ECIM - Norway’s Data Management Conference

Around 200 attended the 11th Expert Center for Information Management (ECIM) conference in Haugesund, Norway this month. ECIM began life as the DISKOS user group and is now Norway’s premier data management event with strong backing from industry and government. We report on talks from POSC, ExxonMobil, Statoil and BP’s Norwegian unit.

The new POSC president and CEO, Randy Clark kicked off the proceedings with his thoughts on a ‘new look’ POSC. POSC is to ‘renew’ its focus on standards; involving others including horizontal IT providers such as Intel and Microsoft—while maintaining an E&P focus. In the area of ‘intelligent energy’ there is a need for more digital standards that link to strategy and offer a ‘compelling value proposition’. ‘We need to make sure that SAP et al don’t get ahead of us in data transfer standards!’


Clark sees PRODML as a ‘short cut’ to the field of the future, with terabytes of data streaming in from fields. This was illustrated with a use case in gas lift optimization—real time optimization changes ‘saw tooth’ manual optimization to a smooth production curve near to the theoretical optimum. Finally, Clark announced that POSC has signed a letter of intent with IHS Energy and major operators to offer a well identity service. Participating oils have agreed to make their data public.


Under its new leadership, POSC is re-branding, with a new mission and a new image. All will be revealed at the November 8 public meeting in Houston. Clark did reveal that the organization ‘will not be called POSC any more’.


Grahame Blakey described ExxonMobil as a mature GIS user whose experience goes back to the 1980s. A company like ExxonMobil has to manage a large GIS ‘database’—in reality, thousands of files in the UNIX file system. These are mostly correctly stored but it only takes a few errors and things fall apart and for users to ask—‘where is my structure map?’ Data management and cleanup are a necessity even though they are neither glamorous nor necessarily a career path of choice.

Rocket fuel

If data is the rocket fuel of GIS then metadata is the engine oil. A fully defined coordinate reference system is an absolute must. Scale of capture is important as a pencil line is 1km wide at a one to one million scale. It can be hard to decide which metadata standards to use. ExxonMobil strikes a balance between exhaustiveness and what can be easily captured. Exxon is in the process of building an enterprise GIS, starting by porting vendor data to ESRI’s ArcSDE and building its system around an ArcSDE repository with ArcGIS-based data management. Robust data management is the key to making it all happen. Cleanup and metadata capture are fundamental prerequisites.

Instant gratification

David Holmes (Halliburton) questions whether all of the data volume explosion is ‘true’ or more accurately, how much of the estimated 40% annual growth in disk storage requirements is self inflicted. Network Attached Storage (NAS) offers ‘instant gratification’ as it is now cheaper to add storage than to hire a data manager. By storing a multiplicity of seismic data volumes we are creating a nightmare for the future.

Big iron

Observing the rapid increase in server capacity, Holmes anticipates a return to ‘Big Iron’ information management solutions built around large server computers. By 2009, the Norwegian DISKOS databank—whose operations will then return to Landmark—will have provision for 8 petabytes of near line storage.

ISO 15926

Thore Langeland, of Norway’s OLF oil and gas trade body, sees the ISO 15926 plant data taxonomy as the lynchpin of next generation real time infrastructure. POSC/CAESAR standards and the TampNett offshore digital infrastructure are ready to support advanced workflows. . But, according to Langeland, ‘We need a complete new set of software to cope with this environment’. To support cross silo XML data sharing, OLF is leveraging the World Wide Web Consortium’s ‘W3C’ Semantic Web and Web Ontolgy Language (OWL). OLF is working on Integrated Work processes across onshore and offshore centers, continuous onshore support. For Langeland, ‘It is time to stop ad hoc approaches in data standardization.’

Quiet revolution

Liv Maeland described Statoil’s ‘quiet revolution,’ the use of real time data feeds to control drilling and production operations remotely. According to Statoil’s program manager, Adolfo Henriquez, integrated operations means ‘bringing the data to the experts instead of taking the experts to the data’. Statoil’s Sansli Operations Control Center (OSC) now supports faster, better and safer decision making for an average of 6 concurrent drilling operations.

Robust data management

Working in real time mandates robust data management. Here, key enablers are automation and compliance that assure complete, consistent and properly organized data in real time. In the past, users targeted speed of data use, leaving naming conventions for later. This is not an option for real time.


Today’s data standards focus on data not compliance—creating problems for suppliers who provide real time data differently. Statoil now includes data transfer protocols in its standards. Maeland was pleased to note that statistics on data errors caused by service companies show considerable improvement over the last year. Service companies are getting better at performing QC/QA close to the point of acquisition.

Valhall LoFS

Olav Barkved presented BP’s groundbreaking life of field seismic (LoFS) installation on the Valhall field. The permanent seismic recording equipment installed on the sea bed provides time lapse ‘4D’ seismic images of the reservoir for a growing ‘customer’ base. A cyclical workflow of acquisition, analysis, modeling, prediction has been developed around the new tool. Semi quantitative results from the 4 component time lapse data is used to plan wells and workovers.


BP believes there is significant potential to increase recovery through the LoFS approach. To date, seven surveys have been acquired over the seabed array which comprises 120 km of cables and 2,504 groups of 4C sensors spanning some 45 sq. km. Between acquisition, passive recording of the array monitors frac jobs and microseismic events. In what is described as an ‘advanced completion technology milestone,’ Weatherford’s Clarion Seismic downhole fiber optic seismic system is used in VSP imaging beneath the gas cloud.

Data management

Life of Field Seismic creates its own special data management problems with a survey size in the 4-7 terabyte range. Interpretation workflows have created some 500 volumes and 600 attribute maps. Such datasets are not amenable to menu driven interpretation so BP has developed an automated interpretation workflow, with limited user input.

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