IQPC Middle East Data Management, Bahrain

IQPC’s first Middle East data and knowledge management conference confirmed the methodical approach adopted by National Oil Companies to preserving information assets. We report on data initiatives from Saudi Aramco, Kuwait Oil Co. Woodside and Shell’s Oman unit. A speaker from OPEC described the JODI data initiative to increase transparency and aid market stability.

Tawfeeq AlFaraj described Saudi Aramco’s ongoing effort to preserve 70 years worth of E&P data. Saudi Aramco (SA) has had an in-house geodata library since the 1930s. The current project involved indexing and scanning all SA’s legacy exploration data, giving online access to geoscientists. Data is being centralized in a single EDMS. SA’s EDM Department’s role is to index, scan, QC and make data available. Despite the challenges in handling such a huge, disorganized, legacy data set, the project has resulted in a set of high quality, indexed and accessible scanned images in TIF format. This has expedited SA’s exploration and delineation process and safeguarded 70 years of Aramco’s history, improving data discovery and adding value to the dataset—for example by locating orphaned or lost data items such as valuable uphole seismic records. Documentum and Oracle were key technology providers. UK-based Spectrum provides the scanning services (see page 4).


Baqer Bahbahani described the use of Hyperion’s business intelligence and reporting package to manage and analyze production data from Kuwait Gulf Oil Co.’s Al Khafji Joint Operations (KJO) unit. Previously, multiple data sources and stores meant there was no single source of truth and no standard formats. KJO’s IT stack now includes a customized PowerBuilder front end, Schlumberger’s Avocet, FieldView, OFM and Finder. A Sybase replication server links to Hyperion’s Business Intelligence Performance Suite. Dashboards have been created for individual users. Operators see a PowerBuilder generated web ‘sheet’ that looks just like the paper they are used to. Schlumberger’s FieldBA is used for back allocation, again with a Sybase front end. Upon project completion, KJO joint venture partner Chevron’s CIO saw this system and acknowledged that it was ‘world class.’ Bahbahani’s aim is to make getting data ‘as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.’ The production-focused EPDM project has a $2.7 million budget with an expected three year payout for its 50 users.


Al-Zayer outlined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) efforts to enhance the transparency of worldwide oil data. OPEC believes that transparency aids market stability, decision making and investment. Today, perhaps $15/barrel of the oil price is due to a lack of market transparency. OPEC now offers oil production data from its website. A Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI) offers a ‘dialog’ between consumer and producer nations and sets out to ‘calm down the marketplace’. JODI involves OPEC, APEC, Eurostat, IEA, OLADE and UNSD. OPEC has noted some issues with the established oil data vendors, ‘We give out this data for free, so some don’t want us to succeed.’


Evert Ruijs of Shell’s Petroleum Development Oman unit described the increasing complexity of PDO’s operations with a move from the ‘easy’ anticlines in the north of the country to the complex geology. This has brought a greater reliance on infill drilling, water and steam injection and improved information management. But while Shell’s IM investment has brought bandwidth, high end workstations and visualization centers, an information and data management ‘gap’ remains. In a reversal of strategy, PDO is returning to central storage with the recognition that ‘You can’t have data all over the place’. QC procedures and standards assure data flows from one place to another. Today, when data is in DIMS, it is also in OpenWorks and Petrel. Seamless integration and the ability to propagate change are the key. PDO has successfully raised the profile of IM which is no longer an ivory tower, but embedded in the business. Today a job is not considered complete unless data is loaded and signed off. IM, like HSE, ‘needs to be in the hearts and minds of the business.’


Khaled Chiri (Woodside) reported that world-wide knowledge doubles every 5 years. From 2010 it is forecast to double every month. Woodside is aiming for a workplace learning environment where within 6-18 months of hire, workers have picked up the essentials. Communities of practice provide enabling technology and are used to build a knowledge-sharing culture – although an earlier project produced silos of best practices. Woodside has now moved to a cross-company knowledge management system with the process owned by top management. COPs are voluntary – but folks are strongly encouraged to join. Knowledge sharers are rewarded. Woodside has created an ‘ask questions’ culture.

Saudi Aramco

Abdullah Al Shahwan described how Saudi Aramco’s knowledge management (KM) effort is ‘bringing order to the chaos of the info-glut’. KM technologies include content management, search engines, document management systems and collaboration through virtual rooms, communities and forums. Saudi Aramco uses the SAP KM system and collaboration rooms, the eWay web-based knowledge sharing and subscription management. LiveLink, web services and Documentum underpin Aramco’s Technical Information System and Ideas Base. A move to the SAP enterprise portal is planned with single sign on for multiple systems and applications.

Common data model?

A round table on software integration was summarized by Schlumberger’s Victor Lunard. Integration is not a technology issue, even though it is always approached as such! We should look to processes as driving solutions, mapping processes such as prospect generation. Then see what integration is needed to support these. Users should be able to obtain database-independent applications running off a common data model. The common data model is ‘very important’. Industry has attempted this with POSC, PPDM and OpenSpirit. But commercial issues have prevented adoption of a ‘true unique data model’.

This article has been summarized from one of The Data Room’s Technology Watch Reports. More from

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