Data and information management challenges are well documented and known across most industries. Where are files stored? How is information accessed? Is data up to date and reliable? Even adequate systems, processes and habits tend to devolve over time as roles and businesses change. The age of digital doesn’t seem to make things easier, but rather harder as we grapple with trying to knit the old with the new.
To discuss these big data challenges facing the energy sector today and what can be done about them, we spoke to Jeremy O’Brien Geothermal Energy Business Manager at Seequent, and Chris Hanton Technical Sales Executive at Perigon.
Reflecting on the challenges of the Industry
Jeremy O’Brien, Seequent
How would you describe typical data practices in today’s energy organisations?
“A lot of people worldwide still simply just use a data folder management system within their organization. Because of the nature of the [geothermal] industry, there hasn’t been much commercial demand for purpose-built tools. However, organisations are maturing and realising they could be using better systems to manage data. Geothermal data is so expensive to get – we need to keep it standardised, safe and secure.”
People talk about being able to access data better, what do they mean by that?
“Data accessibility is a key challenge for those working in the geothermal industry, and this has a direct correlation to decision efficiency. People don’t want to spend hours trying to pull stuff out of a file system, or search for numbers to try and visualise. They want to be able to access data through a window or a view that is integrated well with their workflows. Once data is accessed, people need to be sure that they can rely on it. I might also want to know what the original sample data was like 20 years ago and see all the data in between. If I can recall that information in one place rather than having to go to eight different places. That’s accessibility.”
Chris Hanton, Perigon
Why is legacy data such a challenge in this industry?
“Legacy data is definitely one of the big ones. That is largely related to the way that the data was created, why that data was created and why it was in the format it was. Back in the day you would simply be sending a report to someone. All of that would be in paper. It would make sense to a human eye. Someone could read it. They could understand exactly where that number came from, whether they could trust that data, and then they could use it. But trying to get a machine to read those old reports is incredibly difficult because they’re just not laid out in a machine-readable way. In the energy market, there is a backlog of undigitized legacy data. The oil and gas market has been fairly self-reliant in this area, it’s kind of fallen onto the geoscientists to self-serve themselves.”
How can you be sure you have trustworthy data?
Legacy data from the wellbore is incredibly diverse, and this is one of the reasons the industry has struggled to deal with it since its inception to be honest. In general, there’s a lack of inter-company standards and consistency, so you need a tool that’s very flexible to accommodate this variance. That flexibility allows you to cater for a whole suite of wellbore datatypes, be that geochem, pressure, core, seismic, logs etc…users need the ability to come in and very quickly find the data that they need. The other challenge is all the data siloes. So, you’ll get data in a repository, and then that’s not made immediately available to the rest of the organisation. You can end up with duplicated, conflicting data. We hear from our customers all the time ‘Yeah, I can find my data, but can I trust it? Is this what I really want to be using?’ That’s really where the value of iPoint comes into the geothermal industry I think.”
Solving the data challenges
Where is the energy sector in terms of digital transformation to help solve these data challenges?
“Digital transformation is a popular topic across many industries right now, and one thing is very clear, it is not simply about going from paper to online, or 2D to 3D, it’s about using the right technology to augment workflows and make data more accessible.
We are not always using the full power of the tools which are available. So, choosing the right tool is one part, but using it to its full potential is another…people out there are already working digitally, but they haven’t actually taken that next step to really embrace it and embed it as part of their workflows.
This is one of the key reasons we partnered with Perigon – to help our customers use modern technology to solve their data challenges. Their modus operandi is to find out what users need to be able to do their job, and then work backwards to determine what data management structure will best support this… and their technology [iPoint] is designed to be able to work in with existing workflows.
You’ve got companies who have invested very large sums into cloud systems, cloud infrastructure, cluster processing, big data. But you’ll find most organisations will be somewhere between there. Different assets will be at different levels along the digitisation path.”
How can Perigon’s iPoint solve some of the data challenges you describe?
“iPoint is a flexible wellbore data management tool with strong integration capability, data visualisation and analytical power. We have been helping the oil and gas industry with their data challenges for about 15 years. More recently, we have begun to add features for the Geothermal sector which has very similar challenges and requirements.
In terms of solving the legacy challenge, we’re constantly looking at emerging technologies, ways of reading legacy files, being able to absorb that data in a smooth, nice format as well… It all revolves around the iPoint database, which is kept on a single system. Traditionally that’s been put in a network location somewhere within an organisation, but over the past few months, we’ve actually rolled several clients out onto a cloud instance. In fact, we’re hosting one of our clients in our own cloud environment. They’re not even dealing with their own data. We’re hosting it for them and they just dial into it using our web application whenever they need it.
iPoint is one of the first purpose-built data management systems specifically for the geothermal market. It’s an open system based around either an SQL or Oracle database allowing simple connectivity with other geothermal solutions through our suite of integration tools. It’s also active and proven in another industry which is very similar, being the oil and gas industry.”
And finally….why are Leapfrog and iPOINT such a good fit?
“Seequent and Perigon have a lot in common. Our companies both specialise in supporting specific industries to get the most out of their data and treat it like the valuable asset that it is. We take a very similar approach to how we approach development: by listening carefully to our customers. When you weigh up the cost of investing versus continuing to do things the hard way, there’s no choice to be made really… if you don’t invest in moving forward, 10 years from now you could be even further behind.”
Learn more about iPoint for Geothermal here.
Perigon is a global leader in intelligent, connected and efficient wellbore data management systems, providing over 15 years of reliable service to their global portfolio of clients.
Their solutions are built around the pioneering iPoint software which combines class leading data management abilities with unique visualization capabilities, providing unparalleled levels of data understanding and confidence to its users.
Perigon’s technical expertise combined with an innate understanding of modern data management challenges allows them to serve global industry needs from their offices in Aberdeen, Scotland and Houston, Texas.