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Energistics - revising the standards architecture

Friday, November 27, 2015

Oil and gas data standards body Energistics has revised the architecture behind the standards, which should make building new software based on the standards much easier.

Oil and gas data standards body Energistics has implemented a major revision behind its standards, WITSML (drilling data), PRODML (production data) and RESQML (reservoir data).

It will establish a common technical architecture behind the standards, which will mean that software is structured in standard 'data objects'. This should make it much easier to build software using data in the standard formats.

This will mean that (for example) information about the drilling (from WITSML) could be incorporated as part of the reservoir model (in RESQML). It could lead to the point where all of the standards covering the well lifecycle basically become one.

The first to be released was version 2 of RESQML published in September 2014, with version 2 of WITSML in early 2016, followed by version 2 of PRODML.

The new versions of the standards will also come with 'Energistics Transfer Protocol', which supports real time streaming of data. With previous versions, the data exchange was 'call and respond', where one system would request data and the other would send it. With the new version, the data exchange will be continuous, supporting much higher frequency data. This means that computer systems can be continually updated with live data.

The company recently appointed a new CEO, Ross Philo. Mr Philo is a former CIO of Maersk Oil in Denmark, where he oversaw a global SAP rollout. He has also held CIO leadership roles as a member of the executive team at Halliburton, USPS and FTSI.

Energistics plans to increase the number of training courses it runs, showing people how to get more out of the standards and apply them in their organisations. This will include sessions within a company and public sessions. 'We've recognised the need for training courses, we will be ramping that up next year,' Mr. Philo said.

Oil price and standards

The low oil price environment can be a big threat to organisations like Energistics, because it means that companies thinking short term are looking to cut costs wherever they can. They sometimes see membership fees of organisations like Energistics, and staff time to work on Energistics projects, as costs which can be cut, Mr Philo says.

But for companies thinking more long term, 'the application of standards is an incredibly powerful way to drive cost savings across the industry,' he says.

It is much easier to keep the data in your systems accurate when it is supplied in standard formats, and having reliably accurate data saves staff a lot of time.

'When your staff can find the data they need, they know it has come from a trusted source, and it is in a format which can be immediately incorporated into an application they are using, it means they become more productive,' he says.

'Anecdotally we've had stories from members saying they have saved tens to hundreds of millions of dollars because of improved efficiency, avoided software development, as well as direct time savings, because of data standards,' he says. 'It has improved the overall efficiency of their operations.'

'The seamlessness that Energistics brings to the industry reduces friction between companies.'

Many companies are looking at standards as 'the new innovation', he says. 'With standards in place a geoscientist can focus on what he or she does best. Rather than worry about the source of the data, they can focus on the innovation that their analysis brings to the table, helping them make good business decisions about prospective wells.'

Oil and gas data is extremely complex, with operational data changing in different time scales (for example you might record the temperature in the well every minute but record the drilling depth every hour). This has to fit with data describing the reservoir, which changes when someone makes a new reservoir model.

But where Energistics has already done the difficult work of defining the data models, building the software gets much easier.

Mr Philo disputes the commonly stated figure that geoscientists spend half their time looking for data, but he says it might be true that they spend half of their time addressing data issues,
such as where the co-ordinates are not correct. 'There's a lot of time spent validating the data in an interpretation,' he says.

'By relying on our three data standards, a geoscientist can trust the validity of the data as it is being presented and know these sorts of issues are already being addressed. They can become more productive and dramatically reduce the amount of data validation and data issues.'

Standards can have an impact after an accident, when there is a need for accurate data very quickly, he said. That's 'one area which is often overlooked.'

'When you are trying to act appropriately and ensure continued safe operations you have got to have trust in the data you are looking at.'

'There's a huge benefit in making sure that standards such as Energistics facilitates have been leveraged to bring together the data from a multitude of different systems.'

Persuading people

The industry sometimes seems divided between people who understand the benefit of standards and people who don't, and it is hard to convince the people who don't understand the benefits.

'One of the challenges we have [is that] it's very hard to get quantifiable case studies from companies about the value they've derived from using standards. It's often highly confidential and competitive information they don't want released,' he said.

'Many of the people who are really using these standards are at a middle management level or within the technical community of an oil and gas company or a service company. They realise that these standards are fundamental and an essential part of what they do on a day to day basis. [but] very often those same middle managers are having to persuade the executive management about the value of a continued membership of Energistics.'

'Part of my focus is to try to engage with senior managers to describe the value that their company is getting from the standards effort, and the participation that the employees are having in Energistics.'

Hopefully, 'the same executives can begin to champion the argument in the industry that standards are good for the industry as a whole.'

Also the current industry restructuring means that many Energistics champions within oil and gas companies are changing roles, or have less time to participate in Energistics workgroups.

More reliant on data

The current lean times are pushing companies to become more reliant on automation, remote monitoring and remote data capture systems, with a trend to more high frequency data sampling.

This all adds to the importance of standards, Mr Philo says. 'The data component is going to become more critical. You've got to manage and monitor the fields even if you've got fewer people.'

Associated Companies
» Energistics
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