Microsoft 2013 GEF

Microsoft Global Energy Forum hears from Afren on trials of Petrel Studio. Chevron’s global upstream petrotechnical portal. Hess’ ‘subsurface milestone and deliverables’ project. A theme of the GEF was mobile computing with presentations from Chevron, Devon and Halliburton. Shell/Covisint ‘be careful about who can search what!’ But … still nothing on MURA!

Schlumberger’s Petrel is a poster child for Microsoft as it spearheaded the move from Unix-based interpretation systems to Windows a decade ago. But the ‘single user’ PC paradigm still presents integration problems and ‘Petrel data management’ is something of an oxymoron. Enter ‘Studio,’ a new E&P ‘knowledge environment’ for Petrel. Studio is said to offer a knowledge management and data collaboration environment along with ‘tight integration’ with the Microsoft business platform.

Ricardo Ramirez presented Afren’s experience running Petrel and Studio on SQL Server. Afren wanted to improve collaboration between geosciences, engineering and data management across its different geographies. Studio was evaluated as a potential enhancement to Afren’s current Petrel reference project workflows.

A test used three petrotechnical users and three data managers. Various workflows were evaluated such as exchange of surfaces, faults and tops, sharing of user-edited data and quality flags. Studio’s access rights management and database performance were also tested. The results were that exchange of surfaces and faults and other data types was ‘significantly faster’ and that multi user access was possible. Sharing well sections still required a separate template-based export/import. Multi-user access worked well and seismic data links could be transferred and shared in a seismic data ‘pool’ similar to the reference project.

Data Management functionality allowed for multiple versions of data with access control. A ‘significant’ productivity improvement was noted—reference project data transfer with Studio was around 10 times faster. Data transfer workflows were ‘simple and intuitive’ with fewer mouse clicks. The pre-packaged hardware enabled rapid deployment. Afren is a smallish UK-based E&P shop with under 300 employees. This fact and the small team involved in the pilot means your mileage may vary.

Bill Gilmore presented Chevron’s global upstream petrotechnical portal (PTP). Chevron is automating information collection for its engineering teams. A development by Accenture and its majority-owned Avanade unit has leveraged Microsoft’s SQL database solutions to ‘realize a significant improvement in productivity and free resources to focus on increasing production.’ The portal is a starting point from which to obtain data, select workflows and provide tools to decision makers.

Currently, Chevron’s data is stored in applications specific to a particular data type. Some data types may be stored in more than one application and each has its own access permissions. This means that manual data integration is often required to the extent that petrotechnical still spend 30–70% of their time finding, conditioning and verifying data. The skill sets required for this type of activity are disappearing as experienced staff retire. Enter the PTP, a one-stop shop for data retrieval and visualization. The PTP is a web-based system developed in Microsoft Silverlight using the Petroweb Navigator toolkit. The latter provides charts, data grids and GIS base maps. The PTP has simplified access to data in ESRI ArcGIS, SQLServer and SSAS (Microsoft’s business intelligence offering) and Oracle. Search is quicker and easier and usability is improved through a ‘simple and common interface.’ Future plans include a migration from Silverlight to HTML5.

Rick Beaubouef introduced Hess’ subsurface milestone and deliverables (SMD) guidelines for project management and stewardship of technology. These have been leveraged in ‘Pathfinder2020,’ one of several Hess applications of 3GiG’s Prospect Director. P2020 was ‘inspired’ by the Windows 8 tablet user interface which led (curiously) to the designation ‘iSMD.’ The system has proved popular and has seen immediate deployment on the worldwide Hess desktop. The moral of the tale? Quality content is not enough. Users need immediate access, simplicity and usability. Developers need a compelling use case.

Mobile computing was something of a theme at the conference. Chevron’s upstream workflow transformation program has a mobility component. Michael Burt and Ravi Malla described how mobile decision support is being provided to Chevron’s San Joaquin Valley field workers. The system provides real-time dashboards embedded in business processes and workflows. Operator’s activity is ‘exposed’ to management in real-time. Under the hood is the ubiquitous OSIsoft PI System and SharePoint 2013. Technology from M2M Corp. enables wireless based real-time data sync. Other components include the CIRA X mobile gateway and NetMotion mobile VPN. The system uses a wireless hotspot in the truck with rugged laptops and handheld devices for fieldworkers.

Devon has been working with Microsoft consulting services to offer its knowledge workers the same compute environment at the office and at home—without having to lug any hardware around. This means limiting device options for security and being realistic as to what applications are needed. Devon is currently rolling out Windows 7 and will be trialling Windows in 2013 including integrated voice/video/IM into a single unified platform.

Halliburton’s presented a prototype mobile ‘always-connected’ version of DecisionSpace for Production. The unit included technology from Qualcomm and iLink Systems running on a Windows RT tablet from Dell.

Shell Oil’s Adrian Estala provided an update on its work with Covisint on securing its information via a hosted identify federation gateway. This leverages Microsoft’s unified access gateway at the network edge and Covisint as the external federation gateway for 2-factor authentication. Oil and gas presents some tricky security issues. Estala observed, ‘Be very careful about what you allow the external parties to search. Even if they can’t open a document, just viewing the title may be risky.’ A highly granular two factor authentication using the SAML protocol is used for all SharePoint access restricting users to the data and sites that are required. A ‘reverse proxy’ provides critical capabilities for secure traffic inspection and for facilitating authentication. Shell uses Microsoft’s UAG Proxy. External users dial in either with a Cipher card or receive an SMS text message containing their 2nd factor credentials.

But, and a big but at that, for the second year running, there was nothing about Microsoft’s upstream reference architecture ‘Mura!’ More from the GEF homepage.

Click here to comment on this article

Click here to view this article in context on a desktop

© Oil IT Journal - all rights reserved.