Journal of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association Summer 2014

Page 1

Foundations Journal of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association

Volume 1 | Issue 2 | Summer 2014

Best in show Implementing best practices ensures a company’s data is managed in the most efficient way possible PLUS

Digital dozen A new well ID system promises less confusion and more efficient operations

Foundations Foundations: The Journal of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association is published four times per year by JuneWarrenNickle’s Energy Group. CEO Trudy Curtis

Table of contents Volume 1 | Issue 2 | Summer 2014


Best in show

Operations Coordinator Linda Salvail BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chair Trevor Hicks

Implementing best practices ensures a company’s data is managed in the most efficient way possible By Gordon Cope


Vice-Chair Robert Best Secretary Janet Hicks


Treasurer Peter MacDougall

From Houston to Paris, and back again

Standards and technology

Directors Trudy Curtis, Rusty Foreman, Paul Haines, David Hood, Allan Huber, Yogi Schulz, Joseph Seila

If you couldn’t attend the SLC forums in Houston or Paris, check out what you missed

Industry news and updates


By Claude Baudoin

Head Office Suite 860, 736 8th Ave SW Calgary, AB T2P 1H4 Email: Phone: 403-660-7817

Passing the threshold

CEO Bill Whitelaw

By Gordon Cope


SLC Corner

United front 18

Data management is one step closer to becoming an accredited profession


Digital dozen

Editor, Special Projects Rianne Stewart Contributors Claude Baudoin, Gordon Cope, Jim Crompton, Jerry Hubbard, Leisa Northcott Editorial Assistance Kate Austin, Laura Blackwood, Katy Jones

By Trudy Curtis and Jerry Hubbard

Creative Lead Cath Ozubko


A new well ID system promises less confusion and more efficient operations

Standards: Why not?

Data do-gooders


Data For Good Calgary hosts first official DataThon By Leisa Northcott

Upcoming events 30



The Standards Leadership Council is attacking data mismanagement by uniting the individual standards organizations

Community Involvement

President Rob Pentney



Find us at events and conferences around the world in 2014

By Jim Crompton

Graphic Designer Ginny Tran Mulligan Ad Traffic Coordinator Lorraine Ostapovich Advertising Nick Drinkwater, Account Manager Tel: 403-516-3484 Email: Calgary 2nd Flr-816 55 Ave NE Calgary, AB T2E 6Y4 Tel: 403-209-3500

Edmonton 220-9303 34 Ave NW Edmonton, AB T6E 5W8 Tel: 780-944-9333


The Professional Petroleum Data Management (PPDM) Association is a global, not-for-profit society within the petroleum industry that provides leadership for the professionalization of petroleum data management through the development and dissemination of best practices and standards, education programs, certification programs and professional development opportunities. For 25 years, the PPDM Association has represented and supported the needs of operating companies, regulators, software vendors, data vendors, consulting companies and management professionals around the globe.

Foundations | Summer 2014 | 3

Guest Editorial Standards: Why not? By Jim Crompton, data management and analytics consultant


“ If something is that important, someone would have fixed it by now.” — Stewart Robinson, U.K. Department of Trade

he oil and gas industry has been developing standards for quite a while. The Professional Petroleum Data Management Association was founded in 1991 after a Calgary-based oil company and several of its software suppliers recognized that a non-proprietary data model was preferable to separate and private models. Before that, the Petroleum Industry Data Exchange was formed as an API subcommittee in 1987; followed by the PetroTechnical Open Standards Consortium (POSC), the precursor to Energistics, in 1990; the POSC Caesar Association in 1993; and Pipeline Open Data Standards in 1998. Since those years, a great many volunteers have worked long hours in numerous committees, developing a large body of standards for our industry. And while there are many success stories, we still need to convince the industry to adopt our work in order to achieve the promised benefits of transparency, easier access to trusted data, productivity and integration. I would like to turn the tables on this argument and ask the industry: why not adopt standards? I picked up a great quote from Stewart Robinson from the U.K. Department of Trade at an Energistics Summit a couple of years ago. Here is what I now refer to as Robinson’s Law: “If something is that

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important, someone would have fixed it by now.” We are constantly asking for standards to lower the transaction costs of exchanging and reformatting data, and in deploying new technology, but we spend almost equal amounts of energy coming up with reasons not to deploy the standards that are proposed. Often, standards are seen as a barrier to innovation, yet standards can be a platform for the things we all agree on to allow critical innovations to be built more rapidly to really create competitive advantage. Standards groups are criticized for moving too slowly and are outpaced by the development cycles of commercial vendors, yet when it comes time to provide resources to help develop standards or to assign resources to projects that deploy standards inside an organization, priorities are usually lower for these projects and rewards lower for those who propose them. Everyone wants standards­—it’s just that they want their own standards and resist ones that are forced on them by others. Some cultures seem inclined to promote the collaboration that develops and adopts standards (in my experience, Europe) and other cultures want to try to do everything independently first, and only when that has failed turn to a more standard, shared approach (in my experience, the United States).

The challenge of adopting standards can be broken down into the following five categories:

1. WHO OWNS STANDARDS? The answer to this question will identify the decision maker. Are standards owned by the business, a functional discipline or IT? Are standards driven by central mandate push or distributed demand pull? Are standards directed for the enterprise or for specific disciplines? What is the governance for establishing standards, monitoring compliance and looking after the life cycle of standards? One exception to the case for ownership of standards is when the standard is mandated by a government regulatory agency. In this case, deployment seems straightforward enough, until a company is working across multiple regulatory bodies with different standards for the same item (Well Government ID, for example). One thing that helps in the uptake of standards is establishing a standard that has the ability to adapt to accommodate local differences.

2. COST OF CHANGE VERSUS BENEFITS OF STANDARDS A company has to answer the question “What is in it for me?” Too often, the people who benefit from standards are not the ones that have to bear the majority of the costs (e.g., standardize data collection in the field

so that technical analysis for asset team experts will be easier). Benefits can be realized in productivity, lower support costs, decision quality, accelerated technology deployment and shorter learning curves for new employees. However, you have to dig a little deeper and see where the benefits fall and where the change has to happen.

3. WHO PAYS FOR CHANGE? The inertia of a legacy solution or a diversity of current solutions is a large barrier to overcome. Funding, not only for any capital and expense but for the time involved, is an important factor. If a project promises more production, it goes to the head of the queue. If a project promises greater standardization, it falls to the bottom. For data standards, the explosive growth of data suggests that the problem of implanting standards gets more difficult every day. Is the sponsor only a thought leader and not the funder? Is the cost a one-time charge or an ongoing user fee and maintenance activity?

4. WHERE DO YOU START? This question applies to specific data and technology areas within a specific organization. Do you start at the present and move forward or try to go back and incorporate historical data into the new standard? Do you start with new capital projects or reach back into ongoing businesses? Do you

start with finance or with human resources or with supply chain to develop a solid commercial base for operations? Or do you focus on key technical data such as wells, reservoir, facilities or equipment?

5. PLAN FOR A JOURNEY, NOT A RACE The standards effort has to be a sustainable change, not a project event. Like staying on a diet, this type of change program is hard to stick with. It requires not only a new technology, but a new set of behaviours. There must be an executive sponsor, the necessary priority and deployment plan, a credible value proposition (not just a standard for standard’s sake), defined accountability and the needed resources. These are difficult questions with no easy answers. Deploying standards is not an easy task in a global and diverse industry such as oil and gas. But if we apply Robinson’s Law when standards are valuable, then we should act and find ways to address the challenges and move forward. If the value proposition for a proposed standard is strong enough, why not adopt existing standards and move forward on top of them? If the business case is not strong enough, we need to recognize that reality and develop ways to make standards more valuable to the business community and create better ways to make them easier to adopt.

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Standards & Technology

NEWS Public petroleum data model version 3.9 released

P H O T O : T H E P P D M A S S O C I AT I O N

The PPDM Association has released PPDM 3.9, a data model standard used by industry to manage exploration and production data. New and expanded subject areas have been developed by the PPDM Association via working groups and industry consultation. Key changes in the data model include: • W hat is a Well: complete support for the well components defined at; • Well status: improved support for mapping complex well status and classification values to the faceted taxonomies defined at The contents of these taxonomies are currently in revision (to participate, please visit the website); • Sample management: an improved sample management subject area allows you to create a sample master, including data such as: » How and where the sample was collected, including relationships to the relevant well or wellbore, land right and measured section;

Energistics announces new board member Energistics has announced the election of Vasu Guruswamy, vice-president of services with Schlumberger Information Solutions, to its board of directors. With a background in chemical engineering, Guruswamy has been with Schlumberger since 1984, holding

» How and where the sample is stored; » W hat studies have been conducted using portions of each sample; and » Information about the creation of composite samples and details about standard samples. • Sample analysis: information about sample analysis, divided into four key subsections: » Information about the preparation or treatment of a sample; » Measurements taken before, during or after any preparation or treatment step; » Additional meta-information about each measurement or calculation. For example, problems encountered with the analysis and remedial steps taken; and » Information for the purpose of validating or verifying data as it is loaded into analysis tables. • Products and substances expanded and integrated: the updated substances subject area allows users to include more detailed descriptions about substances, including chemical characteristics of substances and their behaviour or functions. The PPDM 3.9 documentation is available to guest, individual and corporate members of the PPDM Association at

positions such as wireline petrophysicist, North Sea operations manager and global services operations manager in that time. “We welcome Vasu to the board of directors, and we look forward to his continuing contributions toward standards development and adoption,” says Jerry Hubbard, president and chief executive officer of Energistics.


Attendees of the Ocean Star field trip with Trudy Curtis (centre), chief executive officer of the PPDM Association.

2014 Houston Data Management Symposium wraps up The annual PPDM Association Symposium and Workshop took place in Houston on March 24–26. Over 200 data managers attended the conference, which included a full day of workshops on March 24 followed by a field trip to Galveston, Texas, to tour the Ocean Star. Day one workshop topics included the role of data management in business, the use of geographic information systems for oil and gas activities, and the importance of understanding well locations correctly and consistently. The following two days of the conference were structured to be highly interactive, and delegates were invited to socialize at Top Golf, a state-of-the-art driving range, and at a gala dinner hosted by the PPDM Association. Day two and three seminar topics included geosteering, data management for unconventional data, units of measure and data quality. Other talks focused on communicating with business users, data governance, data standards and data management as a professional discipline. The next PPDM Association workshop takes place June 3 in Oklahoma City and June 5 in Denver.

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Standards & Technology

NEWS NDR2014 to take place in Azerbaijan

Energistics releases 19115-1 international standard Energistics has published the Energy Industry Profile (EIP) of ISO 19115-1. The company released the EIP as an open, non-proprietary meta-data exchange standard, with the goals of ensuring standards and guidelines for discovering, evaluating and retrieving from a wide variety of sources, supporting proprietary management needs and the exchange of information between organizations and encouraging adoption of existing standards. A complete case summary and overview is available at

Certified petroleum data analyst pilot exams carried out globally The PPDM Association has successfully rolled out the first wave of certified petroleum data analyst pilot exams. The exams took place April 28 to May 2 in Houston; Oklahoma City; Calgary; London; Paris; Jakarta, Indonesia; Doha, Qatar; and Perth. The exam was created with input from global industry experts and was completed by 92 people with three to five years of data-analysis experience. Participants came from a wide variety of industries and included data vendors, operators and regulators. The results will now be analyzed and a pass/fail score will be set before the final, vetted exam is released in fall 2014.

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New simulation software promises to be more efficient Petrosys Solutions, Inc. has signed an exclusive three-year agreement to distribute tNavigator in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. The reservoir simulation software, created by Russian company Rock Flow Dynamics, is designed to be accessible on laptops, servers and highperformance computing clusters. Scott Tidemann, vice-president of Middle East/Asia Pacific with Adelaide, Australia–based Petrosys, sees the versatility of the software adding great value to the company’s exploration and production software offering. “Reservoir simulation is a computationally intensive exercise, so traditionally it has required a very significant investment in hardware and has taken a long time to run…. tNavigator can run on lower-cost hardware, yet perform simulations more quickly and effectively. “Reservoir engineers can run more simulations at higher resolution and in less time, allowing more efficient resource exploitation. It’s also important to note that tNavigator delivers high-quality results and integrates easily with other software—all at a cost-effective price point,” he says.

P H O T O : N D R 2 014

The 24th annual repository work group is set to take place from September 29 to October 3 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Developed for regulatory agencies and those who work with national data repositories (NDRs), the NDR conferences began over 20 years ago and have been hosted in nine countries so far, including Brazil, the United Kingdom, Norway, Colombia and South Africa. Hosted by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic, the event promises a week full of keynote speeches, NDR discussions, workshops and cultural experiences. A full list of sponsors and sessions is available at

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Best in show A

ll around the world, oil and gas data managers struggle with a series of challenges: what is the best way to gather, store and manage the immense amounts of information pouring into their companies? “We work with companies having data problems to seek out solutions,” explains Fred Kunzinger, upstream practice lead with Noah Consulting, Inc. “I am often asked, ‘What is everybody else doing?’ They want to know about best practices.”

Implementing best practices ensures a company’s data is managed in the most efficient way possible By Gordon Cope

Best practices, also referred to as standardized practices and optimum accepted practices, are part of a broadbased, industry-wide effort to deal with the growing realization that it isn’t good enough to just have data—you have to make sure it’s in its most useful form. “It used to be that you were grateful to find the data,” says Kunzinger. “Now, when you’re making a $100-million decision on it, you need to know if you can trust it. There’s a lot of really bad data out there,

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and you need processes in place to ensure you know if it’s bad or good. That’s where many initiatives, including best practices, come into play.” But what are best practices? “In order to understand best practices, you have to start with data rules,” says Trudy Curtis, chief executive officer of the Professional Petroleum Data Management (PPDM) Association. “As data managers, we deal with a lot of data, and it can be hard to decide if the data is to be trusted or not, so we


Cover Feature

develop rules about how data should behave, and we test our data against those rules.” A data rule can be quite simple—there should be no depth greater than total depth, or the spud date should not be later than the completion date. “If we find that the data doesn’t adhere to the rules, then we have to determine how serious the problem is and what to do about it,” says Curtis. “Doing something about it results in business rules, which combines one or more data rules with workflows and processes.” A collection of business and data rules that fits into a group might be called a best practice. “These are sensible, logical collections of data and business rules that can be taught or tested or used in day-to-day workflows,” says Curtis. While it may look simple on paper, creating and implementing best practices can be an onerous task. “It is difficult to institutionalize best practices because there is no one universal answer,” says Kunzinger. “Best practices are based on a frame of

reference that often exists in only one company or one portion of a sector. What might be a best practice in the oilsands is not necessarily a best practice in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. What works on Windows might not work on Linux.”

THE BASICS Still, there are some universal best practice goals that apply industry wide. “I would include governance, data quality and master data management as three core functions that can help you achieve best practices,” says Kunzinger. Governance involves roles and responsibilities: who does what, who administers rules and standards. “You have to put governance in place if you expect anything to be sustainable,” says Kunzinger. Data quality includes business rules that verify data validity and data correctness. “To be valid, a date needs a day, month and year, and the date can’t be later than today,” says Kunzinger. “To be correct, you must be able to put it in a business context.”

Master data management involves creating one central database that can be universally retrieved. “Years ago, companies operated in silos, where geoscience had a database, engineering had a database, and it put blinders on everyone,” says Kunzinger. “It was difficult to work in the system because you didn’t know if Well A was the same well in each silo. This wasn’t as important if you were working on a few dozen offshore wells a year, but now with shale plays, you may have hundreds or thousands of wells a year, and there is no room for inefficiencies. You need to store and access all your data across the enterprise.” Most companies are working to put some form of best practices in place. Jess Kozman is a former consultant at Westheimer Energy Consultants Limited and now a full-time employee at Mubadala Petroleum. He is a geoscientist by training, but has spent much of his 30 years in the oil and gas sector in IT management and business development. His recent work involves helping an operator

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Cover Feature

“Best practices are based on a frame of reference that often exists in only one company or one portion of a sector. What might be a best practice in the oilsands is not necessarily a best practice in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.” — Fred Kunzinger, upstream practice lead, Noah Consulting, Inc.

with exploration licences in Asia to improve its data management. “There was an acknowledged lack of either best or even standardized practices that was leading to a measurable and documented decision latency in a competitive [exploration and production] business environment,” says Kozman. “They gave us a mandate to adopt and adapt best practices for their organization.” In consultation with the company, Kozman helped identify some concrete goals. “They wanted to move a specified percentage of priority depth indexed well data to validated status,” he notes. “Secondly, they wanted to reduce data latency by 90 per cent and analytic latency by 70 per cent for seismic reprocessing decisions in two asset teams before the seismic approval document reached the explore stage gate. Finally, they wanted to demonstrate user proficiency by data owners in retrieving priority business metadata from their GIS [geographic information system] portal before mid-year evaluations were completed. These were all definable and measurable results of deploying optimum accepted practices.” Kozman worked to establish and document data governance roles identified by job function and enforced through individual and team performance contracts. They devised corporate key performance indicators for data quality improvement, and instituted industry standards for unique

well identifier schemes, seismic metadata capture and horizon naming conventions. “Individual ‘quick-win’ projects were delivered, publicized and measured with individual SMART [specific, measurable, assignable, relevant and time-bound] objectives, but the process of identifying new areas for projects is ongoing,” says Kozman.

THE NEXT STEP Like any business process, there are caveats to best practices. “You have to be careful of scaling,” says Kunzinger. “If you stretch a best practice too far, you risk dilution of the solution, just like a transmission line can only go so far before you lose too much energy.” And no matter how rigorously one defines data rules, exceptions arise. “There is always a good reason for an exception,” says Curtis. “Our challenge is to teach both the general principles and the exceptions, which do make sense once you understand the underlying principles.” Still, there is much to gain. “Best practices have the potential to increase alignment of day-to-day activities with corporate strategy, reduce time spent on developing or reworking already-established processes and procedures, and increase visibility for value of data management,” says Kozman. How can data managers learn more about best practices? “Communicating with other data managers is an excellent

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way to see, learn what works, what to avoid, what to adopt,” says Kunzinger. “It doesn’t even have to be in the oil and gas sector. Many general data conferences have talks from multiple sectors; you might find something that works well with FedEx works well with your system.” How can data managers convince their companies to explore best practices? “Solve a data governance issue for a single data type or specific operational or business line need, then prove the value to the business,” says Curtis. “Keep data governance as simple and repeatable as possible. Simple is easier to adapt and easier to change as technologies or business needs change.” Data managers can participate in best practices through industry memberships and by attending conferences and workshops. “Become involved in the PPDM Data Analyst certification,” says Curtis. “Read The Management of Oil Industry Exploration & Production Data by Steve Hawtin. Join LinkedIn groups associated with data management, subsurface data management, and [exploration and production] data quality.” But, above all, keep in mind that best practices are an evolving concept. “What is a best practice today might just be good practice two years from now because something better has come along,” says Kunzinger. “The finish line is always moving.”

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From Houston to Paris, and back again T

wo Standards Leadership Council (SLC) forums were held in the first half of 2014: the first in Paris on February 18, and the second in Houston on March 19. For those who could not attend, synopses of the presentations are listed below. The first 16 synopses are listed in their order of appearance at the Houston forum, with those that appeared only at the Paris meeting last. For full presentations or more information, visit

1. THE DIGITAL OILFIELD HYPE CYCLE: A CURRENT-STATE ASSESSMENT OF WHERE THE INDUSTRY IS TODAY Presented by Jim Crompton, managing director, Information Pipeline LLC (Crompton presented in Houston only, as the keynote speaker)

There have been major improvements in oil and gas industry information handling; however, innovation is being led by consultants rather than in-house research and development, so the rate of innovation is relatively slow. Innovation uptake is also hampered by the complexity of hydrocarbon reservoirs. Each discipline sees one aspect of the reservoir, when in fact there is a common, multi-dimensional real thing underlying

these partial models. We are like the proverbial blind men and the elephant—each specialty grabs only one aspect of it. In the real world, there is only one reservoir, but in the data world, we have several reservoirs (partial models) that are not well integrated. To solve this, the industry needs a Rosetta stone for interdisciplinary work across those models.

2. FUTURE PLANS FOR THE SLC Presented by Trudy Curtis, chief executive officer of the Professional Petroleum Data Management (PPDM) Association and Jerry Hubbard, chief executive officer and president of Energistics; co-chairs of the SLC (Curtis and Hubbard presented together in Houston; Curtis presented in Paris)

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If you couldn’t attend the SLC forums in Houston or Paris, check out what you missed By Claude Baudoin

The presentation outlined what the SLC hopes to achieve through the forum, the different types of standards being pursued by the various members, and what can be done to coordinate standardization efforts for the benefit of the oil and gas community at large.

3. BP VISION FOR THE SLC Presented by Rusty Foreman, global subsurface data and governance manager, BP plc (in Houston), and Mark Brunton, maintenance breakthrough team, BP (in Paris)

BP is evolving toward the next generation of digital oilfield operations, involving realtime surveillance and decision analytics in well, reservoir, facility and export operations. Integrated standards are critical for solution and application interoperability. The SLC must move beyond being a forum for conversation and establish a clear road map for delivering integrated standards that meet the requirements of the oil and gas industry.

4. WHAT IS THE PETROLEUM USER GROUP (PUG)? Presented by Andrea Le Pard, chair, PUG (Le Pard presented in Houston only)


PUG is a global professional organization for geographic information system (GIS) users and geospatial professionals in the oil and gas industry. Originally established as an ESRI user group in 1990, PUG achieved professional industry organization status in 2014. PUG strives to work collaboratively to improve and enhance the use of GIS and geospatial workflows and technologies through seven technical work groups covering pipelines, geodetics, spatial analysis, data management, land management, surface 3-D and web maps.

5. OBJECT MANAGEMENT GROUP (OMG) UPDATE Presented by Claude Baudoin, consultant and member, OMG (in Houston), and Richard Soley, chair and chief executive officer, OMG (in Paris)

The mission of the OMG is to develop— with our worldwide membership—enterprise integration standards that provide real-world value. OMG is also dedicated to bringing together end users, government agencies, universities and research institutions in our communities of practice to share experiences in transitioning to new management and technology approaches like cloud computing. Successful OMG

accomplishments include unified modelling language, the most widely adopted standard modelling language.

6. PETROLEUM INDUSTRY DATA EXCHANGE (PIDX) INC. IS THE ENGINE BEHIND PETROLEUM E-BUSINESS Presented by Fadi Kanafani, president and chief executive officer of PIDX (in Houston), and David Wallis, PIDX (in Paris)

PIDX provides a global forum for delivering the process, information and technology standards that facilitate seamless, efficient electronic business within the oil and gas industry and its trading community. Formed in 1987, PIDX now has 14 business documents and processes spanning the full procure to pay and order to cash between trading partners, from wellhead to gas station pump. PIDX has seven standards and guidelines committees covering business messages, business processes, technology global business practices, catalogue and classification, downstream and regulatory. In 2012 alone, PIDX was used in over 750,000 business transactions, representing approximately $13 billion in invoices.

7. OIL AND GAS INTEROPERABILITY PILOT PROGRAM Presented by Alan Johnston, president, MIMOSA, and Nils Sandsmark, general manager, POSC Caesar Association (PCA) (Johnston and Sandsmark presented together in Houston; Johnston presented in Paris)

The presentation discussed MIMOSA and PCA’s interoperability project that is focused on the life-cycle management of physical assets. MIMOSA has a road map of implementations of pilot-use cases. This is related to ISO 18101.

8. RASTER LOG CALIBRATION— WITSML AND PPDM MAPPING PROGRESS Presented by Jana Schey, vice-president, operations, Energistics; Richard Cook, E&P technical lead, ETL Solutions Ltd.; and Ingrid Kristel, project manager, the PPDM Association (Schey and Kristel presented in Houston; Cook and Kristel presented in Paris)

The presentation discussed the progress of two Energistics and PPDM collaborations: the raster well log (depth) calibration, and the WITSML and PPDM mapping proof of concept project.

Foundations | Summer 2014 | 15



Oil and gas companies spend millions each year conducting offshore pipeline surveys. The OGP standards committee presentation discussed how to integrate the data models of offshore pipelines with the SSDM.

10. COLLABORATION FOR THE EMERGENCE OF A PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY FOR DATA MANAGERS Presented by Trudy Curtis, chief executive officer, the PPDM Association (Curtis presented in Paris and Houston)

The presentation outlined the collaboration between the PPDM Association and other data management bodies to build a professional society for data managers based upon standards, a body of knowledge, community and professional development.

11. MIMOSA UPDATE Presented by Alan Johnston, president and chief executive officer, MIMOSA (Johnston presented in Paris and Houston)

MIMOSA works closely with formal standards bodies to help develop international standards reflecting industry requirements. The presentation discussed downstream life-cycle management, focusing on operations and maintenance of a plant facility.

12. OBJECT LINKING AND EMBEDDING FOR PROCESS CONTROL (OPC) FOUNDATION UPDATE Presented by Thomas Burke, president and executive director, OPC Foundation (in Houston), and Michel Condemine, OPC France president, OPC Foundation (in Paris)

The OPC Foundation is the world’s leading community for interoperability solutions based on OPC specifications that deliver universal connectivity. Key markets for OPC technology include industrial automation, building automation, energy


don’t want to give it away to the mine owner. They charge for this data even though they need to acquire it to perform a service they also bill for. The group has several work groups dedicated to creating open standards.

Presented by Jay Hollingsworth, chief technology officer, Energistics (Hollingsworth presented in Paris and Houston)


management, manufacturing enterprise and machine to machine. The presentation outlined current and future initiatives.

Energistics is coordinating units of measure, which is a project designed to create a modern set of units of measure for computer consumption in the upstream oil and gas domain. New units sets have been produced, public comments have been received and those comments reviewed by the team. Publication of the new sets is scheduled for the second quarter of 2014.

Presented by Jay Hollingsworth and Jill Lewis, members, SEG (Hollingsworth presented in Houston; Lewis presented in Paris)



Presented by Nils Sandsmark, general manager, PCA (Sandsmark presented in Paris and Houston)

The PCA promotes the development of open specifications to be used as standards for enabling the interoperability of data, software and related matters. Focus areas of the PCA include domain-specific nomenclatures for health, safety and enviroment; drilling and completions; design and engineering; reservoir and production; operations and maintenance; logistics and transportation; and life-cycle asset planning.

The presentation outlined the participation of the SEG in the evolution of seismic acquisition and processing standards, and where technical standards work needs to focus in the future.

Presented by Wenche Havn, manager, knowledge management, TOTAL E&P NORGE AS (Havn presented in Paris only)


The goal of the EPIM Association is to utilize and make IT solutions available to promote the best possible flow of information between authorities and licensees on the Norwegian continental shelf. The presentation outlined how EPIM communicates data between operators, regulators and stakeholders using the offshore Martin Linge field development as an example.

Presented by Tim Skinner, chair, Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group (GMSG) (Skinner presented in Houston only)


GMSG was founded 12 years ago by a group of mine owners who were frustrated by the fact that successive operators and service companies would install their own, incompatible infrastructure for GPS data acquisition—and bill the owner of the mine each time. Today, there are 36 members, including operators and mining equipment manufacturers. Operators and suppliers acquire a large amount of data during the mining process, but they

16 | Journal of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association

Presented by Athina Trakas, director, European Services, Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) (Trakas presented in Paris only)

The OGC is an international industry consortium of 478 companies, government agencies and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface standards. The presentation outlines the process used to develop an oil spill response common operating picture using open standards.

Support The Journal of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association

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Passing the threshold A

mong their many duties, petrophysicists determine key characteristics of reservoirs, including rock composition, porosity, fluid type and permeability. They do this mainly by studying data acquired in wells, with the help of specialized computer software. In so doing, petrophysicists have become the de facto managers of this data in many oil companies, from planning and supervising its acquisition in the field to receiving, verifying, processing and

transforming it into information that management can use to make better decisions. “Unfortunately, much of the data held by companies or governments remains unmanaged because the common practice is to manage data on a per-need basis,” says Martin Storey, a long-time petrophysicist. “In other words, we are to gather, verify and validate the data only when it is needed. Implicitly, this assumes that such tasks are easy and readily done…but they are not trivial.”

18 | Journal of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association

Data management is one step closer to becoming an accredited profession By Gordon Cope

Such a practice has consequences. “The company expects its geoscientists to spend perhaps 10 per cent of their time loading the data, 60 per cent evaluating and interpreting it, and 30 per cent documenting the work to capture its value,” says Storey. “In actuality, we more typically spend 60 per cent of our time looking for, gathering, loading, making sense of and verifying data, then 30 per cent of our time evaluating and interpreting it, and if the remaining 10 per cent has not been taken



up by software problems, we may whip out a quick report and file the results.” Poor data management does not just waste time—it can result in missed business opportunities and consequent loss of revenues. “Geoscientists may be under such pressure from deadlines that we may have to cut a few corners in our technical work or leave some avenues unexplored,” says Storey. “This results in less reliable and less robust work of lower present, as well as long-term, value to the employer. It is a real and pervasive business risk, yet one that does not appear on the balance sheet and seems rarely recognized by management. You might call it a big blind spot.” Fortunately, simple measures can mitigate this risk. “Reviewing the data when it is received is essential to ensure its correctness and completeness before it is entered in the company systems,” says Storey. “Equally important is to do this consistently, so the data can be used readily independent of time, place or data manager’s name. Companies should adopt common standards and practices, and they should ensure that their data managers are trained to promote and implement these in a committed and consistent manner.” For the last several years, the Professional Petroleum Data Management (PPDM) Association has been promoting the professionalization of data management by building up the knowledge base associated with their work. Various projects include standardizing definitions for well components (What is a Well), standardizing business rules that govern oil and gas information, and modernizing and standardizing well identification processes. One of the vital missing components, however, is a data management and certification

system. “We know that establishing data management as a professional and accredited discipline will be challenging and expensive,” says Trudy Curtis, chief executive officer of the PPDM Association. “But it is absolutely essential if data is to be managed and stewarded as an industry asset by certified professionals, using industryaccepted professional practices. The PPDM Association is dedicated to this goal.” The PPDM Association involved the Petroleum Education Task Force (PETF) in developing a certification program for professional data managers. An important element of this program is working with industry to develop best practices and ensure that there are suitable programs to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to oversee oil and gas databases. “I joined the PPDM Association several years ago,” recalls Storey. “For many years, I had been having small-scale or unstructured discussions with colleagues about

the multi-faceted value of investing some time in data management. By joining the PPDM Association, I gained a network of like-minded professionals from whose experience and accomplishments I was able to benefit immediately. I was happy to participate in PETF, as it is the opportunity to make a true difference in this field.” One of the task force’s first steps was to define the duties of data management practitioners. PETF broke the discipline down into four major subgroups: • Records managers: work with unstructured documents • Geographic information systems data managers: work with spatial data • Business analysts: manage how their companies use the data • Data analysts: ensure that data is accurate, complete and stored in the appropriate system PETF’s ultimate goal is to establish certification for data management

Foundations | Summer 2014 | 19


“Companies should adopt common standards and practices, and they should ensure that their data managers are trained to promote and implement these in a committed and consistent manner.” — Martin Storey, petrophysicist

professionals (DMPs). “PETF is working hard on a common, internationally accepted certification,” says Curtis. “The idea is to ensure that DMPs have the necessary knowledge and skills to identify a problem and fix it. When you are a geoscientist gathering well data, you can only fi x the instance of a data problem that relates to your project while a DMP can steward the problem and permanently correct the data at the original sources.” A large part of current work is determining what data managers do and why. Storey was asked to contribute his 20 years of experience in geotechnical data management. “When I participate in discussions with the PPDM Association, I tend to take the fi rm stance of the data user,” says Storey. “Conscientious petroleum engineers cannot fail to observe the pervasiveness of low data quality, and how severely it affects the efficiency of

our work and the confidence in our deliverables. A quest for betterment naturally leads to asearch for standards, and PPDM is the main independent organization that addresses this goal in the oil and gas industry. Establishing a data management program that will lead to professional certification is not only a logical extension of their work, it is essential to the success of data management itself.” To reach fruition, the project will require several years’ worth of work and substantial industry investment. “Even major oil companies quickly realized how expensive and time consuming it would be to go it alone and decided to participate in the creation of an industry certification program instead,” says Curtis. “There is great demand from the industry for this program. We are moving forward with a collective and collaborative vision that will engage everyone.”

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20 | Journal of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association

Technical Feature

Digital dozen A new well ID system promises less confusion and more efficient operations By Trudy Curtis, chief executive officer, Professional Petroleum Data Management Association


for identifying sidetracks allowed considerable diversity in implementation, resulting in some fragmentation of usage between state agencies. Over the last 10 years, drilling and completion technologies have advanced tremendously, with multiple wellbores, laterals and production reservoirs associated with a single well surface location. The potential for downhole collisions has increased dramatically. A 12-digit number is required to uniquely identify each wellbore. Unfortunately, about half of the U.S. state regulatory agencies continue to use a 10-digit API Well Number and thus cannot identify all of the drilled wellbores. Operators and vendors routinely add their own extensions to 12 or 14 digits, creating identifiers that unofficially emulate the API Well Number. This creates confusion when merging data from different sources,

or almost half a century, the American Petroleum Institute’s API Well Number (based on API Bulletin D12A) has been a workhorse of the U.S. oil and gas industry. Operators use it to label, store and retrieve well information and to report information to the regulatory agency. Regulatory bodies use it to track drilling permits, collect royalties from production and optimize field conservation. The original API Well Number was based on a 10-digit system (see table below). The first two digits identify the state, the next three digits identify the county and the last five digits are unique numbers for each well in the county. The majority of regulatory agencies use a modified API Number series. In 1978, the API Well Number was expanded to 12 digits so that directional sidetracks could be identified. The rules

















resulting in errors that can cost money or create hazardous situations. Early in 2010, the API transferred stewardship of the API Well Number to the Professional Petroleum Data Management (PPDM) Association. The PPDM Association is a global, not-for-profit professional society that provides data management standards and best practices for the petroleum exploration and production industry. Petroleum companies, government agencies, software application providers, data vendors, service companies, standards bodies and individuals form the membership. The PPDM Association formed the Well Identification Project. Industry participants included Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, BP p.l.c., Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips Canada, Exxon Mobil Corporation, IHS Inc., Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Baker Hughes Incorporated, Devon Energy Corporation, TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company ASA, Llano Systems and Data Management Inc., and DrillingInfo, along with regulators. The goal was to create a new version that would honour existing standards but allow the industry to identify and catalogue new well components in a consistent, universal manner. The Well Identification Project polled industry

Foundations | Summer 2014 | 21

Technical Feature





















1956 Petroleum Information works with operators to create the Well History Control System (WHCS) database. The WHCS well numbering system includes several concepts later included in the first well numbering standard from the API.

1966 The API Subcommittee on Well Data Retrieval Systems releases Appendix A of API Bulletin D12 (Well Data Glossary), which includes several recommendations for standardizing well ID numbers.


experts to find out what capabilities the new well ID system needed and didn’t need. The PPDM Association then turned to upgrading the U.S. well identification system. The U.S. well identification standard

1968 API publishes API Bulletin D12A, which deals solely with well ID numbering.

1979 After several revisions to API Bulletin D12A, the 1979 version is released.

1990-96 Several efforts to revise the API numbering standard are attempted, including a detailed draft that was never implemented.

2010 Custody of the API Bulletin D12A is transferred from the API to the PPDM Association. An industry project is launched to modernize the standard.

2013 The PPDM Association issues an updated well numbering standard, which includes a requirement to identify all wellbores within each well.

was formally launched in September 2013. You can download the standard for free by visiting

The greatest change is that all wellbores must be identified. This includes pilot holes, dry holes and junked or abandoned wellbores. In essence, every drilled path must be assigned an identifier. The U.S. well identification standard now incorporates 12 digits (see table above). The first 10 digits are exactly the same as the old system. Digits 11 and 12, however, are reserved for new-cut hole and identify each wellbore, including deepenings, in a consistent, standardized manner. The U.S. well identification standard has an optional extension to include more information. Positions 13+ allow for conversions, plugbacks and drilling modifications within the stated wellbore. It is not meant to identify a wellbore or deepening; those functions are reserved for digits 11 and 12. The revised standard allows for improved financial, environmental, technical

22 | Journal of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association

and safety performance, while still meeting contractual, social and regulatory obligations. Senior management benefits from reduced risk in decision making. Geoscientists can spend less time searching for and reconciling data. Engineers can make better drilling and workover decisions. Regulators benefit from standardized reporting methodology that ensures all wellbores are identified and better satisfies environmental issues. Mergers and acquisitions activity encounters fewer errors. Data managers can improve the quality of databases and data exchange. The ultimate benefit is timely decision making based on ready access to all the information about every wellbore. The PPDM Association is now working with state and federal regulators to help implement the system. Any operator can independently adopt the system right now, but most companies are waiting for their regulators to embrace the system first, to avoid unnecessary revisions. The PPDM Association welcomes comments on the U.S. well identification standard, and seeks expert volunteers for other initiatives. To learn more or to contact us, visit

SLC Corner


United front The Standards Leadership Council is attacking data mismanagement by uniting the individual standards organizations By Trudy Curtis and Jerry Hubbard


here are global, multiindustry standards organizations, such as the International Organization for Standardization, and then there are global, industry-specific standards organizations, such as the American Petroleum Institute. There are also a myriad of smaller, industry-specific standards bodies that have arisen over the last several decades to meet the needs of the various domains, such as geospatial, business and energy sectors. In these organizations, standards are created by subject matter experts gathered together to solve specific business or IT interoperability problems. Over time, some of these groups became more formal through the creation of not-for-profit standards bodies. The oil and gas sector is evolving quickly. Various disciplines (from exploration, drilling and production to finance, procurement and regulation) have become

more integrated. Huge amounts of information are exchanged and enhanced. The need to ensure the quality, uniformity and security of data across disciplines is now more important than ever. And the need for standards bodies relevant to meeting the interoperability needs of the oil and gas sector to collaborate is critical. In December 2011, at an industry event hosted by Oracle Corporation in California, the leaders of Energistics, the Professiolal Petroleum Data Management (PPDM) Association and Petroleum Industry Data Exchange (PIDX) Inc. sat down to discuss this issue. The attendees determined that a good first step would be to bring the leaders of each of the standards organizations together for a conversation that would include sharing development plans for the upcoming year, identifying intersection points between the standards and discussing mutual challenges, such as financial sustainability,

member retention and communicating the business value of implementing standards. In February 2012, Baker Hughes Incorporated hosted a meeting in Houston attended by eight organizations. The number almost immediately increased to the current 11 organizations now known as the Standards Leadership Council (SLC). The intent of the SLC is to formally unite the leaders of organizations that provide open and freely available standards to the upstream oil and natural gas industries. The SLC organized itself by drafting a memorandum of cooperation and a set of governance rules. The group elected Jerry Hubbard, president and chief executive officer of Energistics, and Trudy Curtis, chief executive officer of the PPDM Association, as the co-chairs of the SLC and scheduled a series of meetings and public forums. The SLC participants include Energistics, the International Association of Oil and Gas

Foundations | Summer 2014 | 23

SLC Corner

Producers (OGP), MIMOSA, the Object Management Group (OMG), Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), OPC Foundation, PIDX International, Pipeline Open Data Standards (PODS), POSC Caesar Association (PCA), the PPDM Association and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). These organizations are all global in nature, are all operated as not-for-profit societies and are all based on a business model requiring voluntary industry participation. Each addresses specific industry business problems and produces specific solutions using standards. They include petro-technical exploration and production data exchange, data models, procurement data exchange, pipeline data, geomatics, seismic standards and more. Many areas of intersection between the standards have been identified, and joint projects have been launched to build connectors between standards or to collaborate on developing standards, like an industry units of measure table.


DEFINING THE ISSUES Globally, there are thousands of exploration and production companies and at least as many software or data vendors, regulatory agencies and service companies. Within each company, one will find specialists in business functions that range from the back office (finance, procurement, contracts) to the scientific analysis tools used in exploration and production, the operations management tools used by well or facility management personnel and the business analysis tools used for decision making. Unfortunately, the diversity that makes us a strong industry can also be our

down-fall. Over the last few decades, many proprietary methods have been created to solve problems that plague everyone. In an industry that depends on collecting and manipulating complex data, it makes sense that various groups of specialists have worked collectively to develop common methods and formats that are tuned to the needs of each group. Over the last 30 years, collaborative projects have resulted in the creation of a broad range of standards, and organizations emerged to support and develop each set of specifications. Some are focused on problems in exploration, production optimization or facility operations. Others specialize in master data, data exchange or spatial data. Today, explorers and producers are faced with a bewildering array of technical and business standards. Discovering which standard is applicable to one’s work is difficult, confusing and often frustrating. Broadly, these standards fall into several categories: Technical specifications/standards: Many of the standards that have been developed are intended to support the movement or storage of data and to provide standardized service interface access to this data. Technical encoding standards may be provided as XML schema, data models or ontologies. One can think of these standards as providing sets of rules about data and how data should be associated with other data. Semantics and vocabulary: Sharing information is important in our industry. We share information internally with groups inside our own companies, and we share information with partners and regulators in accordance with our contracts or regulatory requirements. Our underlying assumption might be that this should not be difficult, yet it is. Take semantics: over the years, the way we use words has changed, and this has created many local dialects. The end result is that words like “well,” “oil” and “spud date” mean different things to different people. Semantic standards

24 | Journal of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association

are developed to help industry converge on a common vocabulary. Technical interoperability: This family of standards helps the flow of information to be hardware, software or software-agnostic. Communications at the well site or in a facility depend on technical interoperability to ensure that critical data can move from system to system without requiring transformation or manipulation. Workflow, process interoperability: Agreement about effective processes and methodologies helps people and machines to conduct their day-to-day jobs more safely and effectively, helps people train effectively and provides appropriate controls on critical job functions. Operations and maintenance at plants depend on such standards.

EARLY OBJECTIVES In 2011, the leaders of several standards organizations met to discuss the opportunities and benefits that an open and collaborative dialogue would bring to industry. Questions posed by industry gave the group the focus to ask critical questions, like: • Can standards be integrated to support cradle-to-grave life-cycle workflow optimization? • Can standards be harmonized to share key architectural foundations, vocabularies and business rules? • Can overlaps between standards be identified with the ultimate goal of a set of unified standards? • Can the SLC members obtain some benefits of scale for operational efficiency?

CHALLENGES WE FOUND The industry message to the SLC has been very consistent: develop specifications, connectors and collaborations that harmonize the different standards for the benefit of the entire industry. But collaborative projects, however well intentioned, are not easy, and the SLC has been challenged in many ways. The original intent of the SLC—getting standards leaders to communicate regularly and effectively—has been

SLC Corner

very successful. The secondary intent— to identify intersection points between standards—has also been very successful. But the actual collaboration projects are difficult for many technical reasons. It starts with the different cultures of the standards organizations and the work behind the scenes that the SLC undertakes to make sure the stakeholders of each organization understand, and publicly support, the benefits of a joint project. Each standard is built fit-for-purpose, and harmonization will require some adjustments to existing standards; this becomes a concern for industry players who have built software using earlier versions. Resources are a key component to successful collaborations. Each of the SLC organizations depends on the commitment of dedicated volunteers to build business processes around standardized solutions, in addition to their full-time jobs. Adding additional collaborative projects between standards stretches the available subject matter expert resources significantly. And project-specific funding is often unavailable, forcing the standards organizations to repurpose existing budgets. However, even with the resource challenges, of the 10 collaborative projects that have been identified, five have been initiated and one, the units of measure project, has been completed.

SUCCESSES WE HAVE HAD The SLC’s first priority was to document what each organization’s key standards are and find a useful way to describe points of intersection or opportunities for collaboration. It became clear that, over decades, each organization has developed portfolios and projects that are comprehensive and robust. This creates both opportunities and challenges. SLC members were invited to join some existing projects, such as the Energistics’ units of measure library. New opportunities to create bridges between standards were identified and pilot projects launched, such as the WITSML to PPDM mapping. Requests solicited by industry to one SLC organization were immediately promoted

for SLC collaboration (creation of a Raster log calibration format). Projects like these will add immediate value to industry and provide SLC participants with hands-on opportunities to better understand each other. SLC leaders meet face to face at least twice a year in a workshop environment to identify opportunities to collaborate. Far from being isolated, the SLC has organized several open industry meetings around the globe and continues to plan for more sessions in 2014. Senior industry executives are invited to address the SLC so that we can understand their vision for standards in the oil and gas industry. Leaders from other standards bodies are invited to join the SLC, and organizations that have connections to the work of standards are invited to participate as observers.

COMMUNICATING TO THE INDUSTRY The first public forum was held in June 2012 in Houston and attracted 125 industry members to hear about the plans for each of the 11 organizations. The second public forum took place in London in February 2013 and a third was held in Beijing in July 2013. All were well attended and provided excellent feedback to the SLC on the expectations of the industry. Consultations are ongoing. In February 2014, Total S.A. hosted a well-attended public forum in Paris. Another public forum was held in Houston in March. In the last 18 months, the SLC has worked to understand and share the vision for the role that standards can play in our complex industry. Industry has been a powerful voice for what is needed. The true mark of success is, as always, industry acceptance of what has been done and industry demand for more to be done. We have demonstrated that the role of standards can be made clear, practical and achievable. Developing and sustaining standards is and will always be driven by the voice of industry. Harmonizing and integrating standards is complex; it will require subject matter experts with detailed knowledge and working experience with each standard.

WHAT COMES NEXT? The SLC has identified three main goals for 2014: • to meet more often (and for longer periods of time); • to improve our public communication to stakeholders on our progress; and • to collaborate on developing interoperability between the standards. This means we will harmonize where appropriate, reconcile where necessary, integrate where valuable and map across life cycles including the well, facility, subsurface and production. We will start the planning process for 2015 to maintain and build additional integrated standards while ensuring standards are stewarded and recognized as long-term industry assets. The SLC is committed to serving the best interests of the upstream oil and natural gas industries by actively communicating and closely collaborating between the SLC membership, the industry and our individual stakeholders. The SLC is guided by a slight paraphrasing of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address: “With malice toward none, with charity for all…let us strive on to fi nish the work we are in…to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all standards.”

COMMENT BOX The current state of the oil and gas industry needs an integrated, comprehensive view of its entire supply chain and full life cycle. The SLC and its individual members can provide leadership not just by working more collaboratively and fi xing the edges between standards, but by creating a vision of integrated operations and how standards are a vital part of that vision. There is a terrific message to share. Not everyone will follow, not everyone will contribute, not everyone will get it the first time. I recommend that we all dream bigger, and break the work down into measurable steps.

Foundations | Summer 2014 | 25

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member One membership fee; over $100 million worth of knowledge. Now that’s ROI.

Members of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association get immediate access to a wealth of tools and knowledge in the field of oil and gas data management standards, best practices, and education, including: Standards • PPDM 3.8: The leading open standards data model in the industry • What is a Well? • Well Status and Classification

Business rules: best practices for creating and managing master data stores containing the most trusted data for an organization

Knowledge sharing • Training and certification • Events: workshops, conferences, user group meetings • Forums, wiki pages, blogs

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Community Involvement


Attendees of the Data For Good Calgary 2014 DataThon, held on May 9.

Data do-gooders Data For Good Calgary hosts first official DataThon


By Leisa Northcott


developer, a data analyst and a charity representative walk into a room. No, it’s not the set-up for a cheesy punchline—it’s the basic premise upon which data can be leveraged to help the not-for-profit (NFP), nongovernmental organization (NGO) and social innovation sectors achieve their missions. What we’re talking about is known as a DataThon, Hack-a-Thon or DataDive.

It’s a 24–48-hour event that matches up selected social organizations with a team of volunteer data professionals to tackle data-related challenges. Calgary hosted its first DataThon in May, thanks to the efforts of Data For Good Calgary, an initiative launched in late 2013 by engineer and IT consultant Geoff Zakaib. Like any data junkie worth his salt, Zakaib immediately saw a connection when he

stumbled upon a link to while surfing the web. DataKind was co-founded by two forward-thinking New Yorkers in 2011 and was already making impressive strides in using data to drive positive social action. An active volunteer, Zakaib was intrigued by the possibilities of harnessing the skills, energy and talent of Calgary’s robust data community to help local social organizations make good on their mission

Foundations | Summer 2014 | 27

Community Involvement

to make the world a better place. “Calgary is the perfect location for that kind of convergence since we have a growing sector full of bright, energetic data professionals that also have the heart to do good and are eager to put their skills to use,” he says. When Zakaib discovered a group in Toronto called Data For Good, which is affiliated with DataKind, he decided that bringing the concept to Calgary was not just possible—it was imperative. Mirroring the approach of the Toronto chapter, Zakaib created a group on to see what kind of interest he could generate. “Having only started in November, we’re already up to 135 members, which is a good indicator of the engagement level in our city,” he says.

DOING GOOD NFPs and NGOs are doing very important work for the social, environmental and

economic good of our city—and amassing mountains of information in the process— but they often lack the knowledge, resources and/or skills to put this data to its best use. That’s where the data science community comes in to bridge the gap and help them capitalize on the sea of information at their fingertips. NFPs and NGOs benefit in the same ways businesses do by using data to become more innovative, efficient and valuable. DataKind projects around the world have helped with everything from tree trimming to hunger, poverty, discrimination, vaccine access and mobile health care. DataThons can help organizations in a number of ways, including identifying the needs and characteristics of the people or projects they are focused on, streamlining processes and programs, and enhancing fundraising efforts. “For some organizations,

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it can be as simple as helping them define their impact,” says Zakaib. “It’s a question they often get from potential funders that is very difficult to answer if you don’t have a clear understanding of your data.” Armed with the information needed to make better strategic decisions overall, they are able to make better use of donations and funding. Of course, this is also great news for those of us who contribute our hard-earned dollars and expect them to be well-spent on the causes we care about. For its inaugural DataThon in May, Data For Good Calgary worked with data from the Sustainable Alberta Association’s Commuter Challenge. The week-long event is held annually during Canadian Environment Week and is a friendly competition between Canadian cities and workplaces that challenges participants to leave their cars at home in favour of walking,

Community Involvement

“ Calgary is the perfect location for [Data For Good], since we have a growing sector full of bright, energetic data professionals that also have the heart to do good and are eager to put their skills to use.”

cycling, carpooling, telecommuting or public transit. Data on things like participants, modes of transport, routes travelled, mileage and distances travelled has been logged for the past three years. Prior to the DataThon, Data For Good ambassadors worked closely with the Sustainable Alberta Association to understand the issues and opportunities and prepare for the big day. Diving into these data sets provides a myriad of insights about commuters and sustainable transportation that can be shared with the media to increase exposure and promote sustainable transportation options. The findings could also help shape policy and planning at the municipal level. “It could, for example, inform the development of things like bike path systems or bus routes,” says Zakaib. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in one weekend, but Zakaib points out that

while there’s never an obligation, the collaboration doesn’t have to stop at the end of a DataThon. “The organizations will have something valuable to take away at the end of the weekend, but there’s always more to be done and more data coming in,” he says. “Our vision is that once you educate about the power of data and link people together, they can continue working together over a longer term and build on the initial insights.”

MORE THAN JUST DATA Beyond being extremely helpful to those agencies that need a hand up, DataThons are also meant to be inspiring, fun and social. Participants are supplied with food, drinks and snacks for the duration of the event and have a chance to mix and mingle while working toward a common goal. It takes all kinds to make these events a success—not just people with skill sets across the entire data

—G eoff Zakaib, IT consultant and founder of Data For Good Calgary

life cycle, but also programmers, developers and designers. Even if you’re not part of the data or IT world, the events also need people to help with administration, communications, set-up, food service and other event logistics. They also benefit from support in securing good venues and keeping volunteers well taken care of—and adequately caffeinated. With only half a year’s experience under its belt, Data For Good Calgary is looking forward to holding at least one more DataThon in 2014 and hopefully several next year. While he’s focused on helping the Calgary chapter flourish, nothing would make Zakaib happier than seeing the initiative take off in other locales. “There are organizations all over the place doing fantastic work and making a huge difference,” he says. “If you can lend your talent to help them be more efficient and effective in your corner of the world, why wouldn’t you?”

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2014 Oklahoma City Data Management Workshop and Field Trip: Making Today’s Vision Tomorrow’s Reality

JUNE 3, 2014

2014 Denver Data Management Workshop

JUNE 5, 2014

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

Denver, Colorado, USA

JULY 31, 2014

2014 Brisbane Data Management Workshop

Brisbane, Australia

OCTOBER 2014 S M T W 5 12 19 26


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2014 Perth Data Management Symposium

Perth, Australia

OCTOBER 21–23, 2014

2014 Calgary Data Management Symposium, Trade Show and AGM

Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada


For many years, the PPDM Association has offered a multitude of public and private classroom-based learning opportunities. The PPDM Association’s courses are a flexible, cost-effective means to access current industry-relevant information. For more information, visit


Public classes are scheduled two to three times per year, typically in the following cities: • Calgary, Alberta, Canada • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA • Houston, Texas, USA • Perth, Australia • Denver, Colorado, USA


We offer private courses to PPDM Association members. These are customized to meet the needs of each particular company and can be offered around the world. For more information on private training, please contact


In response to overwhelming industry demand, the PPDM Association has initiated development of online training courses. Available courses: • U.S. Land Survey Systems • U.S. Well Spotting • Business Life Cycle of the Well

• What is a Well • PPDM Data Model Design Principles: PPDM 3.8 (coming soon)

The convenience of online learning allows users to complete a course anywhere they have Internet. Register today at

VISIT PPDM.ORG FOR MORE INFORMATION 30 | Journal of the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association

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