Rock history

Sept. 1, 2003
The history of the Earth is locked in its sediments and in the distribution of rock properties that identify those sediments.

Victor Schmidt • Houston

The history of the Earth is locked in its sediments and in the distribution of rock properties that identify those sediments. It is a complex puzzle of interwoven forces: physical, chemical, magnetic, gravitational, structural, and biological. Identifying, separating, and synthesizing these diverse relationships into a regional history are essential to fully comprehend the development of any mineral resource.

Wave and current forces control the deposition and distribution of sand, essential for the building trades. Magmatic structures emplace plutons and related volcanics, which control the flow of mineral-rich fluids that deposit precious metals and semi-precious materials necessary for high technology industries. Tectonic forces, which shape catchment basins and cook the sediments to create petroleum also control oil and gas emplacement.

Commodity minerals are the foundation of industry, and their flow through the world economy is essential to the improvement of human well being across the globe. Without geo-professionals to discern the Earth's history and recognize where the interlocking forces have deposited the materials we need, the world economy would not be possible.


Outsourcing continues to be one of the key drivers of the oil industry since restructuring began in the late 1980s. Management has traded control of skill sets for reduced overhead expenses.

Oil companies continue to jettison skill sets to minimize overhead, anticipating that they can bring an outside party in to supply a needed skill at any time. The assumptions behind the practice include:

  • Skilled people are available
  • Skills are in sufficient demand to support an independent business
  • There are enough skilled people to meet fluctuating demand
  • Such businesses can survive through low demand periods.

This model is showing signs of failure regarding prospect generation. This points out a lack of care in the buffering inventory of internally generated prospects.

Only prospects under management's control can be transformed directly into drillable deals. If a company is relying on outsourced prospects to meet its internal investment needs, then corporate control of the company's future has passed to the wider market.

New center

Schlumberger Information Solutions and Intel Corp. opened an Intel Energy Competency Center, the first in the US, located at SIS headquarters in Houston. The new facility provides an environment for evaluating the performance and cost benefits of reservoir simulation scenarios. Similar "trialing" centers are operating in the Middle East and Europe.

Using their own data, customers can run and visualize simulations on Intel Xeon and Intel Itanium 2 processor-based workstations and servers in cluster configurations from Hewlett Packard. The platforms run both Windows and Linux.

"Validating (computer) solutions that have been optimized for Intel-based architectures in this 'try-before-you-buy' center brings tremendous value to our customers by allowing them to test-drive a (software/hardware) solution and determine the system configuration that best meets their specific needs," said SIS President Ihab Toma.


Programs launched by the Joint Oceano-graphic Institution for Deep Earth Sampling's (Joides) have explored the world's oceans for 35 years and are preparing to take on new challenges. JOI is a consortium of eighteen US academic institutions that coordinates the capabilities of the individual oceanographic institutions on research planning and management of the ocean sciences.

The new Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) will officially begin on Oct. 1, replacing the earlier Ocean Drilling Program. IODP is an ambitious drilling program that will use multiple platforms to sample, investigate, and monitor the oceans. It is a quantum leap from ODP, which underwrote the work of the drillship Joides Resolution.

Beginning in the summer of 2004, the British Geological Survey, European Science Operator for IODP, will begin drilling and sampling under the mission-specific platform (MSP) program. The first MSP will be in the central Arctic Ocean. For deeper investigations, the Japanese are building a new drillship, Chikyu (Earth), which will be capable of drilling with a riser. Its mission begins in 2006 and will be administered by the Center for Deep Earth Exploration. For details on the Initial Science Plan check and for updates on IODP pro-gress, check


Digital overlay

Panoram Technologies unveiled the DIT-1, a Digital Imaging Table, which employs multi-projector imaging. The 65-in., 4.23-million pixel diagonal "light table" has near print quality resolution.

The DIT-1 can overlay many different data types for integrated studies.
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It was developed for high-resolution stills, graphic animations, and video in a joint venture with Olympus Optical of Japan. The table can merge mapping data with surveillance images from satellites and unmanned air vehicles. This technology is useful for many scientific imaging applications in oil and gas.

Wellsite reporting

Landmark Graphics released OpenWells, a software technology for wellsite operations reporting and analysis. The software is a fully integrated operations reporting and engineering data management tool for drilling and well services. "OpenWells is the industry's first user-configurable operations data management tool that integrates directly with well engineering and earth model visualization applications," said Andy Lane, President and CEO of Landmark.

Portable viz

Fakespace created a portable, cost efficient, large-scale visualization system called ROVR. The system ships in three small containers and does not require tools for setup. The 6-ft by 8-ft rear projection system uses standard 2,000 lumen active stereo projectors and comes with a light-tight fabric enclosure.

The ROVR can use a number of different interaction devices.
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