New technology simplifies log data handling

To make the switch from storing log data on film or paper, it was necessary to develop software that could support a variety of data formats from external clients as well as third parties.

To make the switch from storing log data on film or paper, it was necessary to develop software that could support a variety of data formats from external clients as well as third parties. Schlumberger made the leap with a Picture Description Standard (PDS) format.

In the mid-1980s, Schlumberger developed a version of PDS as an image format for well logging data. The initial goal was to produce a format that could enable the compact transmission of logging data from the trucks in the field to the offices of Schlumberger. Once there, this data could be both interpreted and archived. By offering a compact format, the data could be stored on computer disks or magnetic tape, saving space compared to paper rolls or film, but more importantly making the data accessible by computer.

PDS and DLIS (digital log information standard) formats make data easily accessed and viewed for future research. By compressing the raw data, these files could be transmitted from the logging truck to the office in real-time. Access to real-time data meant those experts not in the field could have input into the interpretation of the data. Now, Schlumberger says it can make use of experts in a central location on critical decision being made at field sites all over the world.

Internal to external

The natural progression of PDS and DLIS formats would be to make them accessible to clients. David Schlosser, Acquisition Products Section Manager for Schlumberger, said this was a timesaving advancement. In the past, when a client needed to access his logging data, he would go through Schlumberger. If he needed it in a different format, he would have to contact Schlumberger to reformat it. This was time consuming for the client and added little real value to the data.

With the PDSView and Log Data Toolbox applications, data can be collected and stored in any format. Once the data is stored, the user can access, manipulate, and even reinterpret it using local computers. In cases where there are data anomalies, the software is able to run the mathematical calculations necessary to correct these.

External challenges

After Schlumberger perfected the software tools to manipulate PDS and DLIS formats for internal use, it began working on an external version. The requirements were more stringent since the company could not predict which format the client, or third party, would be using or the user's level of expertise. This meant the application had to be capable of accepting data in many formats, and be user friendly enough that anyone could run it.

These challenges made for an expensive application, but Schlosser said one of the keys to industry acceptance was giving the programs away free of charge. He said that over 2,000 CD copies of PDSView and LogData Tool Box have been distributed, and more have been downloaded from the company's web site. In addition, Schlumberger has more that 1,300 internal users.

While PDSView and Log Data Toolbox are already widely utilized, Schlosser said a new version of Log Data ToolBox is already complete. "As soon as you deliver software, people want more," Schlosser said. The new version will have the added feature of editing the log data. Schlosser said the company has to balance the cost of developing these programs with the benefits for clients and the savings for the firm. In addition to the standard versions of the program, Schlosser said the company has received requests for a range of customized solutions.

Reliability and user friendly formatting are important when developing software for external users, so the firm gave its clients access to the same InTouch IT help desk services as internal users. In addition, external users are conducting beta tests of new versions in the field. Schlosser said this commercial use of the new version of the software provides Schlumberger with useful feedback on its reliability and practicality. Traditionally, field-testing was done only with internal clients, but with an open format such as this, outsider input is critical, he said.

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