Standards Leadership Council first EU meet (March 2013)

Standards bodies gather to compare notes and seek gaps, overlaps and points of intersection. Metadata, units of measure likely candidates for cooperation. PPDM to Witsml mapping put forward. But with XML, RDF, and other protocols on display, IT convergence may prove tricky.

The Standards Leadership Council (OITJ 09/2012) held its first EU gathering in London Heathrow last month and heard keynote speaker Malcolm Fleming of the UK’s Common Data Access upstream data portal speak on professionalizing E&P data management. Fleming observed that data managers are perceived as the Cinderella’s of the E&P business and that data in general is undervalued. Geoscientists are ‘entirely application driven, with a focus on tools such as Finder and Petrel. We need to develop generic skills and to identify commonalities.’

Last year, CDA and Schlumberger found that ‘28% of business value comes from data and its management.’ Data ought to be a corporate asset. Mining and seismic companies do this. PGS has $300 million worth of data on its balance sheet. There is also a need to professionalize the discipline with certification, ethics and ongoing development. CDA has proposed a ‘canonical’ training program, building on the DAMA philosophy, and a data competency portal which has just gone live. The results of the initial trial are to be presented at next May’s PNEC conference. Fleming concluded with a few remarks on the scope for standards in professionalizing data management. One, the EU’s Inspire standard-cum-regulation for geographic information (32 specifications each over 100 pages long) he described as ‘a nightmare!’

Convener Jerry Hubbard (Energistics) described the SLC initiative as a move away from standards competition. Initial reactions from the constituent bodies has been positive. The question now is, ‘what do we do next, what are we trying to accomplish?’ The current game plan is to collaborate with each other to benefit industry, working on gaps and points of intersection and making it easy to use multiple standards. A second objective is to collaborate on common challenges like sustainability, retention, and IT best practices. Hubbard went on to enumerate some current Energistics projects that may inform future SLC work. The ‘unified approach to metadata standards*’ project, an industry profile of ISO 19115, a protocol for the discovery evaluation and retrieval of structured and unstructured information. Energistics is also putting its comprehensive units of measure standard into the SLC pot. The UoM has a venerable history, from the API RP66, through Epicentre and latterly it has been leveraged in the latest tape standards from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (see below). An SLC work group of all 10 organizations is setting out to update and expand the UoM list—volunteers are needed for this ‘very complicated issue.’

Trudy Curtis (PPDM) outlined a push for a standard well log raster calibration file format. This seemingly minor issue spawned a meeting in Houston that ‘packed the room out.’ The project includes embedding depth values in TIFF images, GCM and PDF files and core photos. The now defunct WellLogml protocol lost its calibration information when it was subsumed into Witsml. Another ‘intersection’ project seeks to map PPDM’s ‘data at rest’ to Witsml’s ‘data in motion.’ Various users are extending PPDM and Witsml—but currently ‘all implement differently.’ More from PPDM.

Alan Johnston described the oil and gas interoperability pilot, an ISO TC 184 WG6 specification jointly developed by Mimosa and POSC/Caesar Association (PCA). The spec covers physical asset management—particularly the construction and handover of major facilities, plants and platforms. ISO 15926, the SPE drilling systems automation technical section (DSATS) and Open O&M also ran. Johnston wound up asking ‘Did I confuse you?’ He did.

PCA’s Nils Sandsmark offered ‘something different’ in the form of Ontologies for oil and gas. OOG has support from Mimosa, PCA, PODS and and an expression of ‘interest’ from PPDM & Energistics. The use of ontologies promises to add ‘semantic context’ to engineering data along with constraints and relationships. It is ‘all about limiting ambiguity in the model.’ The ontological approach in Norway has begotten a plethora of ‘products,’ License2Share, EquipmentHub, Environmental Hub, ReportingHub and LogisticsHub, an RDF triplestore that communicates to users via web service delivery of XML documents. 

Tom Burke’s presentation of the OPC Foundation’s involvement in oil and gas also revolved around the Society of Petroleum Engineers DSATS initiative (OITJ 11/2012). DSATS started in 2007 to accelerate uptake of automation in drilling. DSATS has produced a reference document and is now working on best practices and guidelines rather than ‘standards.’  Suppliers ‘hate standards’ and would prefer us to ‘buy everything from one supplier.’ But the world is (fortunately) not like that. DSATS is working on a ‘Drill-a-stand’ use case addressing reliability and safety. OPC, Energistics, Mimosa and the IADC’s advanced rig technology group are involved. The initiative addresses automation and machine to machine (M2M) interactions on new builds and existing rigs. The idea is for an overall automation architecture that applies to drilling companies and their suppliers. There is a ‘lot of money’ going into the initiative which is to deliver a generic API for automation using OPC-UA as transport along with Prodml and Mimosa components. In the ensuing discussion it was observed that automation generates much more excitement than data management.

Richard Wylde enumerated the recent additions to the OGP’s spatial data formats, P2 and P6. Prior to the SLC, an Energistics SIG was set up to look at seismic velocity formats. Wylde is working with Energistics to ensure that there will not be a new format for seismic velocity which is covered by the new SEG-D and OGP P-formats. We need to ‘make sure we don’t tread on each others’ toes and re-invent the wheel.’

On behalf of the SEG, Jill Lewis described the SEG-Y Rev 2 initiative that is underway. This has involved reverse engineering of the existing standard to align the spatial aspects with OGP and pay more attention to units of measure. Rev 2 addresses high capacity tape, sample rate trace length precision and real time applications. The new spec is not XML but will ‘handshake’ with OGP, PPDM and Energistics UoM. 

* It is our understanding that this refers to geographic metadata standards, but the omission has been made so often that there is clearly a sub text here. Dublin Core, a document metadata standard, likewise tends to omit this scoping detail.

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