Oil IT Journal interview - Keith Robertson, PetroDE

Following Anadarko’s enterprise-level acquisition of PetroDE’s cloud-based upstream data browser, Oil IT Journal talks to its CTO about the company’s history and technology choices.

How did you folks get started?

I began my career as a software engineer six years ago working with a geophysicist colleague who was having trouble keeping up to speed on oil and gas activity. I developed a small data browsing app for him which was in use for a couple of years before we expanded its scope with help from student developers at U Colorado. This developed first with funding from friends and family and later with a couple of million of funding from investors.

What’s the elevator pitch for petroDE?

To provide easy access for all oil and gas data sources, for instance IHS, Drilling-Info, RigData and many more.

Why don’t folks use, say, the IHS client?

Because PetroDE works across multiple data sources and is faster and more intuitive than Enerdeq. Specialists will use other tools like Petra and Kingdom that provide some data access. But PetroDE targets all data sources. It is a meeting place where users can congregate and see all their geo data from a single tool.

You initially leveraged Google Earth...

We started out on Google Earth but this was deprecated by Google last year and the API will be turned of at year end 2015. So we have now ported the app to Open Layers*.

We recently reported that Esri is now the focus of GIS integration in the upstream. How does Open Layers compare?

Open Layers does a great job but it (and we) are not competing with Esri. Power users can still generate content (say contours) in Esri and upload a geodatabase to our server. But our philosophy is that geoscience end users don’t have to ask someone else to produce a map.

What about unstructured data integration?

We are not really doing this yet. In fact oil and gas has lots of structured data sources. Even newsfeeds are structured now.

And in-house company data?

Not yet either although you can upload a geodatabase to our server.

And what is VPAC?

VPAC stands for virtual private accelerated cloud. Our standard product runs on the shared Amazon EC2 cloud but some clients (like Anadarko) consider that this presents a security risk. Here we offer a secure connection to an Amazon virtual private cloud (VPC) instance. The data is in the cloud but has the same security as behind the firewall. The VPC can also be used to run an Active Directory instance for secure authentication.

Is Anadarko the first VPAC client?


* PetroDE plans to leverage the open-source Cesium Google Earth replacement when it has Open Layers support. More from the PetroDE blog.

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