Handling digital oilfield data

The increased use of new and emerging digital technologies could potentially boost world oil reserves by 125 barrels over the next five to 10 years, according to a study by Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

The increased use of new and emerging digital technologies could potentially boost world oil reserves by 125 barrels over the next five to 10 years, according to a study by Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

But organizations seeking to achieve the digital oilfield to monitor and control oilfield activities from the office face several challenges in data management and storage, says Victor Grinshtein, president and co-founder of utility computing provider, Xvand Technology Corp.

Xvand is a Houston IT outsourcing provider of IsUtility (www.isutility.com), which, for a monthly fee, will provide and support an information infrastructure for a business.

“Interestingly enough, many of the obstacles in achieving a digital oilfield come as a result of the advancements in digitizing the oilfield,” Grinshtein says.
“The energy sector is one of most capital-intensive on the planet, and the stakes are high to produce quicker and more accurate data sets. New technological advancements prompt the need for organizations to invest in computer hardware to meet these demands,” he says. “This hardware must also be backed up, verified, managed - and prepared for disaster recovery in Houston – thus, exponentially increasing the capital investment.”

New and old data. “The rapid progression of tools and software used to manage the many facets of the oil field has produced more data sets than ever before. With much of the concentration focused on outdistancing the competition, organizations may find themselves grappling with how to manage the mass influx of this data,” he says.

According to Strategy Business magazine, the industry is projected to spend more than $1 billion over the next five years on digital oilfield investments, including hardware, software and network support, he adds.
“Because of these technological innovations, the increased demand for oil has created paradigm shift in the area of IT infrastructure to redevelop old oil fields,” he says. “This can comprise years’ worth of data.”

Grinshtein says companies are now housing thousands of different data sets – exponentially more than any other time in history.
“Each discipline within the organization — whether it’s a geophysicist or a drilling engineer ¬— must have easy access to the data to efficiently process, manage and optimize it,” he says. “The systemization of the data management process is crucial, requiring an efficient IT infrastructure.”
In addition, he notes, improved communication between remote drilling locations and the office allow companies to more efficiently fix problems as they arise. The need for remote PC support, especially in the field or out on a rig has greatly increased.
Grinshtein says there are “orders-of-magnitude improvements on the horizon” for computer imaging, simulation and visualization, but “optimization of this data comes down to one factor: data management.”

Data management and storage. “All the data in the world is useless if not properly managed. Organizations must create processes for managing data or run the risk of having it misplaced or lost. In a world of real-time accessibility, inaccessibility of any magnitude can cause great damage. The damage is compounded if data is corrupt or falls into the wrong hands,” he says.
Federal legislation and network security. “Many organizations are mandated by law to report to federal organizations, such as the Mineral Management Services,” he says. “Compromised or lost data can result in serious complications. Publicly traded companies or those that conduct business with them have the added responsibility of complying with legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley, further increasing the risk.”

Companies can overcome issues with data storage and management can be overcome, Grinshtein says, by accessing any of an array of Houston computer services that take over their computing requirements and provide an IT infrastructure. The utility model enables better data management, protection and support while creating a more predictable IT budget.

“With the advancement of the Internet, organizations are no longer required to invest more capital in on-site computer systems to meet demand,” he says.
“The organization has the advantage of a low or no capital cost to make use of hardware storage and capacity,” he says. “And companies with a sudden peak in demand can avoid the delays that would result from physically acquiring and integrating a large number of computers.”

Grinshtein quotes the head of Cambridge Energy’s digital oilfields program: “Ten years from now, the most advanced oil companies will be running everything from a single location, where they can concentrate data and computing power, as well as knowledge. It’s the logical final step.”

See the full Houston Business Journal article at: http://houston.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2008/11/17/focus22.html
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