Oil industry gets IT together…

Major oil companies are to begin sharing data from the North Sea via the internet. BP, Shell, Esso and Conoco are among those involved…

Major oil companies are to begin sharing data from the North Sea via the internet.The UK will be the first testing ground for web-based collaboration standards which the petrochemical industry hopes will eventually be adopted worldwide.

BP, Shell, Esso and Conoco are among those supporting the Well Header Standards project, which is being co-ordinated by Petrotechnical Open Software Corporation (POSC), an industry specifications body. The DTI is also involved in the scheme.

The three-month pilot project aims to create XML-based standards which allow companies to share basic oil well data at the exploration and production end of their operations.

In the offshore fields, producers and suppliers need access to significant amounts of common data – even if they are commercial rivals.

The different standards used by the many companies operating alongside each other in the North Sea have long been a major source of frustration to the industry. Oil and service companies frequently keep poor-quality, often duplicated records of the wells, with inconsistencies over names, locations and other basic information.

POSC claims the problem costs the global industry more than $50m a year, and believes that XML – which can create structured data from multiple sources – could provide the answer.

Once standards for the data have been agreed, the project aims to make it available as a common reference tool at a central web location serving each oil production area.

In the case of the UK Continental Shelf, this will be via the site of Common Data Access, the data organisation set up by the industry to promote collective data management.

The pilot scheme in the UK offshore fields will be followed almost immediately by one serving the Norwegian industry, with the Gulf of Mexico pencilled in as the third location.

On the web