Interview - Pat Ryan, Noah Consulting

Pat Ryan discusses her presentation to the Calgary geoscience data managers society on improving management of well location data. She also satisfies our curiosity as to why Calgary has two upstream data management associations.

Isn’t it curious that Calgary now has two upstream data management organizations, Ppdm, the professional petroleum data managers association and Cgdms, the Calgary geoscience data managers society?

No. Many companies have two distinct data management functions with geotechs in the subsurface group likely to find Cgdms most valuable to them while Ppdm serves the broader brief of corporate, cross functional data management. Most companies use vendor-supplied public data from IHS or GeoLogic Systems that are built on Ppdm data models and the data gets brought into internal data stores. Ppdm is about professionalizing petroleum data management as well as developing best practices and standards so the talks tend to be general and high level. Cgdms is all about fostering the exchange of ideas, resources and expertise and most of the talks seem to be specific and detailed about acquiring, processing and managing seismic data, downhole well data and land or spatial data for the Geotechs who have to deal with applications like Petrel or DecisionSpace.

Your presentation focused on the leverage of Ppdm’s ‘what is a well’ (Wiaw) in the context of shale and heavy oil work and you made it clear that with the complexity of these new types of activity the first question to ask is ‘whose problem are you trying to solve?’ But it might seem like the Wiaw approach seeks to solve all past and future problems at once. Likewise for the possible ‘what is a well location’ effort you mention and/ maybe ‘what is a frac?’

Not really. We need to approach it from both angles. One serious ‘problem we are trying to solve’ involves regulatory reporting. Both shale and heavy oil involve complex well geometries and relationships. One of particular concern to Canadian operators is the fact that Sagd wells are drilled and exploited as well pairs from well pads. This leads to new reporting requirements. The Wiaw materials were a foundation for the Canadian well identification system (Cwis) group which was joined by the regulators from Alberta, Saskatchewan, BC and Manitoba to work towards a consensus in terminology and usage for well identification and reporting. Saskatchewan has already leveraged Wiaw and the Cwis standard in its systems and regulations and Alberta will be following suite in the near future.

But in North America zillions of shale wells have been drilled, fracked and are in production before there are definitive answers to these top level questions. So what is the actual state of play of all this data?

I think it’s fair to say that this is work in progress. Lots of the data already exists. Drilling multiple multilateral wells from a single surface pad is complex. Positioning long reach horizontal wells needs accuracy and involves gathering data from multiple sources – the interpretation tools mentioned above, surface location surveys and drillers applications like Compass. Wiaw is providing consensus-based definitions for the well components in these complex activities. The existing data can be organized more effectively with a solid understanding of the Wiaw concepts.

Who is implementing the resulting data stores – vendors or operators?

The major data vendors were involved in the Wiaw and Cwis* Standard work and in Canada are working closely with regulators. They are continually improving their databases and data management practices. You can view multilateral well paths and paired wells in the vendors’ data. But not all of the use cases or reporting challenges have been resolved. While most users can get by with industry-standard data bases, larger operators struggle with these and require a combined public and proprietary blended well master. Shale and Sagd are the current norm and both complex dense drilling plays. It is unlikely that Wiaw and the Cwis standards will be able to fix everything. A detailed and integrated description of the surface and subsurface in these plays is required and is difficult to achieve.

What sort of things are operators trying to do with shale data?

Some operators are doing very sophisticated stuff involving multiple data sources. For instance tying micro-seismic observations from frac stages along wellbore paths to well tests, production, operational activity, financial, etc. and feeding this into a data warehouse and leveraging tools like Spotfire for analysis. Others have gone on to Big Data tools and automatically integrating and comparing data from every functional group. It all involves the same principles of data modeling, it’s just that the volumes have gone up a lot!

Our impression of Ppdm implementations is that they are more often used in house as a top-level master/meta data store. These uses seem to make more of Ppdm as a deeper model.

Sure. Ppdm is used as much more than a top level master database. Both IHS and GeoLogic have all well related data in their data models which are Ppdm-based. Ppdm can provide a holistic model of all relational organizational data. That’s how the vendors use it as do many operators. Ppdm can addresses the Wiaw and Cwis issues, along with many other data areas – environmental, land, subsurface and production and so on.

But is all this being done by vendors or do companies build their own large-scale Ppdm stores in-house?

In the last five to ten years more companies have moved to their own in-house database to address internal reporting and data complexity and integrity issues. For example Nexen developed an internal database that housed a blend of proprietary data and IHS’s public data with a map-based data browser displaying integrated detailed well data direct from the IHS data hub. Talisman on the other hand worked jointly with IHS on an integrated public and proprietary master housed within the IHS data hub. Various configurations are possible. Also the Ppdm model has hooks for linkage to other systems like ERP. In the end, the Ppdm and Cgdms groups are alternate forums where folks can talk and share successes and problems and do a better job handling these complex data. These efforts mean that vendors, regulators, operators and partners have an opportunity to be all on the same wavelength.

Read our brief summary of Ryan’s presentation on page 4 of this issue and download the slides from the Cgdms website.

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