- Instant access to everything

“We have extensive international experience in handling large geoscience databases spanning hundreds of petabytes.

This allows us to offer Diskos members significant savings and increased productivity, while enabling them to share all exploration data from a single site with immediate access,” says Kerry Blinston, Global Director of Technology Solutions – Data Management Services in CGG.

Kerry Blinston


< The faster we identify the needs of the future, the earlier we can meet them,” says Kerry Blinston, CGG’s Global Director of Technology Solutions.
(Photo: Emile Ashley).


“We have spent most of our time since winning the contract in December 2013 on implementing our systems in Diskos, building up an infrastructure, purchasing, quality assessment and data verification, copying and loading. Operation of the database started in January of this year, and the contract runs to the end of 2020. The system also includes production data, in addition to seismic and well data.

Kerry Blinston splits the start-up process into three parts:

1: In January 2015, transfer of the Diskos data from the previous operator’s (Landmark) data centre to CGG’s data systems was complete, following value estimation, verification and copying.

2: The next critical step was to move all of the data over to CGG’s infrastructure, with back-up copies. In a process like this, it is extremely important to make sure there are no weak points, and that the data remains under constant protection against any and all types of incidents or catastrophic events.

3: It quickly became apparent that there was a need to replace or supplement all of the relevant systems to ensure optimal utilisation. This came as no surprise to CGG. This is exactly what Blinston and his eight colleagues at the office in Stavanger have been working on since February of last year – and the work is still proceeding at full speed. CGG has offices at Ipark in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s neighbourhood at Ullandhaug.



SIGNING OF CONTRACT: NPD signed the new Diskos contract with CGG on December 3, 2013. Back row from left : Henri Blondelle (CGG) , Ian Moores (CGG), Jan Bygdevoll (NPD) , Kjell Arne Bjerkhaug (KADME) , Ola Thuen Neergaard (PWC) . Front row, from left : Elin Aabø Lorentzen (NPD) , Eric Toogood (NPD) , Kjell Reidar Knudsen (NPD) , Bente Nyland (NPD) , Kerry Blinston (CGG) , Stephen Gallant (CGG) , Morten Taksrud (PWC).
(Photo: Rune Goa).



To ensure the best possible performance of the contract, CGG has selected two main partners for the Diskos contract. Kadme, a Norwegian software company, is familiar with Diskos from previous work, and will add local expertise to the project.

The other main local partner is Evry, a major Nordic IT company, which will be responsible for the physical IT infrastructure and will host the Diskos solution. Evry is located at Forus, and Blinston says that the company lives and breathes IT infrastructure, is familiar with the local market, and has offices that are well-suited for these tasks, both in terms of practicality and security.

Some of the data from the members comes in to Evry via the internet, but most is received in physical format, as tapes that are loaded into large disc and tape robots. These are controlled by CGG from Ullandhaug as regards description and ownership, etc. before they are loaded into the databases where users can extract copies. The primary data storage is in Green Mountain Data Center, the former underground submarine hall on Rennesøy island near Stavanger, while the back-up-storage facility is at Evry at Forus.

The CGG contract has increased automation as regards uploading and downloading data. While these were previously manual operations to some extent, the data parameters are now quality-assured instantly online. Use of more fine-grained standards also makes it easier to retrieve the data, and to understand it. These improvements also make it easier for the NPD to check that it is receiving all the information it should be getting according to the companies’ own descriptions of the operations.

“Another good news in the contract with CGG is that standard downloading of well data is now free. Even though it was not particularly expensive before either, we don’t need to charge for services that don’t cost us anything,” says Blinston. However, users will have to download the information themselves.

“My job in CGG is mainly linked to the so-called Technology Solutions business, where the customers can benefit from several of the services we offer, just like for Diskos. In short - Data Management Services handles that data throughout its entire lifecycle. We extract the raw data, perform quality control and manage the data bases, standardise, analyse, interpret and follow up the data on behalf of the users all the way to the end of the process when the data is destroyed,” says Blinston, who lives in Wales, but commutes regularly to Norway and CGG at Ullandhaug.



“We have pledged to offer our users a broader range of functions than they currently have. Many are sceptical when it comes to applying solutions they don’t use themselves, but our experience is different. When they start to use the new systems, that’s when they realise what they have been missing all along. A lot of this is already included in the contract; however, in time CGG will also offer new services based on what the Diskos reference groups define as essential to advance the programme. The faster we identify the needs of the future, the earlier we can meet them,” says Kerry Blinston.

One of the solutions CGG is working on is to let the customers integrate metadata and common functionalities into their own user interface enabling them to evaluate and order data from their own systems. One such example is geographic map packages linked directly to the desired data. It’s all about having the fewest possible steps to achieve maximum information. Blinston calls this “workflow integration”, in contrast to systems where users have to log on to the respective databases to search for and extract data via discs or tapes. Now everything can be done directly from the user’s own keyboard. CGG and it’s partners develops the technology that is part of the contract, but the customers have to find out the best way to use it.



After 20 years of operation, Diskos is one of the world’s largest national databases when it comes to seismic, well and production data. Recent years have seen explosive development in the volume of data which takes the graphic form of a horizontal hockey stick. As of the end of 2013, the database contained 400 terabytes. The following year this had risen to nearly1.2 petabytes and by year-end 2015 the figure will probably be around 2.2 – 2.5 petabytes. This represents a 5-6-fold increase over two years. It is estimated that the data volume could grow by another 20-30 petabytes during the course of the six-year contract.

“Not a problem,” according to Blinston, who tells us that CGG has built a new, flexible infrastructure architecture which meets all the requirements for greater volume, cost-efficient storage and frequent connections from users. These solutions have been custom-developed for Diskos, but also contain elements from CGG’s activities elsewhere around the world. The challenges have been solved through extensive use of automation and new price models based on how often the data is used. The challenge associated with all of the data that is not used as frequently is how to store them at a low cost, but in a way that still allows rapid access when requested. Data that is used often must be available immediately – and therefore costs more,” Kerry Blinston explains.

CGG has two types of operational software that work together to resolve all of these issues. One of them is Kadme’s WhereOil program which crawls through CGG’s databases and shows users what is available. After they make their order in WhereOil, it is forwarded to CGG’s own custom-developed Trango software, which is the operational part of the system that completes the job.



In addition, CGG also works extensively with socalled big data technology. The basis here is that most of the data is captured or locked in different file systems that cannot easily be coordinated. CGG has undertaken an international effort to break down these barriers and has arrived at a mix of manual and automatic processes to extract synergies the human brain does not have the capacity to discover.

“This is not part of the contract, but it is part of our vision. We don’t think all companies will want to spend a lot of money on this type of analysis now, but if we can find and visualise interesting and predictive geological patterns and trends, the companies could achieve substantial time savings and security benefits when they design their drilling programmes. We cannot offer this service right now, but if anyone wants it, we could have it up and running in 12-18 months. How long it might take before the system is in regular conventional use will depend on the price of oil and other trends in the oil industry. But I am thinking 2-4 years. That means that Diskos has the chance to be the first in the global
oil industry to start using this system,” says Blinston,
who notes that this analytical tool is already used in
other sectors, such as the aerospace who cooperate
on aircraft engine maintenance.