Microsoft Global Energy Forum, Houston

The 2010 Microsoft Global Energy Forum held in Houston last month (to which Oil IT Journal was not invited) had a certain déjà vu about it with repeat performances from ConocoPhillips and Marathon. The big technology thing was Herb Yuan’s unveiling of Shell’s Petrel/Ocean strategy. But the real event was Steve Ballmer’s passionate exposé on Microsoft’s involvement in oil and gas.

Herb Yuan’s keynote introduced Shell’s new approach to technology. This involves integrated workflows that embed Shell’s proprietary application portfolio while reinforcing Shell standards and data management policy. All of which is being crafted around Schlumberger’s Petrel and its Ocean development environment—both flagship oil and gas products for Microsoft. Shell’s Petrel/Ocean modules includes a link to ‘nDI’ (an upgrade to Shell’s own 3DI seismic interpretation system), and Shell’s ‘Simple Visualization Software’ toolset for fracture network modeling and geomechanics, a curiously titled ‘Voice BodyWorld’ component and many others—in various stages of development. Modules are bundled and deployed with Petrel across Shell. For Yuan, the key enablers are the .NET platform and the Ocean domain-specific environment. The development leverages Microsoft’s VisualStudio/TeamSystem for project/source code management and documentation. The Shell/Schlumberger/Microsoft love-in dates back to the 2002 ‘Shellfish’ .NET pilot. OpenSpirit provides the gateway to third party apps and data sources such as SMT, Finder, OpenWorks, GeoFrame, ‘managed SEGY’ and Recall.

Reid Smith updated Marathon’s enterprise content management solution that was unveiled as ‘ViewPoint’ last year, but is now ‘MaraView.’ MaraView has extended its data/visualization focus with a dashboard that includes support for project teams and social networking functionality including a ‘colleague tracker,’ blogs, a myStocks component (!) and newsfeeds. Bing Maps, search and production KPIs complete the dashboard. Guiding principles behind MaraView include the fact that information should be managed as an asset, that standard processes and technology are beneficial and that the system ‘embeds legal and regulatory compliance in business processes.’

Andy Morley described how Baker Hughes’ ‘Knowledge WorkSpaces for Collaboration’ (KWC) originated in a 2002 move to eliminate internal ‘rogue’ websites. Today, the KWC portal integrates knowledge management, well data management, GIS, SAP, communities of practice and more. Baker Hughes, in collaboration with the SPE, conducted a technology review that led to the selection of SharePoint and the migration of around 1,000 internal Documentum eRooms. KWC is credited with successes including a global HR consolidation, a ‘GaugePro’ product launch workspace, SAP implementation tracking and SOX auditing and field-based knowledge capture, a template Wiki for capturing oil field and area-specific information. External KWCs support collaboration with customers and suppliers and eLearning. Baker Hughes is currently working to add content, improve ‘findability’ and integrate more with business and technical systems.

Wes Couch’s presentation outlined how Southwestern Energy Company (SWEC), with help from Stonebridge, has added a SharePoint to leverage its OpenText/Livelink-based well file solution. The company was challenged by poor information sharing between its operational teams and across disciplines. Livelink was deployed to provide ‘a solid and consistent framework’ for information management. SWEC’s technique is to use SharePoint to allow operational teams to manage their data and to develop their own websites. SharePoint’s content management and workflow approvals system were considered key. A Partner Information Portal was rolled out in 2008 to distribute documents to the appropriate working interest owners in a timely manner—replacing some 15,000 emails per week! Couch warned, ‘SharePoint is powerful, but it is not the solution for everything. An information architecture must be in place before the platform can be fully utilized.’

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wound up the proceedings describing oil and gas as ‘a leading-edge user’ of IT with modeling, real time, visualization and collaboration ‘pushing the state of the art.’ A futuristic video showed the shape of things to come—full, wall-sized screens for collaboration and visualization, biometric security, real-time translation, ‘enhanced’ reality and use of sensor information. The ‘three screens and a cloud’ paradigm, the natural user interface, smart cloud and pervasive security promises a paradigm shift that will transform the way information gets used in the oil and gas industry. Advances in consumer technology such as the Natal Xbox peripheral will feed back into advanced environments like oil and gas. More from links/1002_2.

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