News | April 19, 1999

New Information Management Study in Upstream Oil Industry

A new study investigating information management in the upstream oil and gas sector has been released by French IT consultancy The Data Room, which was engaged by Total to perform the study. Eleven units of international majors in Europe, Canada, and the USA operating in different environments but sharing many problems in IM, were involved in the study.

Patrick Fr├ęchu, Director of Research and Data Management with Total said, "We commissioned the 'Upstream Information Management Benchmark Study' from the Data Room because of their experience in the exploration and production business as well as their expertise in data management. The results have been integrated into our corporate information management strategy, providing a sound basis for our decisions in the fields of data management tool selection, investment arbitration, and corporate policy."

Companies deployed IT-intensive solution successfully in areas of established E&P activity, but in frontier areas and new ventures, more reliance has been on traditional library functions. Of particular note was the position of the participants in the business process cycle. Those having shed traditional library management functions during reorganization reported lost business opportunities as a result. Others, using asset-focused business units, also reported problems managing data beyond the life-span of an asset. Some companies reported running into a digital trap whereby traditional library functions were disbanded before adequate digital management of data was assured.

Neil McNaughton, Director of The Data Room commented, "What interested me most in this study was the fact that some of the simplest ideas had the most impact, whether this was a weekend spent indexing data from dusty cardboard boxes prior to a bidding round or capturing a minimalist subset of information from an asset prior to closure. In a similar vein, one of the partners had enhanced productivity across the board, by initiating a program of home-based training in the use of Office Automation products. In the area of New Ventures, none of the companies deployed 'big-iron' IT solutions to the IM problem. Successful companies were those that have either maintained traditional library functions, or those in a 'post BPR' phase of development, who were developing relatively lightweight solutions to recording the corporation's previous experience."

The success of decentralized IT tools such as Intranets and Lotus Notes was also a significant development, as was the extensive deployment of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).