Interview—Eldad Weiss and Duane Dopkin, Paradigm

Oil IT Journal interviews Paradigm CEO and EVP-Technology. How a ‘pure play’ software house is different. APAX acquisition and an IPO? Linux, Windows and HPC. Automating interpretation.

What differentiates Paradigm?

Eldad Weiss—Paradigm has no attached service business. Our clients like the fact that we are a pure play software provider. Also we like not being in the cutthroat seismic business!

Duane Dopkin—Software developed by a pure play company is different than that developed for a service company’s own needs. We closed our service division a couple of years back because of this and because of conflict with our customers’ in-house seismic processing divisions and reservoir services organizations.

Where does Paradigm originate its software? Universities, consortia?

EW—About 95% of our software is organically developed. Even when we acquire companies their tools are re-written to a common code standard and interface. Whether you buy or build you have to re-build anyhow.

DD—We remain active in many consortia. But these provide ideas rather than code.

What was the rational for the Apax deal?

EW—A company’s development needs to match the size of its financial backers. Ten years ago, Fox Paines’s $2.5 billion assets were a good match for Paradigm. The APAX deal moves us to the next level. With $36 billion under management, Apax is one of the largest private equity companies in the world.

So when’s the IPO?

EW—Apax invests for the long term. Growth is the first objective.

But what does Apax do with acquisitions?

EW—They will eventually seek liquidity.

Presumably it will be hard to find an even bigger buyer! So an IPO is likely?

EW—You are starting to connect the dots... Paradigm has been a public company in the past.

Last time we spoke, the subsalt Gulf of Mexico was Paradigm’s strength.

DD—Our software’s ability to image the sub salt is still key. But is not necessarily the emphasis now, as you can see from the diversity of our customer base. They are now faced with pressure to meet the new requirements of non conventionals.

What are your key offerings here?

DD—Our ES 360 technology is important in this space. We are also working on novel seismic processing techniques which avoid traditional data sectoring, using the whole data set all at once. Clients also want to simulate the whole oil field with multi billion cell reservoir models. These are achievable with Gocad/Skua’s unstructured gridding. This approach has huge implications in the Middle East and China.

We attended an Aramco talk on 100,000 trace seismic acquisition.

EW—Acquisition companies are starting to work with us as they promote new techniques. Processing software has to follow. Our tools are used up front to optimize acquisition.

Where is the Linux/Windows debate going today?

DD—On the desktop we are 50/50 Linux/Windows. On the cluster it is primarily Linux. Microsoft has not really made it in the cluster arena.

EW—All the new broad band processing and acquisition produces great imagery. But what do you do with it? You need to help the interpreter. We are showing novel autopicking technology to selected clients. Constrained autopicking in Skua picks hundreds of horizons at once. The results are displayed as multiple pick scenarios that the interpreter can chose from. Autopick is a big change for the industry—not everyone realizes how big!

Like the shift from 2D to 3D in the 1980s?

EW—Exactly. Today’s high quality data sets are forcing a rethink of how we do interpretation.

DD—Scalability is also important. Other interpretation tools run on a single system. But some of our clients have a thousand users. This requires a different approach to software engineering and security. We will be making announcements around security, data management and vendor neutral data formats over the next couple of years.

What formats?

DD—Open data standards—well accepted, published standards such as ResqML and PPDM. There is a consensus that these now represent mature, rich data models.

And the SEG?

DD—Not so much. This is more up to the data creators.

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