Oil and gas IT scrutinized by mainstream media

Guardian and Compterworld UK spotlight oil software issues in US and UK.

Leo King, writing in Computerworld UK1 reports that National Oilwell Varco refused to provide access to its proprietary ‘HiTech’ application claiming this could ‘mislead’ government investigators. Investigator Fred Bartlit wrote to the Oil Spill Commission complaining of ‘a roadblock’ in the investigation claiming NOV was ‘generally uncooperative, either in the form of refusal or delay.’

Access to the package is required to allow investigators to recreate the surveillance data available to the Deepwater Horizon’s crew in the hours prior to the explosion. Investigators note BP has already provided data, and cementing contractor Halliburton is ‘in talks to provide key algorithms for data conversion.’ NOV responded claiming ‘manufacturing guesses as to what was displayed on the rig’s computers runs a serious risk of producing a misleading picture of what actually happened.’ Computerworld also reported that a slide prepared by investigators was displayed briefly on the OSC website indicating that BP had ignored the ‘advice’ of Halliburton’s cement modeling software in an attempt to save time.


A posting2 on the UK Guardian newspaper’s website, citing ‘confidential correspondence’ obtained by the newspaper, described the effects of an oil spill computer modeling exercise performed by Chevron on the West of Shetlands Lagavulin prospect.

The study investigated the effects of a ‘worst-case’ scenario of a 77,000 bopd spill lasting 14 days. The following day Computerworld’s redoubtable Leo King added to the story3 with the information that the Microsoft Windows-based Oil Spill Information System from BMT Argoss crashed repeatedly during modeling, limiting the run time to the 14 day time frame. In an email to the Offshore Inspectorate Chevron said it was working ‘at the boundaries of modeling capability’.

1 www.oilit.com/links/1012_03

2 www.oilit.com/links/1012_04

3 www.oilit.com/links/1012_05

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