Volume 25 Number 3


Is SEG-Y useless?

A storm is brewing in the geophysical world as competing approaches to storing seismic data in the cloud emerge. In one corner, OSDU, the Open Subsurface Data Universe has opted for a single vendor open source solution from Norway’s Bluware. In the other corner, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists has arisen from its slumbers with a ‘Whoa there! What exactly is wrong with SEG-Y?’

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Google quits AI for oil and gas

Anticipating pressure from the environmental movement, Google stops making customized artificial intelligence tools for oil and gas. A Greenpeace report accuses tech firms of ‘helping big oil profit from climate destruction’. The well-documented summary of current oil and gas cloud computing initiatives may make oils regret publicising their computing expertise so widely. ‘Zero Cool’ mole questions Microsoft’s carbon math.

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Why working from home may or may not be here to stay

The ‘digital transformation’ that covid19 has brought about is causing some to see the demise of the glass and steel headquarters. Oil IT Journal editor Neil McNaughton reflects on the ‘theater’ of the oil and gas business as it enters its ‘twilight years’.

This is another of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ deals. As folks have been banging on for years about ‘digital transformation’ without knowing or caring what it means, a transformation comes along fully formed and smacks the world in the face. Enter the covid19 digital transformation. No more being stuck in traffic jams or squeezed into the underground. No more chatting around the water cooler. No more expensive downtown office rentals. Working from home is where it’s at. And all thanks to Zoom, a technology that nobody saw coming and that isn’t even really new. The question is, will it last?

In the oil industry, the direct impact of remote working is difficult to evaluate. On the one hand, for many, it has been a way of life for quite a while. Smaller operators may call on the services of favored consultant seismic interpreters or reservoir engineers. While such folks may have required rather chunky IT for a home office in the past, having their tools of the trade available in the cloud removes this obstacle. In fact, it puts the remote worker on an equal footing with the major’s engineers, an interesting corollary of the push towards the cloud. But just as those pushing for digital transformation are keen to point out, ‘most digital transformation projects fail’. So how might the shift to teleworking ‘fail’?

A decade or so ago, some of the business-oriented consultants tried to convince oil bosses that geoscience was just like any other work process. Seismic interpretation was a ‘commodity’ activity that could be improved by the application of Taylorism and ‘lean’ processes. I don’t think they got very far. A quick google search for ‘oil and gas shift work’ suggests why. All shift work, i.e. where productivity is really at stake, is in the field, not in the office. Interpreters and, for that matter, software developers don’t work shifts. Despite the push for efficiencies in geoscience and for the rapid development of software as ‘minimal viable products’ the fact is that, in the oil and gas industry, like in software, work is a lot more relaxed than say, working in meat packing*.

The really key activity in oil and gas is the wheeling and dealing that goes on prior to the award of a concession. The geoscientists and engineers inform this activity of course but it is executed by folks who have a special relationship with the license holders or governments. Such special relationships may be arms-length and completely above board. Or, as Transparency International likes to remind us, not so transparent. Other wheeling and dealing opportunities abound in the secondary market as permits are exchanged, farmed-out and sold. This wheeling and dealing defies a Taylorism/efficiency analysis as does the ‘financial engineering’ that accompanies the deals. What is key here is confidence, persuasion and, as in much of human endeavor, the chance of financial gain.

I now invite you to a future meeting of a foreign potentate, some influential financiers and an independent oil company’s exec. The meeting takes place in a small downtown apartment with a brass plate on the door.

Potentate: ‘Pleased to meet you, but where are all your employees?’

Oil exec: ‘Ah, now we are pretty much a virtual company, all our employees work from home now’.

Potentate: ‘Really, how interesting. Our National oil company has ten thousand people working in a steel and glass tower’.

Oil exec: ‘Err right, we used to do it like that …’

Potentate: ‘Our people swear by their in-house IT. We have a 5 petaflop computer on site…’

Oil Exec: ‘We do all our computing in the cloud now, no need for anything on site’.

Potentate: ‘What was that I was just reading about Google and oil and gas IT?’

Oil Exec: ‘Err, right… Let’s talk finance.’

OK, I'm not very good at dialog. What I am trying to get across is that an oil and gas company is a builder of confidence in its capacity to execute geoscience, engineering and finance. The geoscientists and engineers working visibly inside a glass and steel tower are, along with their day jobs, building confidence in the operation, like so many actors in a play. Back in the day, the majors would present their proposed work in theatrical 3D visionariums. Today, expertise in artificial intelligence may play a similar role.

Of course, as now, one size does not fit all in oil and gas theater. I can imagine shale operators working from less ostentatious locales than for instance ExxonMobil’s mega campus in Spring, Texas, or Total’s yet-to-be-built high-rise in La Défense. Both of these are designed to impress, and it doesn’t look like teleworking was part of the program when they were planned.

Along with the covid transformation, oil and gas is currently being disrupted by the green movement, by shareholder revolts and by un-friendly comment in the financial community. WoodMac’s Luke Parker was quoted in the FT as saying, ‘Make no mistake, companies the likes of Shell and BP are already ushering in the twilight years.’ In their twilight years, maybe the majors need the theater of a major downtown location more than ever.

* I am of course supposing that the geoscientists and engineers are lucky enough to still have a job. My sympathies to those who are currently ‘resting’, as they say in the theater.


Book Review: How to Store C02 Underground

Philip Ringrose’s new book, ‘How to Store CO2 Underground: Insights from early-mover CCS Projects’ is a clear, well-illustrated summary of the geological and engineering aspects of CO2 sequestration. Ringrose, who shares his affiliations between NNTU, Equinor and the University of Edinburgh, acknowledges a bias towards Norwegian and European projects and Equinor’s CCS operations. However as these, especially Equinor’s, are copiously studied and published, this is hardly a disadvantage. Ringrose’s ‘essential message’ is that the engineered geological storage of CO2 is a relatively straightforward and established technology which will be urgently needed in the coming decades.

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Total’s Digital Factory

Factory in downtown Paris to house its high profile ‘Digital At Total’ program, enthusiastically endorsed by CEO Patrick Pouyanné. The Factory is hiring.

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Open Subsurface Data Universe update

Energistics now ‘devoting almost its entire effort to OSDU’. OSDU to leverage PPDM standards and best practices. All Emerson/Paradigm software to run on OSDU. Member count now at 750.

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Microsoft Energy Core to harness AI/IoT in the cloud

MEC spans data-driven value creation for the oil field to ‘frictionless experiences’ at gas stations. An update of the erstwhile MURA?

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Energistics’ JSON style guide

Standards body to produce a how-to guide for converting its canonical XML upstream data exchange standards to JSON, as favored by OSDU and the data science community.

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Software, hardware short takes

Brüel & Kjær Vibro VCM-3. Blue Marble Geographic Calculator 2020. New CGG GeoSoftware tools. Cold Bore Technology Frac Action. Endress+Hauser Netilion IoT. Emerson Mimic Field 3D. Exprodat Exploration Analyst V2. Safe Software FME 2020. Honeywell Enraf Tank Inventory System. New Century Software Integrity Plus by MISTRAS. OAG Analytics raster image server. OriginLab 2020b. TRC Consultants PHDwin V3. New ResFrac version. ResInsight 2020.04. Rose & Associates RoseRA. Schneider Electric EcoStruxure IT Expert API. Siemens Sitrans LR100. VELO3D Sapphire.

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2020 Rice High Performance Computing in Oil and Gas conference

The 2020 Rice University (Houston) HPC in Oil and Gas conference was held as real event just before lockdown. Chevron presented an HPC facet of OSDU, the open subsurface data universe. Petrobras presented seismic trials of the Atrio Composable Cloud. Imperial College (London) gave an update on Devito, the BP/Shell-backed HPC Python framework, stressing the ‘growing importance of open source software in industry’.

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Folks, facts, orgs …

Albemarle Corporation, American Petroleum Institute, Black & Veatch, BP America, C.J. Hughes, Chemical Safety Board, Cynet, Petrofac, Equinor, IOGP, LYTT, Marathon, Nine Energy Service, National Oilwell Varco, Oceaneering, Okeanus, EagleClaw, OspreyData, Quality Companies, ResFrac, SeekOps, Sercel-GRC, Stratagraph, Tatanka Midstream, Cooper Oil and Gas, Aberdeen-based , AVC Immedia, Validere, Williams, Gaffney Cline, Vitol.

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Done Deals …

Agile Scientific/Software Underground. CUI Global/Orbital Energy Group. Forum Energy Technologies. Flotek Industries/JP3 Measurement. GoExpedi. Intelsat. KeyLogic Systems/OnLocation. Kongsberg Digital/NorSea Digital/KONCIV. Nabors Industries. NVIDIA/Mellanox. Pacific Drilling. Peloton/ExproSoft. ResFrac/Altira Group. VELO3D/Piva/Petronas. Weatherford.

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2020 ABC Pipeline Leak Detection Congress, Houston

Cheniere’s drone-based LIDAR for pipeline surveillance. OptaSense tests DAS at Brazil’s CTDUT facility. FlyScan’s airborne UV spectroscopy. Southwest Research Institute on machine learning on fiber optic/Lidar data. EERC’s iPIPE, the intelligent pipeline integrity program. HiFi Engineering/ExxonMobil trial of distributed fiber optic sensing.

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Total funds Cambridge Quantum Computing

Deal to adapt QCQ’s Eumen quantum chemistry algorithm to carbon capture, utilization and storage. CQC technology to run on ‘near-term’ quantum computers.

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Scouting the Permian from space

McKinsey uses artificial intelligence image processing to provide ‘absolute accuracy’ in identification of frack jobs, assets and equipment and new activity, twice monthly. 20% of new well pads cleared sans permit!

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ABC Wellsite Automation 2020, Houston

‘Simple and open’ MQTT spec to the fore at Wellsite Automation. Occidental gives a sneak peek at ISA112 Scada standard. Cirrus Link on MQTT/SparkPlug and the digital transformation of the oilfield. Red Bluff Resources’ comprehensive evaluation of the Scada market. MQTT key to Middle Fork Energy Partners’ Ignition Edge Scada upgrade. Vine Oil & Gas - machine learning for optimizing shale completions.

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Sales, partnerships

Arria/Tibco. Capgemini/SAP/Microsoft. Sword Venture/Target Energy Solutions. eDrilling/Total. CNPC Tarim/eDrilling. Equinor/Microsoft/Aibel. Fusionex/?. GSE Solutions/Shell. ICIS/Enverus. IDS/IADC. Implico/Evos. KBC/Rompetrol. Koch/C3.ai. Hibernia Resources/NarrativeWave. Energean/DUTH. Petrofac/BP. CNX/Quorum. Recon Technology/CNPC/Grand Energy Development. Rotork/?. SAP/Accenture/ConocoPhillips/Shell. Sercel/Sinopec Geophysical. SparkCognition/OSDU. TC Energy/Amazon. Woodside/TechnipFMC . Teledyne Marine/WesternGeco. VELO3D/Knust-Godwin. Emerson/YPF.

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Standards stuff …

Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation publishes Legal Entity Identifier taxonomy, we investigate its relationship with ISO 8000-116. XBRL US Data Quality ruleset. ECCMA on the 2019 ISO 8000-116 ‘authoritative’ legal entity identifiers. US SEC updates Edgar filers’ Test Suite. Open Geospatial Consortium seeks comment on candidate CDB V1.2 standard for data management in high-fidelity simulations. OGC also publishes outcomes of its Testbed-15earth observation/web service/cloud trial. Energistics’ candidate V3.0 release of Practical Well Log Standard. PPDM and OSDU, Well Status & Classification V3. SEG Technical Standards committee announces SEG-Y Release 2. International Industrial Internet Consortium’s security maturity framework. OPC Foundation rolls-out OPC UA Safety Release 1.00. OPC president on the downside of the user group boom. Object Management Group forms Digital Twin Consortium.

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2020 Underground Injection Control Conference

The 2020 Underground Injection Control Conference was held under the auspices of the US Groundwater Protection Council in San Antonio, Texas earlier this year. A new tax regime in the USA is designed to encourage carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) with perhaps more of an emphasis on the use of CO2 in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) than is seen in other jurisdictions where the simple ‘sequestration’ of the greenhouse gas is an end in itself. ExxonMobil/Texas RRC on the need for ‘widespread CCUS deployment’. NETL on the ‘SMART’ initiative (science-informed machine learning to accelerate real-time decisions in subsurface applications). DNV GL on QA of CO2 storage. The DOE’s water security grand challenge. Advanced Resources International (ARI) on the CO2 SRMS, storage resource management system. ARI on turning CO2-EOR into ‘carbon-negative oil’.

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2020 NVIDIA Global Technology Conference

Online event hears from Halliburton on adding machine learning to DecisionSpace 365 real time well engineering. at the edge. Equinor’s U-Saltnet and feature pyramid attention network for salt body interpretation. Baker Hughes/C3.ai ‘Reliability’, deep learning-based anomaly detection for oil and gas. Total on GPU-based compute acceleration in seismic applications.

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2020 USPI-NL member meeting

USPI-NL floats Facility Lifecycle 3D model standard. Norske Shell transforms business with digital twin/engineering data warehouse combo. Evonik and Autodesk on DEXPI/CFIHOS alignment. PipeXperts/CEA on ‘Plant4D’, an open SQL database for storing asset data. Croonwolter&dros floats a USPI implementation guide for starting on the systems engineering journey based on Norway’s READI ‘required asset digital lifecycle information JIP’.

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Back to school …

AVEVA adds Axonify’s microlearning to unified learning platform. Barco expands weConnect enterprise video learning environment with Panopto video. Shell signs five-year deal for GSE Systems EnVision cloud-based learning simulator. Honeywell to offer training needs assessment at automation college. IOGP Reports on enhanced well control training. Immersive ‘Virtual EDGE 3D’ gamified training from Norwell. Siemens adds Sitrain Access learning to Digital Industry Academy.

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EniSpace

A collaborative platform for ENI’s suppliers invites participation in a ‘sustainable transition’.

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NORCE OpenLab drilling simulator

Grand opening showcases Norway’s 50 million NOK drilling simulator. OpenLab leverages earlier work on DDH, the drilling data hub, and a ‘semantic’ description of drilling signals.

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Geoscience clouds

Cegal announces GeoCloud a ‘vendor-agnostic’ petrotechnical cloud. BearingPoint teams with French startup Geoxilia on a LakEasy, a geosciences data lake.

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Going, going, green…

Hydrogen: Canada’s Transition Accelerator to advance Albertan hydrogen economy. DNV GL reports on hydrogen’s central role in oil and gas industry decarbonization. Eneco joins Neptune Energy in PosHYdon offshore green hydrogen project. Emissions: IOGP and Geocento report on airborne and satellite environmental monitoring. Environmental Defense Fund’s MethaneSAT to launch in 2022. Gaffney Cline discusses EDF report on methane data credibility. ExxonMobil’s framework for methane regulation. EPA notice on controlling air pollution in the oil and natural gas industry. Kayrros uses Sentinel-5P satellite data to pinpoint sources of emissions. Qnergy’s ‘CAP3’ low emissions pneumatics sees investment from OGCI. CO2 capture & storage: Global CCS Institute report on the value of carbon capture and storage. Equinor reports successful Northern Lights test drill. McguireWoods provides guidance on update to the US IRS carbon capture tax credit regime. Global CCS Institute explains US 45Q tax credit for CCS. Advanced Resources on CCS in the electricity industry under section 45Q tax credits. Bureau of Economic Geology presents research into offshore CCS. Chevron Technology Ventures to trial Svante’s large-scale CCS technology. Reporting: API, IPIECA, IOGP on sustainability reporting guidance for the oil and gas industry. Global Association of Risk Professionals to offer Sustainability and Climate Risk certificate. France’s Autorité des Marchés Financiers to tackle greenwashing in asset management. EU taxonomy of environmentally sustainable economic activities. New IOGP website for environmental performance data.

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Regulatory round-up

Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission reports on idle and orphaned oil and gas wells. The Consumer Watchdog calls for California explorers to provide clean-up bonds before new wells are approved. 400-page report from Alberta Energy Regulator covers oil, gas and bitumen metrology and regulation. IDDRI study compares international oil and gas regulations. Texas RRC announces CASES public energy portal. RRC outlines drone surveillance program. RRC adds voluntary cleanup and brownfield response data to public GIS map viewer. Alberta Energy Regulator releases Athabasca and Cold Lake core descriptions and geophysical logs. Norwegian Petroleum Directorate publishes high resolution core images of 94 shallow wellbores in the Norwegian and Barents Seas.

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2020 Open Porous Media project

OPM project ‘encourages open innovation and reproducible research for modeling and simulation of porous media processes’. Equinor on open source, open data, ResInsight, GNU Octave integration, IFEM, the isogeometric toolbox and FLOW, a fully-implicit, black-oil simulator. TNO on salt-in-tubulars joint industry project. BigDataAccelerate speeds OPM runtimes with Xilinx Alveo FPGA. OPM-OP presents OPMRUN (a clone of Schlumberger’s ECLRUN) that leverages the Apache velocity template language.

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