Shared earth modeling

‘Semantic’ approach to oil and gas field modeling proposed in new publication from IFP Energies Nouvelles. ‘Knowledge-driven’ solution to inform next generation Energistics’ Resqml protocol.

A new book by a team of researchers led by Michel Perrin and Jean-François Rainaud at IFP Energies Nouvelles, the French petroleum institute, breaks new ground in geological modeling, proposing a ‘semantic’ framework embracing model topology, stratigraphic relationships and grids.

Shared Earth Modeling* (SEM), a hefty 350 page work, is subtitled ‘knowledge-driven solutions for building and managing subsurface 3D geological models.’ For knowledge-driven, read the ubiquitous application of semantic-web ontology-based technology.

In his introduction, Total’s Dominique Lefebvre compares the thrust of SEM to the actions of Aureliano Buendia in Gabriel García Márquez’ ‘One hundred years of solitude’ who, in an effort to combat memory loss, labels every object in his village. Likewise, ‘ontologies will be the labels of our geological models.’ The image is particularly apt in the context of the ‘graying workforce!’

SEM’s early chapters provide an accessible introduction to earth modeling while introducing the ‘knowledge framework’ that describes stratigraphic relationships, faults and other objects. Various gridding techniques are discussed in the context of commercial tools and the current state of the art. Particular attention is given to Energistics’ Resqml initiative for reservoir model data exchange. Here SEM distances itself from the current Resqml approach (and indeed most current XML-based exchange formats), contrasting their ‘data driven’ modeling with the ‘knowledge-driven’ approach of the SEM. This difference is illustrated in a chapter on seismic interpretation where faults and reflectors are viewed as ontology ‘instances’ and manipulated with the Stanford ‘Protégé’ editor. Several SEM authors were involved with Resqml although the current standard eschews the semantic vision.

The team is now working on a Resqml 2 proposal which will introduce simple ontological concepts and act as a bridge to a future semantic world. SEM winds up presenting several semantic applications that run atop of the framework including E-Wok (Oil ITJ Jan 09) and Petrolege and Stratalege developed at the University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Ontology management is illustrated with a workflow editor running atop of an Ontodb database of data from Total’s Alwyn field. A ‘WebLab’ platform is proposed to pull all the semantic strands together. All in all, SEM is a fascinating read. No oil and gas research department should be without a copy. More on SEM in this month’s editorial.

* Editions Technip 2013. ISBN 9782710810025.

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