EAGE Conference 2010, Barcelona

Allied Bionics—oils ‘too connected to fail.’ Landmark’s DecisionSpace Desktop—the Petrel killer? Roxar rolls out ‘.ROX.’ Is Schlumberger’s Peyret a closet Mac fan? SMT ‘whitelabels’ OpenSpirit’s data infrastructure. Total on Rescuml and Aramco on the hard path to model based control.

Bogdan Motoc of Calgary-based Allied Bionics poster presentation, ‘Too connected to fail’ used ‘complexity theory’ in a metaphoric sort of way, seeing the enterprise as a ‘life form’ whose purpose is self perpetuation, rather than some altruistic good. An analysis of healthcare units found that they ‘work’ for their own survival and need a lot of social constraint to moderate and metrics to optimize. Factors impacting oil and gas include the scientific community, public and investor pressure. Such agencies operate at widely different speeds. Public pressure ‘travels’ much faster than an oil and gas businesses’ capacity to respond as events in the Gulf of Mexico are demonstrating. What does this mean for oils? Oil and gas is ‘too connected’ to the rest of our ecosystem to fail—‘collapse is not an option.’ We need to speed governance processes and educate the public on what can realistically be achieved. One way of doing this is through social network analysis that can help identify actors of importance and open up new parallel paths of communication.

Landmark was busy with the roll out of its DecisionSpace Desktop/EarthModel (DSD), a ‘unified work space’ spanning geology, geophysics and modeling—and based on Open Works/R5000. The demo showed a new Project Designer ‘brainstorming’ tool, a workflow manager and other novelties including geostatistics and ‘vertical cell walls’ (not pillar gridding!) Models can be sent straight to the simulator sans upscaling. Will DSD be Landmark’s Petrel killer? Not without a more enthusiastic marketing push. Maybe this will come with the release of a Windows port.

Schlumberger Information Solutions president Olivier Peyret gave an enthusiastic booth presentation of the Ocean development environment and application store. At first it seemed like he was working for Apple, waving his iPhone around. But his praise was for the Apps and the App Store not the hardware. ‘Petrel is Schlumberger’s iPhone’ he explained adding ‘even our fiercest competitors are developing plug-ins’ using the Ocean dev kit which is also used internally by Schlumberger. Schlumberger bet on Microsoft’s .NET development platform 10 years ago and ‘we don’t regret it.’ Flagship client Shell bought Ocean in 2003 and now has developed 80 plug-ins. Our guess though is that Peyret is, at heart, a Mac aficionado. As the Ocean Store demo proceeded he was heard to say, ‘It scrolls better on the iPad!’

We interviewed OpenSpirit president Dan Piette next for the skinny on its support of Microsoft’s Upstream Reference Architecture (MURA). Piette pointed out that Microsoft’s market presence made the offer of an association something that could not be refused. Microsoft plans to use OpenSpirit to add G&G focus and extend integration to drilling and production. Piette admitted that, ‘It will take time to define something concrete. Meanwhile we will continue to focus on our clients’ needs.’ These are growing apace as OpenSpirit has 450 sites and 1000 users in 66 companies—representing around $15 million in sales. Despite MURA there are no plans to de-focus, ‘We will not be going to SQL Server-based business data access.’

OpenSpirit has a now poster child in the form of Seismic Micro Technology which is ‘white labeling’ OpenSpirit’s data infrastructure that now provides Kingdom to Kingdom data access (previously provided by the ‘Tunnel’ point to point links.) This use of OpenSpirit begs the question as to why the toolset is not getting more visibility as a data management solution, something it is obviously rather good at. Piette intimated that there were certain sensitivities regarding OpenSpirit’s shareholders’ existing solutions in the data management space.

Kjetil Fagervik, Roxar’s VP product development was our next interlocutor. He explained that although Emerson acquired Roxar mainly for its flow measurement business, the software arm is considered ‘a huge bonus’ and is being rolled into Emerson’s vision of ‘intelligent fields.’ Novelties include seismic data in the RMS flagship—using Hue Space’s technology and a new ‘.ROX’ framework. This includes new domain models and services and an open source database for transactions and persistence. We asked if .ROX was Roxar’s Ocean. Fagervik said, ‘We have not yet decided—but it could become one! We are aiming for ease of use, functionality and massive parallelism.’ Roxar seems less keen than some others on the lemming like dash to Windows. Roxar’s Rob Smallshire advocates staying multi-platform. Roxar has even trialled RMS on the Amazon EC2 cloud. Reflecting on this we did notice that most EAGE demos we attended were running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Maybe Roxar has something...

SPT was showing a Mepo plug-in for Petrel. Petrel is a monolithic app and can be very slow on compute-intense tasks, ‘folks are complaining.’ Now Petrel users can hand off number crunching to Solaris/Linux clusters and run, say, 2,000 simulations at once. A Petrel link to Olga is also under development.

Total’s RaphaŽle Henri-Bailly reported progress on Resqml, (RML) Energistics’ geomodeling data standard. RML uses NASA’s binary HDF5 format and also embeds coordinate reference data. While Rescue occupies a niche between the model and the simulator, RML targets the whole workflow loop, a dozen or so activities expanding upstream to real time data. Real money is involved—with a funded port of HDF5 into 64bit Java. In a back to back presentation, Jean-Francois Rainaud showed how the French Petroleum Institute is adding semantic ‘certified’ annotation to RML.

Paradoxically, one project that suffers from a lack of funding is Saudi Aramco’s effort to apply model based control to production optimization. Othman Taha reckons that the technology could hike Aramco’s recovery rates by 15%! Aramco’s fields have the instrumentation and communications infrastructure required to apply the same control technologies as used in gas plants and refineries. But the project is languishing in universities and R&D departments. Taha said, ‘Every time I say ‘optimization’ someone says ‘we tried that 20 years ago.’’

This article is abstract of a longer Technology Report produced by Oil IT Journal’s publisher, The Data Room. More from www.oilit.com/tech.

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