Cracking Information Management?

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1 Cracking Information Management?

2 Article first published in Finding Petroleum, Feb 2007, Paul Cleverley Introduction UK / North American information management company Flare Solutions might have got closer to cracking the oil and gas information management challenge than any service company we have seen. There have been many attempts at information management in the oil and gas industry, but perhaps none have got so close to getting it right as Flare Solutions, with its web based information cataloguing tool, E&P Catalog. Shell International Exploration & Production started deploying the system in 2004, as part of a bid to try to reduce the amount of time users spent looking for information by 50 per cent. Shell now has 1.5 million documents and other items catalogued in its system, and it has been used by over 3,500 staff members, achieving significant reductions in staff search time. Flare is now rolling out EP Catalog across the whole of Shell E&P, working together with IBM Global Business Services, targeting exploration and development engineering staff. In December 2006, Flare and Shell won the British Computer Society (BCS) European 2006 Knowledge Management Project Award, for the system deployment. Flare and Shell were also highly commended for the intranet project award, and the content management project award. Flare also plans to release aspects of its data structure during 2007, under the custodianship of Energistics, so that the whole industry can benefit from it. E&P Catalog has already been integrated with a number of different systems, including Schlumberger DecisionPoint and Landmark TeamWorkSpace. Also the GIS based graphical systems ESRI and MetaCarta; the user can choose which assets they are looking up on a map, and then dig out the relevant documents using E&P Catalog Other integrations include EDMS? LiveLink document management software, and soon Enigma s PARS archiving system, and PetrisWINDS Enterprise including Recall. Catalogue The system builds a catalogue of a company s documents, archives and chunks of data. Flare treats them all as documents. Information catalogued includes reports, logs, reservoir models, project archives; databases, information about different people; even physical items such as cores. The documents are not held in any central location, but can be stored anywhere in the company (so long as they are accessible over the network). Critically, adopting E&P Catalog does not require that a company change anything about the way they store and manage access to documents; they can still be kept in different data stores around the company, with different access rights set to different documents. But the tool makes the documents easier to find. The catalogue holds information about the documents, for example which well, field, survey or license they refer to, who wrote it, what it is and what it is about. The right touch The trick to getting information management right is getting the touch right, Flare believes. Too many information management projects have failed, because they tried to model work processes too minutely, ended up telling employees to do things they didn t want to do, or ended up being too complex and creating too much work. Projects have failed because they tried too hard to index more information than was necessary, they treated data and documents differently, they were being pushed by the company IT department not senior management, and they needed lots of maintenance and classroom training for end users. Projects have failed because they ended up as Wiki/ Discussion type systems with no mechanism to differentiate between chat and important company information. Flare skirts around these problems in many clever ways. People carry on creating and retrieving documents much the same way as they always have done, but when they decide a document is good enough for the rest of the company to see it or know it exists, they type in indexing data telling the catalogue what the document is all about, essentially publishing the document to the rest of the company. The system does not try to index and catalogue every single byte of data in the company, but just documents and chunks of data considered important enough that people will want to refer to them in the future. This massively reduces the indexing workload. The quality of all the data can be recorded in the catalogue, so for example a user can tell if it is a final depth map which many people in the company worked on and approved, or something a geologist put together in an afternoon. The workflow to create and retrieve documents is kept as simple and light as possible, following processes and creating documents which every oil and gas company follows, rather than creating new processes.

3 Flare makes sure the project is driven by someone senior in the company, not by a junior IT manager. Search process You can search for documents in the EP Catalog web interface using four main methods from the catalogue web interface. Firstly, you can search by a word, similar to with Google, except that instead of getting your results in a list, you get your results in a table, so you can drill down and get the information you really want. Secondly, for high precision searches, you can select values in drop down menu bars and lists, and quickly find exactly what you are looking for. You can search for information geared around products (data, interpretations, reports); processes (activities, procedures, standards); people (personnel, organisations); tools (technology, applications). A typical search could start with the specific asset (well, field or survey), look for a context (e.g. geology or core or operations report or palynology ), then get the results. Thirdly you can find documents via hyperlinks with related documents. Fourthly you can set up your own searches, for example to always retrieve a specific set of documents for a well. The system has a knowledge map of what is related to what. For example if they type oil shale Russia in the search box, you might get documents about the Bazhenovka formation, because the computer understands that this is an oil shale in Siberia. Content can also be found (where relevant) via map interfaces. All of the documents are served up fully labelled. So for example, if a user has looked for all of the documents for a specific survey, they can immediately aware which documents represent the final outputs and which is intermediary work. You can see which documents have been approved and by who, and you can see the associated maps, and documents which were used to derive the conclusions, such as geological models, seismic interpretation, reservoir models and economic models. People also use the tool to search their own project information, as different people get involved with it, as it passes through the different stages of exploration, appraisal, development, projects and operations. Publishing The other side of the coin is publishing, when employees decide their work is ready to share with the rest of the company, and want to publish it in the catalogue, and index it accordingly. The document at this stage must be located in a secure repository which is accessible through the corporate network. Documents can be published and indexed by the individual user, or the software application it is in could be made to do the publishing. If the documents are already indexed in a certain software package, then E&P Catalog can be integrated with that. This is the list of some of the tags given to documents: bibliographic (title, description, author, owner, reference, language, source organisation, cross references, publishing date) document control information (owner, who approved it, how it will be retained records management codes, the security issues, if it is published, who reviewed it, revision number). context (asset it is linked to, product type (e.g. field development plan), discipline such as geological / geophysical, product group, subject matter (e.g. Roll-over anticline) usage (where the document is, what media it is on, the data format, URL deeplink to corporate database, external database) Doing the indexing work The first hurdle which many similar projects stumble at is the work of indexing all of the documents. This task can be done by the existing corporate library department, a dedicated indexing team, or the staff who create the documents can do their own indexing. By employing dedicated cataloguers who work directly with the project teams, you can index about ten times more documents than typically ever make it to central libraries. Most staff are happy to put a small amount of additional effort into cataloguing their own content, because they understand from their own experience how hard it can be to find the right documents. They also want to ensure that other people can quickly find and benefit from their work, particularly if another team takes over on the project at some point in future. It is possible to automatically classify certain documents, using a special tool which makes a best guess at adding a product type classification, discipline, subject domain matter and asset information. This can work for about 80 per cent of documents, Flare says.

4 Documents can be sent and catalogued automatically through web services / feeds. For example, there are sources of scout information (information about what other oil and gas companies are up to) sent by various agencies such as Deloitte, which oil companies can buy. This data is sent as a web service, and is immediately integrated into the Catalog, so it is automatically available together with other external and internal company information. The system does not try to tell people how they should undergo a complex working activity, such as interpreting seismic data, but tracks what they have done and stores their interpretations for future use. At a later stage, it is possible to draw charts, showing how long different stages took, what the hold-ups were, what the cost of them was, helping keep the overall process efficient. In the same way, information acquired from operations such as well drilling and reservoir management can be self-classifying using web services and the correct tags in the XML files so they appear in the catalogue in real time, differentiating interim and definitive final documents. This cuts the whole process of manual indexing out. Work processes The company has also built workflow engines around its catalogue, which provide people automatically with the documents they need for a particular routine. This is being used by one company to track the deliverables from its Top 70 field development projects around the world, by another to track well drilling and data acquisition. There are process steps, with templates for putting in documents, input documents available and required outputs. Graphical views show multiple project and process views. There are templates for searches, for example one which can bring up available technologies and techniques which should be considered at particular business stages. The trick, Mr Cleverley says, is to build systems at the right level, closely following the kind of big picture work processes which every oil company does, the big milestones and baton changes,? not trying to get into people s work too closely. Common workflows include: Prospect generation (seismic data acquisition, processing, interpreting, modelling); Optimising drilling (well planning, well engineering, drilling, operations monitoring, reporting); Field development planning (model building, well planning, facilities modelling, simulation); And real time field operations (field data capture, surveillance, intervention). Tasks which nearly all oil companies have include project framing sessions, peer reviews, integrated reviews, value assurance reviews, decision review boards to release funds for the next phase, after action review to capture learning. There are documents which need to be created and submitted at all of these stages, as well as the well, investment proposals, maps, field development plans.

5 About Flare Flare provides information management consulting, software solutions and related services to the E&P industry. Formed in 1998 by people with a background in geoscience and petroleum engineering Flare brings extensive industry experience gained at management, operations and technical levels, both within oil companies and the E&P service sector. The Flare team has developed consulting and services based on a practical, holistic approach to managing knowledge, information and data that focuses on real business needs. The same thinking is encapsulated within Flare s portfolio of software solutions. These include the Catalog for publishing and finding information, Tracker for organising deliverables and Cortex for classification and text analytics. These are all underpinned by Flare s comprehensive Taxonomies. We also have a range of specialised modules, including Emergency Response, Exploration Opportunity Manager and Wellfile. Since its formation Flare has worked on a broad range of projects with E&P organizations around the world and has gained a reputation for excellence and innovation. Engagements have ranged from information management strategy development, through data and information cleanup projects to software implementations and associated change management. Flare has worked with a wide range of organizations from small independents to large multinational oil companies as well as governments, services organizations and industry groups. Flare Solutions Limited Europe: Tel: Fax: North America: Tel:

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