A bumper review of 2013 and 2013 (December 2013)

Having missed an opportunity last December, Oil IT Journal editor Neil McNaughton summarizes two year's worth of Oil IT Journal. Highlights—virtualization, petaflop computing, zillion trace seismic, internet of things, safety reporting (Imeche, CSB), the demise and rebirth of semantics and the coming of age of Hadoop.

Last December I had such a bee in my bonnet about standards that I forgot to do my annual ‘year in review’ piece. So here is a double edition spanning 2012 and 2013. In January 2012 our visit to Houston Digital Plant event turned out to a semantic surprise. The show was hijacked by the Fiatech/Jord community. Total’s 2 petaflop supercomputer was announced. In February, the Standards leadership council (SLC) was formed. In April we asked, ‘Is Microsoft MURA anything more than the SharePoint fan club?’ And BP’s HPC hit the petaflop. Re-reading my May editorial on kaizen and the cluttered desktop I have to confess that we have not got very far since then. There are still piles of paperwork all over the place and (now) four or five different computers on the go. I live in hope though. We now have a larger recycling bin for the waste and Microsoft’s switch-off of the venerable Windows XP means a forced retirement of at least two machines ‘real soon now.’

May brought the ‘internet of things’ (IoT) onto our radar. June’s editorial investigated the ‘sanctity’ of the company presentation and its counterpart, ‘reproducible’ research—a topic that I feel is worth a bit of a crusade. Hadoop got a mention at the 2012 PNEC even if it was just a teaser.

July carried shameless plug for www.oldsports.com (oops there’s another one!) and saw some more a propos developments at the EAGE in the field of computer-aided interpretation. In September we proudly featured a letter to the editor from no other than SAP’s Hasso Plattner who took issue with our review of his book on Hana. The review is up on Amazon by the way where it has been judged the book’s ‘most helpful critical review.’ Fame at last! Hadoop got a slightly more credible plug in our report from UtiliPoint.

In October my ‘training the data managers’ editorial asked ‘whatever happened to programming?’ which seems to be a good question judging from the subsequent controversy. We also extended our coverage of process safety with reports from the UK Institute of mechanical engineer’s event (Buncefield) and the US Chemical safety board (Macondo). Seismic trace counts ‘went wild’ with 100,000 deployed by Aramco and a million trace system mooted by HP/Shell/PGS. November saw Chevron follow BP down the data virtualization route and BP catch up with Total in the petaflop stakes. We also reported (rather importantly I think) that the ‘semantic’ ISO 15926 standard is ‘based on a misunderstanding.’ All of 2012 is now in the public domain on www.oilit.com in case you are not yet a subscriber.

And so to 2013, which kicked off with a statement from Emerson CEO Larry Irving to the effect that oil and gas is ‘a technology leader for other industries to follow.’ GE was also plugging its ‘industrial internet.’ We belatedly tracked down the final report from Norway’s Integrated operations in the high North to learn what many had suspected all along, that its semantic technology was ‘immature and hard for domain specialists to use.’ Lundin virtualized its IT.

Our February lead was the first of several to jump on the ‘big data’ bandwagon with a report from Shell’s Cold Lake. We reported on the demise of the W3 oil and gas semantic group. Honeywell offered a new slant on process control virtualization. In March, SAP announced Hana for oil and gas and Premier virtualized too. There was yet another attempt to get to grips with big data and Hadoop—with our best shot so far from a GE expert. We also learned that the GE’s IE ‘will never be a protocol’ which seemed curious. At the SPE Digital Energy show we heard Chevron CIO Louie Ehrlich sit carefully on the fence of the lead/lag debate, ‘While oil and gas is a technology leader and already gets a lot from IT, we are leaving value on the table because of the mixed reception given to the partnership of engineering and IT.’

In April, semantics was back with a vengeance in our review of ‘Shared earth modeling,’ from a team of researchers at IFP Energies Nouvelles. There was more safety and risk management coverage as the US Chemical safety board gave Chevron a roasting over poor refinery design and safety documentation. Rather alarmingly, the CSB’s findings ‘apply to all refineries, plants and industry.’ In an unrelated, but timely announcement, DNV Software updated its ‘EasyRisk’ risk management solution.

In May I produced my infamous ‘bunkum’ editorial on data management! In June, inspired by the young faces at the London EAGE I suggested that it was time to retire the ‘technology laggard’ story to avoid continued embarrassment. In July we reported from the Belsim user group which proved an eye-opener on data quality in the process industry—a technology lead if ever there was one. September included a report from PODS’ first EU meet showing the vigor and focus of the pipeline IT community. Thereby hangs a tale which I will save for a later date.

In October we reported from the New Orleans SPE on ‘fatal flaws in the risk matrix’ and heard more on GE’s Industrial Internet which is seemingly deployed by BP in its Advanced collaboration environment (ACE). Elsewhere we heard that the Industrial Internet is the same thing as the IoT!

Despite the lovey-dovey SLC’s efforts, November brought an attack by the OMG on the OPC’s UA protocol.

So whither now? Well, when you are through reading this, the last issue of 2013, you will have heard from UK-based researchers Ovum that oil and gas is an information technology laggard. You will have observed that just when you thought it was all over ... semantics are back with a philosophical-ontology-based swords-to-ploughshares initiative behind Tullow’s master data. Also this month, Hadoop comes of age in the upstream as a component of Landmark’s ZetaAnalytics.

A great 2014 to you all!

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