SPE’s ‘me-too’ Open Subsurface investigation

Workshop to decide Society of Petroleum Engineers’ role in open source subsurface projects. OSDU not invited!

The enthusiasm surrounding the launch of an ‘operational’ Release 3 of The Open Group’s Open Subsurface Data Universe has clearly piqued the Society of Petroleum Engineers which has hastily organized a four half-day Virtual Workshop. The workshop is to ‘serve as a platform for SPE to reflect on the role it should play to help and support open subsurface projects in the future’. OSDU, The Open Group’s Open Subsurface Data Universe is conspicuously absent from the Workshop announcement and provisional agenda.

In a Damascene conversion, the SPE now sees open source data and ecosystems as ‘enabling a faster pace of innovation’. Some open source proselytizing appears to have been cut and pasted from the OSDU hymnal as in ‘today, subsurface modeling relies predominantly on proprietary solutions’, ‘data types and file formats greatly vary and change over time … infrastructure to manage data [ is needed to benefit from ] data and software exchange [and to] ensure and foster an environment that enables users to easily contribute’.

Notwithstanding the ‘me-too’ nature of the SPE’s initiative and the obvious FOMO*, the workshop is well structured and appears to address some of the more delicate facets of open source software in industry, notably project sustainability, legal aspects of open source development and licensing, and business models, even envisaging how a ‘transition to an open environment could be achieved, leading to a successful business environment for all stakeholders’.

The SPE workshop program is billed as a platform for SPE to reflect on the role it should play to help and support open subsurface projects in the future. If you want to take part in the ‘reflection’, registration for the workshop costs $495. We offered (for free!) the services of Oil IT Journal as scribe to the event but were told, ‘SPE workshops do not allow press reports. In order to stimulate frank discussion, no proceedings are published and members of the ‎press are not invited to attend’. Well, we can swallow our pride regarding the ‘no press’ snub. But should an event run by a self-selected coterie with no published proceedings determine what role the SPE will play for its broader membership?

Curiously, despite the 199 corporate members of OSDU, few or none are cited as presenting at the SPE Workshop. It looks like there is a fork in oil and gas open source movement even before it has begun!

* Fear of missing out.

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