Open Sourced: Oil Companies Enter the World of Data-Sharing

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For years, the oil and gas industry has compiled massive amounts of data, but was unsure of what to do with it. What can be done with literally terabytes of information collected over such a long time? Michael Jones and his associates at Landmark claim to have found the answer.

Jones, the senior director of strategy at a software company called Landmark, began working on the project about a year ago and finally revealed it this week at the company’s Innovation Forum and Expo, held at a northwest Houston-area Westin hotel. DecisionSpace is Landmark’s new platform into the cloud. Users will be able to alter, use, and make additions to the platform as necessary. “Everyone is going to use this code,” Harold Mesa said, “Ten years from now, everyone will use DecisionSpace.” Mesa is the vice president of Halliburton, the company that oversees Landmark.

Ken Tubman, Conoco’s subsurface VP, has been quoted as saying that big data assisted ConocoPhillips in well-drilling faster than ever before. It now takes hours to complete tasks that once took several weeks. Big data is also responsible for aiding liquefied natural gas firms in detecting plant issues and helping plants to evade shut-downs. Johan Nell, leader at Accenture, said shut-downs can cost plants up to $25 million a day. The key, says Nell, is studying the data that companies gather. It’s even more important now that the price of oil is half of what was a mere two years ago.

“We have to find a way to do more with what we have, or even more with less,” Nell said at the expo, “We don’t have the luxury of inefficiency.”

On Wednesday, a group of executives openly discussed the value of Landmark’s collaborative now known as the OpenEarth Community. Leaders from Shell, Statoil, Anadarko, and Baker Hughes were among the dozen on the panel. Senior vice president of IHS Markit, David Hicks, said he was given a set of colored pencils when he started many years ago. “Things have certainly gotten better,” he said on the panel, “But, really, when I look at data quality and data management, we still have a lot of opportunities here.”

Hicks thinks that the industry wastes time just collecting data and that it should spend more time studying the data it collects. He said of the group, “It’s an excellent time to finally bring this together.”

It’s not yet clear what Landmark’s opponents will do should companies begin using OpenEarth. Schlumberger was markedly absent from the panel and conference. Head of Halliburton’s digital operations (including Landmark), Nagaraj Srinivasan, confessed that its main opponent had not been invited. However, Srinivasan also told the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday that Halliburton was open to having Schlumberger participate.

OpenEarth’s Jones said that the industry has less money to spend to fix more difficult issues. “If you don’t innovate, you’ll be gone in 10 years,” Jones said, “This isn’t business as usual for us.” Jones said the platform will be ready to go to market sometime next January.

By Briana Steptoe.

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