6th Microsoft Global Energy Forum, Houston

Around 500 attendees hear from oils including BP, Chevron, Marathon, ConocoPhillips and Shell on matters like knowledge sharing, digital oilfields, business intelligence and operations information management. Star of the show was Microsoft’s SharePoint, now deployed up and downstream.

Dan Ranta explained that for Conoco-Phillips (CP), the key to successful knowledge sharing was the link to remuneration. This allowed CP to start collecting testimonials including knowledge sharing stories. CP has been using communities of practice networks since 2004. Now knowledge sharing is ‘nested’ in functional areas and has become part of peoples’ ‘day job’. Semantic analysis has proved very useful. CP now has a strategy for retaining corporate knowledge and a ‘FAST’ process for Finding information, Asking colleagues, Sharing expertise and Trusting global relationships. CP’s own semantic search technology has been a great equalizer for non English native speakers in the company. Ranta warns that networks can be silos too! They need to reach out to other network streams, for instance the downstream fixed equipment network now talks to its upstream equivalent, generating synergies.

Peter Breunig stated that Chevron’s IT is now part of every component of the energy value chain. While the ‘cool stuff’ gets the press, it is the ‘not so cool stuff’ that runs the business and pays the bills. Chevron currently makes good decisions that require manual effort. The company now wants to automate and optimize these proven business processes. The ‘cool stuff’ includes iFields, maintenance, production, reservoir asset management and in the downstream, optimizing value in tanks, supply/value chain optimization. In Bakersfield, Chevron’s data is now in good enough shape to identify opportunities. Teams use SharePoint Team Sites, there is no more emailing of Power Points. Chevron wants to leverage the ‘wisdom of crowds.’ More employees can work from home. Chevron had adopted SharePoint and will be adopting My Sites. The idea is to let users span different disciplines and systems, to ‘blend poroperm with ERP!’ Semantics also ran. Chevron’s IM architecture is treated as an asset, data is managed as an asset. This stuff is not ‘cool,’ but if you don’t do this the rest won’t work. Curiously at a Microsoft event, Breunig also argued in favor of doing things in an ‘open source-ish’ way.

Chris van Dyke presented Microsoft’s ‘Contoso Oil and Gas’ proof of concept oil production scenario, jointly developed by ESRI and SAIC. The fictitious Contoso uses SharePoint and Microsoft’s Business Intelligence (BI) stack to display key performance indicators such as wells operating below forecast. An ESRI web part pulled in satellite data from Virtual Earth and production data from SQL Server. An instant message was sent out to a co-worker to go check things out. A production ‘Wiki’ was involved. Wells behaving badly were broadcast to a production chart tool. SharePoint, Wikis, KPIs, forms, search, business intelligence also ran. Microsoft is now ‘committed to platform integration,’ ‘taking the integrating burden away from clients.’ All the above can be rolled in with other services or hosted to a greater or lesser degree in a ‘blended’ offering.

If Contoso was less than a tour de force, Bob Newton’s presentation of Marathon’s ‘ViewPoint’ came close. ViewPoint started life as a SharePoint-based proof of concept that was designed to ‘succeed or fail fast!’ It succeeded! ViewPoint was built according to design principles as follows, 1) read all data from a system of record, 2) don’t move data around, 3) create role based views, 4) use iterative developments and mash ups 5) be open—deployment is based on the ‘need to share,’ not on a ‘need to know.’ Finally ‘minimal to no training’ should be required to use the system. Marathon now has a standard SCADA system, a global data Historian and has extended ViewPoint to upstream marketing, reservoir engineering and accounting. ‘Gold standard’ databases feed into a ‘DataView’ middleware layer that supports ArcGIS/ViewPoint and other viewers. Marathon has standardized human machine interaction (HMI) across 10 domestic business units. ‘Situational awareness’ means more ‘eyes on data’ and improved data quality. Folks are more careful about what they capture. Field and well views are available. One big win has been in exposing reliability metrics with drill down to work orders, without having to ‘traverse’ to the ERP system. ViewPoint shone a spotlight on data quality and on Marathon’s business processes. ViewPoint also highlighted how much of Marathon’s business was previously done in Excel and other non systems of record.

Steve Walker showed how Chevron is leveraging the Microsoft Business Intelligence (BI) stack in its downstream operations. BI is integrated with Chevron’s master data management initiative. Part of the business is standardized on a SQL Server/SharePoint/Performance Point stack. Performance Point lets ‘non SQL geeks’ write their own reports. Chevron uses the tool to track corporate performance against set goals. BI was used to enhance Chevron’s gas estimation process using various SQL Server reporting tools. BI is now used to monitor Chevron’s refineries. Walker logged on to the El Segundo refinery to view KPIs of crude in, yield and planned production. The system embeds a mass balance dashboard. OSIsoft’s SigmaFine also ran.

ConocoPhillips is also using SharePoint to access multiple software silos in its refining operations as Zane Barham explained. Mergers and acquisitions have made for multiple, inherited strategies and applications. ConocoPhillips is now working towards consistency by making data accessible, even to casual users. The idea is to offer KPIs across the value chain including a commercial view, refinery view, unit view, and equipment view for maintenance repair and operations. The SharePoint-based operations information system (OIS) is being globally rolled-out over a 2007-2010 time frame across 10 refineries. AspenTech’s Operations Manager has been adapted along with SharePoint and other .NET/C# developments. A ‘target board’ shows live values (200—500 items) against targets for optimization. The system connects to ConocoPhillips LIMS systems and providing access to this previously inaccessible data has been popular. ConocoPhillips now has a single code base for all its refineries—a change from the days when one refinery was run from a 64 sheet Excel workbook!

Among the exhibitors we spotted a curiosity from Votum in the form of a solid steel 2D Matrix ‘barcode’ designed to ‘tag’ drill collars and other oil country tubulars. The company thinks that RFID is inappropriate for the tough downhole environment and offers this ‘hardware’ solution for downhole inventory management.

This article is an abstract from The Data Room’s Technology Watch report from the Microsoft GEF. More information from www.oilit.com/tech and tw@oilit.com.

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