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How Centrica manages seismic data

Friday, February 21, 2014

UK oil and gas Centrica recently undertook a program to completely clean up its seismic data, wells data and reservoir models. Chief subsurface technologist Jane Hodson explained how it works

UK oil and gas operator Centrica, one of the top 3 gas producers in the UK, recently undertook an extensive program to clean up and organise its seismic data and well data, and implement structured workflows to make sure everything will be properly managed in future.

The company's seismic data store had been made very complex following a number of acquisitions, which meant data, was in many different formats and organisational systems, said lead subsurface technologist Jane Hodson, speaking at the Digital Energy Journal November Aberdeen conference, 'managing seismic data'.

Centrica acquired Venture Production in 2009 and ConocoPhillips' interests in the Statfjord field, covering both the Norwegian and UK sectors of the North Sea, in 2012.

'What happens when you grow exponentially is your data grows with you,' she said.

'Companies spend millions of pounds on acquiring and processing seismic so they should take the time to manage it effectively and not waste the investment. It can be held in various regional offices and offsite locations, this was the same for Centrica, even to being found under people's desks,' she said.

Starting in 2009, Centrica decided it needed a better long term seismic data management strategy.

Work to develop the new strategy started with a series of workshops, covering all types of subsurface data (including well data), with all subsurface staff involved, including geophysicists, petroleum engineers, geologists and data managers, around 150 staff members in total.

There was a lot of enthusiasm for a company wide data management strategy, Ms Hodson said.

Seismic data 'is the most critical asset for the geoscientist,' she said. 'They need to know what they've got and where it is so they can use it.'

Quality control is critical - without it, it might mean that the interpreter doesn't know about any problems with the data, they, do a static model, then a dynamic model, then drill a well, and the oil isn't there and it might be all down to not checking the Coordinate System at the start. Or you spend a lot of money acquiring data which you find you can't work with.

One of the biggest benefits is that people have much more trust in the data, so are happy doing more with it, she said. 'That's the key - that's the new mantra in Centrica.'

Data clean-up and catalogue

One of the first steps was for the company to go through all of its seismic data, identified it, catalogue it and rename it.

Centrica cleaned up its well data, finding a service company to go through the data for every single well.

It developed a company-wide catalogue of data, with work starting in 2011 and taking a year to complete.

'We catalogued everything - metadata, documentation that goes with it - processing report that goes with seismic,' she said. 'You need to understand how they shot in in the first place.'

Core Application

When the project started, the company was using a plethora of subsurface software. 'We had every kind of database and software application that you could think of and I know them all,' she said.

The company wanted to create a toolkit that best fit the end user, and staff members chose one product as their Core application because it fitted best with their workflows. This was Petrel.

So we then created 'master reference projects' to hold realised seismic volumes and locked this down for read only access. This means that there is no duplication of data as they have to reference it all.

Centrica can now also track the projects, monitor project usage, numbers and data reference transfers.

Sometimes seismic data can have loading issues and we have to turn to other products and ultimately if they do not work it goes back to where it came from and we ask them to re-send it.'

Standard lifecycle

Centrica also implemented a standard system for how it will handle incoming seismic data, covering acquisition or purchase, processing, delivery, publishing and archiving, she said.

When seismic is delivered to the company, it first goes to a technologist to load up into the corporate system, not to the geophysicist who commissioned it or who will be working on it.

Centrica has a team of technologists who are trained in loading seismic data. Before loading the data they do some quality control, including ensuring the seismic ties to well and rejecting it otherwise.

Geophysicists are not allowed to order their own seismic data, they can browse but then they put their order in through the function support team. 'We encourage the Geophysicist to work with us on what they need,' she said.

Once loaded and initial QC completed, the seismic data is then sent to the geophysicist for further quality control and sign-off.

After that, the geophysicists 'can go and interpret to their heart's content because they can trust the data,' she said.

If people do not follow policies, or load up seismic data on the system which is not supposed to be there, then function support team 'can actually track it down and put it where it belongs,' she said. 'We are literally the seismic police in Centrica.'

'This is the full lifecycle in Centrica now and its working,' she said.

Data storage

The data is stored on an EMC Isilon server, which has 150 terabytes of storage space, and can be scaled up to 15 petabytes.

The server is locked down, which means that no-one can change the data in it except data administrators.

People are not allowed to make copies of the seismic - so they can only use the master reference copy.

Everybody who might need to reference the seismic data in a Petrel project has a 10 gbps data communications connection, so they can retrieve the data quickly.

All of the original (tape) seismic data is stored by a company called Ovation Data (previously called DPTS), so everyone knows where to find it. Ovation Data is implementing a map / GIS system which will enable people to see what seismic data the company has on a map. So if the company finds it has lost some original seismic data it can get a backup copy from Ovation Data.

Associated Companies
» Centrica
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