World Business Research Digital E&P conference, Houston

Highlights from knowledge and data management presentations by Repsol-YPF, BP and Devon and ENI.

The first World Business Research Digital E&P Conference was held in Houston late last year. Repsol-YPF CIO Agustin Diz kicked off the proceedings with a personal journey through information management (IM) and a reflection on how the value of an IM project can be estimated. Valuations need to include the time taken to implement, customer expectations, risks and dependencies, resource requirements along with the return on investment. A simple scoring system is used, but weighting the individual scores requires a stakeholder consensus. Repsol-YPF has a portfolio of IM project proposals the big question is, which project is best for the company?

A framework is required that holds the relationships between drivers, project expenses and ‘income.’ This allows problem areas to be identified such as when there may be information loss due to a change of data ownership and the management time scale involved. Well logs for instance have a ‘full life cycle’ requirement that differs from the short term requirements of a daily drilling report. The trick is to look across different information flows, identify the gaps and then bring everything together and create corporate objectives and a balanced IM project portfolio.

BP Technology Director Paul Stone investigated the impact of digital innovation in oil and gas. BP’s innovators are looking for ‘game changing’ technologies. One such project was the introduction of GE into oil and gas with projects including wireless automation and workforce automation. A game changer starts with an idea and ‘evangelization,’ before there is a detailed technology blueprint. Next come pilot projects and finally, ‘at scale’ transition to business segments. Stone notes, ‘there is no innovation until technology is adopted!’ The scale of the first phase which generally lasts about a year can be seen from the GE game changer. Here the idea was to use predictive analytics to anticipate and fix equipment problems on production facilities. This mobilized around 50 vendors working to explain and evangelize the technology before discussing specifics and agreeing on proof of concept pilots. The equipment health monitoring trials showed how small changes in compressor vibration can herald an insipient problem*. Devon Energy CIO Jerome Beaudoin described how a data rich E&P environment can enhance workforce efficiency. Data management is still ‘hot,’ but we need to improve confidence in our data. Today’s data ‘reality’ remains the spreadsheet! Users are comfortable with spreadsheets and know the data has not been manipulated by IT!

Beaudoin suggests working from this state of affairs to identify what users see, to be able to clean the data and identify ownership. Devon is working on ‘intelligent data recognition,’ managing unstructured content in a system of reference. For Devon this means Endeca’s Information Access Platform. Endeca has allowed Devon to locate and manage data that was previously impossible to locate and to access all of the ‘authoritative sources’ of well data.

Luigi Salvador, ENI’s chief knowledge officer stressed that, ‘People are the key factors because technology and organizational changes can only succeed when they are accepted by people.’

Only people can make sense of data. So the answer is a combination of tools and behaviors. We also need more willingness to share and ‘less individual, competitive behavior.’ ‘Knowledge sharing is so much more productive.’ In some ENI units users spend up to 10% of their time exchanging knowledge, helped with a knowledge facilitator. The answer is not Taylorism. Complex problems require complex solutions and the knowledge enterprise requires actors not executors.

* More on this is the current issue of BP’s Frontiers Magazine –

Correction (Oil IT Journal, February 2009) Endeca points out that ‘Devon is not an Endeca client. Jerome Beaudoin made it clear that Devon implemented its E&P Portal Solution internally. Endeca was presented as a new technology that appeared to offer an alternative to the custom coded application.’ Our apologies to Jerome Beaudoin, Devon and Endeca.

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