- Diskos goes next level

12.10.2015
“We have big expectations for the new partnership agreement with CGG. The goal is to build on 20 years of success and bring Diskos to the next level,” says Diskos manager Eric Toogood, and points out several focus areas for the upcoming years:

Eric Toogood

Eric Toogood believes everyone benefits
from the Diskos business model. >

(Photo: Emile Ashley).

 

Metadata and navigation data are essential for effective exploration. Metadata deals with obtaining maximum information about the data, and the navigation data tells us exactly where on the globe the data originates. The more the users know about where, when, how and under what conditions the information was collected, the greater are the possibilities for placing the drill exactly where the oil is.

“Specifically, we can take a basis in a seismic vessel at sea,” explains Toogood. The sound waves that return and that are being interpreted are affected by a number of factors, such as where in the sea the ship is, the weather, wave height, ocean currents, temperature and salinity/density of water. All of this information can help in its own way to improve the quality of a geologist’s interpretation work.

There are a lot of stories from all over the world about wells that missed the reservoir by just a few metres, this has happened in Norway too. When each drilling operation costs hundreds of millions, efficient handling of metadata is essential, and could also result in major savings. “There are also examples of companies drilling in the wrong place in the block, but who still found oil, but this is most definitely the exception,” says Eric Toogood with a smile.

When offering a simple illustration of the useful value of metadata, he references Stavanger Taxi’s app for ordering a taxi. Many find that it lists the neighbouring house as the pickup address. This usually ends well for the person waiting for the taxi, but is a little too inaccurate for the oil explorers.

Another technology that could take Diskos further is related to the Big Data term. The Diskos database is one of the largest of its kind. It contains well data from the first drilling operations in 1966 and seismic data from 1980 (data from before 1980 has mostly been re-shot, with better quality). Up to today, the information has been collected using varying methods and technologies from the North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea. The goal is to use all of this information at the same time, across the ocean areas, and have the geologists on the lookout for similarities in patterns and trends that are hidden to even the most trained eye. When Big Data combines data storage structure and new software, it could result in information from the North Sea providing new plays in the Barents Sea, or the opposite.

 

LIVING DATA

Few other technologies have undergone bigger changes over the past decades than those relating to data. Most people over a certain age probably remember the Commodore PCs or other artefacts from the early ages. Much of this initial technology and equipment is no longer useable with the consequence that the relevant data is also no longer accessible. It is therefore an important challenge for Diskos to keep the old data alive so it can be used regardless of the technological development. It is impossible to predict just what the needs will be in 50 or 100 years from now. The only thing that is certain is that no one can rule out that the data from the Norwegian Shelf could also be an invaluable resource after the oil age.

The project manager notes that, just a few decades ago, hardly anyone imagined that the seismic and well data of the time would be used to locate potential CO2 storage sites in the subsurface. However, this is exactly what happened when the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, tasked by the Government, made a CO2 atlas of “available and sealed” reservoirs as a step in the carbon capture and storage debate.

Though this is not relevant in Norway, Toogood also references all of the knowledge 2-300 years of mining industry in the UK has generated without this being captured. Had this information been available today, it would most likely have made interesting contributions in the hunt for shale oil and gas, as an example.

 

WORKING IN THE CLOUD

Over the next 15 years, Toogood pictures a major increase in data volumes from the Norwegian Shelf as a result of the changes in the NPD’s reporting requirements and the steadily improving acquisition methods, for example in the continuously increasing volume of information per seismic second. This requires greater transmission capacity. So far, this interaction has been solved using increasingly thick fibre cables, to put it simply.

The principle is that the user, for example at Forus or Lysaker, uploads large data volumes from the storage at Rennesøy. With ever increasing data volumes in storage, this technology could become a bottleneck with regard to time. The solution could also be that the users, regardless of where they are located, work directly with the Diskos database where they also have their own storage. Somewhat like the cloud system for PCs and phones.

Diskos also contains quality-assured production data from the various fields on the Shelf. Before, only the NPD and licensees had access to this information, but members can now also gain access. Detailed information about how production has developed from the start may be very interesting to companies that are considering buying in to the fields.

 

INCENTIVES

The business model was made so it provides CGG with financial incentives to offer additional services in competition with others. This opens the door for even more and improved use of the stored data. The authorities’ mindset is that the more information is reused in different contexts, the cheaper and more efficient the exploration processes become – benefitting both companies and the authorities.

The fixed price system also entails that CGG needs fewer people to serve the users, which results in more profit. This means an increasing degree of self-service, which rewards companies with insight and efficiency.

“All of this reinforces the impression that everyone is in the same boat, both large and small users,” says Eric Toogood, who has the definite impression that all parties are satisfied with the current practice.

“The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate will not earn a profit from Diskos. In order to get the greatest possible activity in and out of the database, the authorities are concerned with keeping costs low. Luckily, things are moving in the right direction,” says project manager Eric Toogood, and compares the development with what happened within telephony. Before, people limited calls as much as possible and were hesitant to make long distance calls. Now that prices have dropped so much, very few give it any thought when they need to reach someone or something on the phone.

In line with the development in the data industry, Diskos has also benefitted from substantial capacity increase with associated declining prices for data storage, both on disc and tape. Where before truck loads were needed to move storage media, now tape cassettes that store up to 250 times more information than the old are used. Diskos data is currently stored both on disk and tape, disk provides quick access to data that is used frequently, while tape is suited well to store large volumes that are less ‘active’. The administration of data storage between disc and tape is optimised to reduce total operating costs.

 

THE NPD AS ADMINISTRATOR

Over its 20 years, the Diskos membership base has increased from 16 to 57 oil companies. The NPD has been there all along, and administers Diskos, which has two employees, project manager Eric Toogood and assistant project manager Elin Aabø Lorentzen. Their primary task is as the link between the members and CGG and Kadme, who won the contracts in 2013 and took over responsibility for development of the programmes and operation of the databases from 1 January 2015.

According to the current payment scheme for data, Statoil and the other major and well-established companies have the largest expenses related to Diskos because they add and retrieve the most data, both historically and currently. Generally, the scheme may seem more beneficial to smaller newcomers who, by buying into a licence, gain access to vast data volumes they have never before seen. But nothing is free. According to Eric Toogood, the seller of the ownership interests has already added the value of the Diskos access into the price paid by the newcomer. It is a win-win for the “old” companies in the licence if the newcomer meets its own expectations, puts old data into a new context and adds significant assets to the partnership.

 

Eric Toogood of the NPD is the Diskos project manager, seen here at the stage of Diskos’ back-up storage at EVRY at Forus

Eric Toogood of the NPD is the Diskos project manager, seen here at the stage of Diskos’ back-up storage at EVRY at Forus
(Photo: Emile Ashley)