Texaco initiates the new paradigm - 3D visualization. [17,781 bytes] ProMAX 7.0 includes DBTools for enhanced attribute analysis. [47,589 bytes] Silicon Graphics' Onyx2 GroupStation bundle can serve up to eight graphical workstations. [39,938 bytes]

Victor Schmidt

Paradigm shift for team-oriented exploration

At one time, geologists, geophysicists and engineers seldom involved themselves in the other's business. Today, teams are the rule. Just as the world of paper maps gave way to computer screens using 3D visualization, beginning this month that paradigm is shifting into the world of "Star Trek's holodeck." Initiating this shift, Texaco has built a 3D Visualization Center in Houston, patterned after the Silicon Graphics Reality Center visualization conference rooms. The new facility will allow geoscientists to interact with subsurface data in realistic 3D environments to analyze reservoir production simulations.

Seeing the "earth model" in its full intricacy, "flying" into and out of the model will further blur the working scale differences that have traditionally separated the professions.

In the new facility multidisciplinary teams will work in collaboration to interpret complex problems, optimize business operations, and enhance decision making, thereby reducing time and cost on projects. Texaco expects to triple its 3D seismic analysis capability through the use of this facility, improve oil and gas extraction, and reduce the cost of oil production. The facility incorporates a hemispherical screen, 25 ft wide by 9 ft high, with a 160-degree field of view. Other elements include three projectors, a digital display interface for edge blending and color balancing as well as a surround-sound system for audio data simulation. A "driver's seat" will be used to navigate participants through interactive environments.

Silicon Graphics pioneered the Reality Center in 1994 as a business and research tool. Patrick Ling, a Reality Center manager, said "It has gained steady momentum and is being deployed across a wide range of industries - because it makes a difference in their bottom lines." The Texaco facility is powered by an Onyx2 InfiniteReality visualization supercomputer in conjunction with Texaco proprietary technology. Michael J. Zeitlin, Portfolio Manager for Visualization Technology, saild, "It is another step into the 21st century where instant collaboration across time zones using 3D visualization will become common place within Texaco and our partners."

A form of "group mind" centered on 3D visualization is the developing paradigm. It will be fascinating to watch the different group personalities develop between competing companies and teams. Most companies preach that "people are our most important asset" but have not walked that path with the necessary faith. The soft skills of human relations and team dynamics will force an attitude change that can only better the performance of all.

Veritas Viking coming soon

Veritas DGC announced the contract signing for another new vessel, the second in its growing fleet of 3D vessels. The first new-build, dubbed Veritas Viking, will be delivered by June of 1998. The second vessel, tentatively named Veritas Viking 2, will be built in 1998 for delivery in 1999. Eidesvik Survey A/S will own and operate the vessels. Both vessels are based on the VS492 hull, 305 ft in length and 72 ft at the beam with 12,000 HP engines. They are designed to pull up to 12 streamers but will normally operate in eight-streamer mode. The vessel will be dedicated to the North Sea market but will work off-season in the West African market. Both vessels will be equipped with Syntron equipment.

Supercomputer power for eight

Silicon Graphics introduced the Onyx2 GroupStation bundle for oil and gas applications. The system provides supercomputer power for up to eight users, each operating a two-headed workstation. The system uses up to 64 processors with 64 gigabytes of memory and 100 gigabytes of disk storage available as shared resources. The system is scalable. A base configuration for two users includes: four R10000 processors, 512 megabytes of memory and 9 gigabytes of disk storage. Stephen L. Goldsberry, Director, Global Energy Industries, explained that two fundamental shifts in the geoscience market led to the development of the Onyx2 GroupStation:

  • More software is designed to do 3D visualization.
  • Growing data sets require more computer resources.
A drop in the price of hardware coupled with a rise in the value companies place on 3D interpretations now makes this level of power available to geoscience interpreters.

ProMAX upgrade

Landmark Graphics released the latest upgrade of ProMAX for 2D/3D seismic processing. ProMAX 7.0 now offers major enhancements for high-volume processing of large 3D seismic data sets. Improved velocity analysis tools are part of the new release. Marine seismic data can be processed either with or without a database, which can reduce processing cycle time. New visualization software, DBTools, provides faster 2D and 3D visualization of a larger number of seismic attributes. Dr. Jim Black, Vice President of Geophysical Processing Products, said "DBTools allows rapid visual detection of problems with geometry, statics and many other database attributes. In addition, we have coupled DBTools with interactive data viewing and new, flexible data navigation capabilities."

Web accessible resources

The Earth Sciences and Resources Institute, University of South Carolina (ERSI-USC) is now offering a subscription based database of Major Oil & Gas Fields of the World. The database contains over 2,100 oil and gas fields worldwide with over 60,000 items. All fields listed are over 100,000 BOE in size. Reference bibliographies for the fields are included. Also offered is the On Line Catalog of Geological Data. Well logs, maps, seismic sections, reports, theses and dissertations from over 25 years of international hydrocarbon research are available through this database. Contact ERSI-USC at

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