Chevron floats ‘Oilfield Ontology Repository’ proposal

At the quaintly titled ‘Semantic Days’ Conference in Norway earlier this year, Chevron researcher Frank Chum described what the W3C/Semantic Web community hopes will become the next ‘big’ application for Semantic Web technology (OITJ March 2004). Chum’s paper, ‘a survey of semantic web technology in the oil and gas industry’ outlined a future Open Oilfield Ontology Repository (O3R) project with backing from Chevron, Exxon and Total that sets out to ‘collect public oil and gas ontologies and make them freely available to the industry at large.’


Oil country data exists in both structured (database) and semi-structured forms (spreadsheets and documents). A new approach is needed to deal with this flood of information and its heterogeneous formats. For major capital projects information needs to be standardized and integrated across systems, disciplines and organizational boundaries. The semantic web promises a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries, leveraging ‘machine-operational declarative specification of the meaning of terms based on the Resource Description Framework (RDF).’

ISO 15926

Oil country examples of semweb technology include Fluor Corp.’s Accelerating Deployment of ISO 15926 project targeting information handover of data throughout a plant’s life cycle, the Norwegian Daily Production Report project (currently under test on Hydro’s Åsgård field), the Active Knowledge Systems for Integrated Operations (AKSIO) project (knowledge management support for offshore drilling) and the Integrated Information Platform (IIP) project (OITJ Dec 04). For Chum, Ontologies provide ‘a shared understanding of data within a domain, and allow for better interoperability of information systems.’


The mooted Open Oilfield Repository (O3R) portal will provide search, navigation and delivery of the underlying resources via a process called ‘ontology-driven information retrieval.’ This betters current search techniques by decoupling the portal navigation from the semantics. Ontology-driven navigation supports serendipitous discovery, advanced drill down and aggregation of structured and unstructured information. The O3R is to leverage semantic web services embedded into OWL-S.

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