This new Petrel plug in will run project scans at regular intervals allowing for archival of project snapshots in ProSource. Webb demoed a prototype ‘Petrel Tree’ which will allow for fine control of archival granularity. Commenting some of the new Schlumberger data management functionality, KOC queried the multiple changes in the SIS portfolio—from Finder to Seabed, to ProSource, to eSearch etc. ‘These are great, but they are affecting our psychology and complicating interaction with other vendors.’ Webb countered that SIS does work with third parties—such as ESRI, IronMountain, Documentum and Oracle.

Collaboration session

KOC’s concerns were amplified in the collaboration session that wound up the conference. A KOC spokesperson stressed that data management ‘requires stability.’ Referring to the new Seabed database, KOC commented, ‘We don’t want a new product name, this has a bad effect on employees who have trained and are now used to Finder. SIS should have more user involvement in its product strategy. SIS should concentrate on improving Finder. Much in the way that Microsoft has evolved Excel—it just gets better over time. The Seabed issue is a big concern for our planning effort where we have a 6-8 year horizon.’ While there is support for the Seabed concept, its introduction has alarmed clients who have done a lot of work on the Finder interface. Schlumberger’s Brice Bouffard defended SIS’ strategy saying ‘We are moving to Seabed because we believe it is a better tool that will make our users’ lives easier. Seabed is a fantastic new data model and already has buy-in from government entities and is ready for deployment.’ KOC suggested forming a committee of GCC users, ‘So that SIS can keep us in the picture regarding new products and so that we can liaise without waiting on the Forum to come around.’

This article has been taken from a 9 page report produced as part of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Research Service. For more information on this service please email

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