Category Archives: Blog

digital oilfield, big data

Big Data Goes Bust

Back in 2012, Steve Lohr writing for the New York Times did average folks a favor and introduced us to “Big Data.”

Yes, analysts, data scientists and the people in Silicon Valley had already heard of it, but thanks to Steve and the Times, the rest of us found out that it’s a “meme and a marketing term, for sure, but also shorthand for advancing trends in technology that open the door to a new approach to understanding the world and making decisions.”

Sounds intriguing, huh?

digital oilfield, big data
Despite a few years of boom for the concept of ‘Big Data,’ the term itself is old news.

Despite a few years of boom for the concept of “Big Data,” the term itself is old news. Big Data came with a “measure it all” attitude that eventually gave the phrase a bad rap, but smart companies didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Data plays an expanded role in our daily lives, including how we do business. Now, instead of worrying about how big the data is, the winning trend is to focus in on only what’s actually relevant.

Now fast forward to today: leveraging data for higher productivity and reduced costs in the oil patch is a reality. Not Big Data, but the right data. And to capitalize on this reality, we must think much, much smaller

Forget Big Data

Why small data? In part, that’s because Big Data is a pain in the you-know-what. It’s hard work, plagued by data quality issues, and it’s expensive to boot.

Matt Turck points out that an organization who buys into Big Data (and yes, it has to be the wholeorganization), needs to “capture data, store data, clean data, query data, analyze data and visualize data.” And while software can handle it, “some of it will be done by humans,” and all of it needs to be part of a seamless integration.

If this doesn’t sound easy, it’s because it’s not.

After you analyze anything and everything to get whatever info is available and come up with correlations, sometimes your takeaways aren’t only unexpected, but off the wall. For many businesses, coincidences continue to be suddenly pegged on cause and effect, leading many on some expensive wild goose chases.

At Slate, Will Oremus points out that Big Data’s problem isn’t that the data is bad, it’s this over-enthusiastic, fetishistic application of data to everything as often as possible. Data in the short-lived boom of Big Data was not being used in a careful, critical way.

Really, all of the data being collected was hard to interpret. When you’re collecting billions of data points – clicks or cursor positions on a website, turns of the drillbit or strokes of the pump – the actual importance of any single data point is lost.

So, what may seem to be a big, important high-level trend might not be a trend at all. There could be problems in the data, an issue with the methodology or some kind of human error at the well site.

Simply put, Big Data alone doesn’t always add up.

Oil, Gas and Data

While most oil and gas producers are relatively late to the Big Data party, we might consider ourselves lucky.

Why? To start, the wider the gap between the proxy and the thing you’re actually trying to measure, the more dangerous it is to place too much weight on it.

For example, well performance indicators are a function of numerous important factors outside of an engineer or supervisor’s control.

Part of the draw of Big Data was the idea you could find meaningful correlations even in very noisy (and seemingly completely unrelated) data sets. And, thanks to the sheer volume of data, coupled with powerful software algorithms that can theoretically control for confounding variables. The model we’re describing would draw upon a very wide range of well production correlations from across many basins and production environments to generate an “expected” set of production outcomes against which actual results could be compared.

Now, imagine for a minute that such a system were applied within the context of a single company or field – with just the wells in a particular area compared with one another.

Without the “magic” of Big Data, anomalies in total production in a given timeframe would be glaring. Thank you, small data!

No intelligent oilman (or woman) examining them would be under the illusion each well’s performance corresponded neatly with the historical trend of that well, let alone the particular field of wells.

Moreover, it would be relatively easy to investigate each well on a case-by-case basis and figure out what was going on.

However, a system based on the idea of Big Data would be far more opaque. Because the data set was big rather than small, it’s many times crunched and interpreted by a third-party using a proprietary mathematical model.

This lends a veneer of objectivity, but it forecloses the possibility of closely interrogating any given output to see exactly how the model arrives at its conclusions.

For example, some wells may have underperformed not because of a technical issue, but because of a skimming vacuum truck operator or a pencil whipping pumper – common occurrences apparent to humans but lost on the data.

You Are Your System

In the oil and gas market, the cost at which you extract oil and the system that enables you to do it is who you are. This ‘machine’ you either create or ascribe to is the reason your company is alive.

However, as the world changes, you and your operations must become street-smart if you’re going to succeed – perhaps, even survive.

Remember, all the work we’re doing is about getting results. We’re not innovating simply to be innovative. We’re not creating only to be creative. We’re not producing oil and gas simply to produce oil and gas. We’ve got a serious goal in mind.

To discover how to get there, we’re going to want to study the laws of production and cost to most effectively produce exactly what we’re looking for from our oil and gas assets, which is maximum profit.

That said, we look for a machine that has already proven itself: one that can be successfully implemented and enables you to scale at will, in the hands of ordinary people, all at a low cost, to give you an extreme competitive advantage.

And we simply believe that a new breed of machine serving up ‘small data’ to the right people at the right time is the quickest to get you there.

Sure, we’ll continue to hear a lot of talk about Big Data. And while this idea of Big Data has some merit, the operators who take on these type of challenges do so before they come to understand their most chronic dysfunction.

And that underlying dysfunction is always a strategic problem, a workflow problem, something easily solved by reevaluating the way they communicate – never a technological problem.

For software to be successful, it must focus on the human element, not just the technical. And the companies that forget this are setting themselves up for failure.

This is why we must focus on small data, starting on the front line, in the field with the pumpers and field staff who collect it. Because Big Data is a bust for smart oil.

Special Note: This thought piece was originally published on Rigzone. Original article can be viewed here.

https://www.rigzone.com/news/wire/big_data_goes_bust-23-mar-2018-153993-article/?all=hg2

GreaseBook challenges conventional thinking, for the better

The oil and natural gas industry has a proud history of hard work, determination, grit, and using proven conventional methods to get the job done.

Greg Archbald, a savvy entrepreneur who’s challenging conventional thinking, is demonstrating these values with GreaseBook and infusing them with innovation.

Greg Archbald, founder of GreaseBook. Photo provided by EnergyHQ, Powered by OERB
Greg Archbald, founder of GreaseBook. Photo provided by EnergyHQ, Powered by OERB

 

“GreaseBook is essentially, an app for oil and gas operators,” Archbald said. “Basically, you’ve got pumpers that drive around in pickup trucks checking all these oil and gas pump jacks we see off the roads of Texas and Oklahoma. And as an oilman, you may own 50, 100, 500 of these wells, and you have no idea the current status of any of them. So with your army of pumpers, we equip them with an app, on their smartphone, iPad, or any smart device, and then they can track and enter all of their oil, gas, water production information, commentary, sales tickets, and everything.”

Simplicity is one of the key advantages of the app, which allows information to be entered as easily as setting an alarm clock on a smartphone. With software that includes a real-time dashboard, owners can review the status of their wells and properties as soon as entries are made.

Previously used methods to keep track of well information was in the form of paper tickets, which were faxed into a main office, transported in a pumper’s truck where they sometimes blew out a window, or left contained on the actual wellsite in a pickle jar or mailbox, Archbald said.

What’s in a name?

Photo provided by EnergyHQ, Powered by OERB
Photo provided by EnergyHQ, Powered by OERB

The name “Grease Book” refers to an old industry term that Archbald describes, was a natural fit.

“Back in the ’40’s and ‘50’s, pumpers used to carry a small notebook with them for all of their daily well entries. And they’d have their greasy hands on it all day from pumping these wells, so they referred to it as their grease book,” he said. “And we thought, hell, that’s a great name. Let’s use that. So now when we talk to somebody in the industry about it, and say ‘GreaseBook,’ these pumpers know immediately what it is and what you do and what your app does, so it’s really helped out a lot.”

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Archbald’s idea to start a company came to him after attending school overseas and meeting some of the sharpest minds in mobile app development. Upon returning home, he shared his idea of building an app to monitor wells with his father, who runs an oil and gas accounting software firm, and found he had the same idea.

“It was interesting; I came back from school over Christmas. And I sat down with him in the den. I go, ‘Hey, Dad, I got this great idea.’ And he goes, ‘Well, hold on a second. I’ve got this great idea.’ And then he said the idea for GreaseBook. And I was like, okay this has to be done,” Archbald said.

Entrepreneurial spirit

Being Oklahoma based has been an advantage for Archbald and his team. He continues to work with local talent to develop his business, and recognizes the opportunity for young people to enter the industry and help change perception. So far, GreaseBook has amassed 100 companies on their app. From small mom-and-pop operations to publicly-traded companies, the app use is growing daily, ranging from Ohio and California to Texas and North Dakota.

Archbald is quick to define what led him in this direction and not take a job with his father’s company.

“I always was chasing after my personal freedom, but I don’t think that ever happens actually. I mean, so you don’t have a boss, but you have clients now that are your bosses,” he said. “But that’s rewarding, just building something that’s an extension of you and your personality, and that you can do it your own way, and, and that you can have fun doing it.”

As for succeeding as an entrepreneur, Archbald said he believes surrounding yourself with the right people is essential for growth.

“You want to be the worst player in a rock band,” he said. “You want to be able to learn from the lead guitarist. You don’t want to be the best guy in the band, because then you don’t learn anything. So if you can surround yourself with great people, you don’t have to do it all. And if you have one trait that you’re really good at, you’ll be amazed at how many other opportunities you can spin this into.”

With a successful company under his belt and more opportunity to expose GreaseBook to a wider market, Archbald encourages other young entrepreneurs he meets to not give up, so they can experience just a little of what he has.

“I just think running business and opening business and trying this whole entrepreneurial thing is just the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It’s all I want to do and talk about and it’s just fun to be able to wake up and really feel that way about something.”

Oil Production Software: The Consumerization of the Oil & Gas Enterprise

Oil Production Software meets smartphones and tablets…

There’s a big problem in oil & gas: getting the production information from the oilfield back to headquarters.

And, while the mega operators have always had the capacity to collect production information via sensors and telemetry — to the independent oil company, the ‘digital oilfield’ has always been something that lay just out of reach.

Why was this so?

Two reasons:

  • Most operators are spread too thin. Not only are field data collection systems expensive, but they also require a high level to design and deploy.
  • A large majority of the independent operator’s production portfolio consists of marginally producing wells (better known in the industry as ‘stripper wells’). Simply stated: retrofitting these wells with sensors the cost doesn’t justify the means.

However, now the independent operator has options. . . check out the video below (ie sit back and relax while the Big Boys seethe with envy!! 😉 )

**Update: 1/15/2015: We get a lot of people inquiring about this video. Since time of filming, GreaseBook has accomplished nearly everything we set out do in our pitch…

  1. CTO onboarded? Yes, and man this guy is gooooood…

  2. Customer Success Manager and help desk Staff online? Check!

  3. A GreaseBook in every pumper’s truck in America?  At 14,000,000bbls of oil flowed through the app (and counting!), we’re closer than you might think 😉

During SURGE Day at the House of Blues in downtown Houston, GreaseBook pitches its new oil production software platform to a group of more than 500 investors, thought leaders, and potential clients in the energy industry…

Attended by heavy hitters like ShellStatOilConocoPhilips, and Schlumberger, GreaseBook explains how what once was only available to the largest of operators can now be replicated by the independent oilman, with better results, in less than 20 minutes…

Through the expansion of the app’s features like the ability to track and monitor well testing, allocations, and downtime app has enabled GreaseBook to compete with the best (read: most expensive) oil and gas production allocation software on the market

Being an independent operator has never been so good!! 🙂

GreaseBook mentioned on CNBC

The other day, GreaseBook got to speak with Tom DiChristopher, a journalist who covers the oil market for CNBC in New York…

oil production software productivity tough times

Tom was interested to know more about a trend he was seeing in the industry — essentially, a move toward greater emphasis on productivity measures like the GreaseBook oil production software in a tough price market.

We were thrilled to speak with Tom (and we were even more impressed with his depth of working knowledge of the oilfield — very cool, Tom!)

Tom spoke with a few of GreaseBook’s clients as well as several other Tech Firms in the oil & gas space… a fun read, an even fun-ner experience for GreaseBook to be mentioned on CNBC 🙂

To check out the article, click here.

E&P Software: GreaseBook meets “Shark Tank”of E&P Software…

Last week, Houston-based SURGE (an accelerator that provides access to capital, customers, and mentors to E&P software and other energy-related companies) extended invitations to 11 of the world’s most promising Energy Startups….

More than 500 companies vied for a seat at the SURGE table and the opportunity to break bread with an elite group of SURGE alumni…

From this year’s applicant pool, SURGE accepted less than 2% of the total applicants. And, with members of the class hailing from such places as Chicago, New York, and San Francisco — Oklahoma City’s GreaseBook is damned proud to round out the mix.

e&p software accelerator

That’s right, SURGE thinks GreaseBook is onto something hot, and has extended a formal invite for GreaseBook to join the ranks of this increasingly elite group of energy & oil software startups!

What does this mean for GreaseBook?

In addition to seed funding, GreaseBook will be given access to 100+ mentors representing the world’s leading experts, policymakers, scientists, decision makers, and influencers in the energy arena…

Surge is only in its third year, and its previous two classes have already gone on to raise $25 million in funding while creating more than 150 jobs…

Some of the industry’s most well-known players (Halliburton, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Shell, ABB, Schlumberger, RigNet) are plugged into the SURGE community. Essentially, by joining SURGE, GreaseBook will be granted access to the industry that simply can’t be found anywhere else…

What does this mean for you, the E&P Software User?

While SURGE offers access to leading experts on design and infrastructure of GreaseBook’s operations, when it comes to influencing the direction & functionality of the app, our best asset is YOU — the independent operator.

Not only can our clients going to get a better app, they can also expect an even more dynamic group of folks to service and stand behind it…

We have a whole slew of app enhancements that we’ll be rolling out to our users in the coming months. And guess what? They were all ideas submitted by the GreaseBook community… engineers, owners, admin, supervisors, and pumpers like YOU.

Thanks to the SURGE Accelerator, GreaseBook is ‘pumped’.

Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour — and squeeze every last drop of oil — from their operations.

Pump more oil. Waste less time. Make more money.
~GreaseBook

E&P Software

**In November, Surge moved into its own building, a 58,000-square-foot space that also serves as a co-working space for technology entrepreneurs and other E&P Software upstarts.

 

GreaseBook Founder named Up & Coming "Industry Disruptor" by OGM Magazine

Just recently, The OGM (Global Oil & Gas Industry News) featured GreaseBook’s founder & CEO (Greg Archbald) as one of its Up & Coming “Industry Disruptors”!!

From exploring Greg’s definition of “success” to disclosing his role model (W. Axl Rose, notorious front man of 80s rock band Guns ‘N Roses), the article gives the reader some interesting (and fun!) insight into Greg’s life and how he got to where he is today.

We’re proud of everything Greg has accomplished, and even more grateful to The OGM for recognizing his hard work — check out the full article by clicking here:

http://theogm.com/upandcoming/gregarchbald/

 

E&P Tanks Software: Oil & Gas Awards Nominate GreaseBook Pumper App

The other day, the Oil & Gas Awards rolled into Oklahoma City to celebrate and recognize all sorts of advances made in the industry over the past 12 months… Among the likes of Halliburton, Continental Resources, and Chesapeake, the Oil & Gas Awards committee named the GreaseBook App (essentially, E&P Tanks Software which assists pumpers in monitoring their oil & gas production) as one of their finalists…

For which award you ask?

The Future Industry Leader Award!

GreaseBook was honored to take part in the ceremony, but was more satisfied knowing that a large number of small to mid-sized operators are recognizing that consumer electronics (ie iPads and iPhones) and cost-effective apps (like GreaseBook!) are enabling them to work smarter, not harder.

The Oil & Gas Awards Committee recognized GreaseBook for “having attained and demonstrated an impressive depth of technical knowledge in its field, and showing an innovative approach to its work.”

For us, that’s code for:

Eliminating those greasy Run Tickets

Empowering your pumpers (thus increasing your oil production…)

Thwarting greedy oil purchasers

**Side note: don’t be shy — click one of the links above!**

Thanks to the Oil & Gas Awards Committee, GreaseBook is humbled.

Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour — and squeeze every last drop of oil — from their operations.

Pump more oil. Waste less time. Make more money.

~GreaseBook

Oil Well Monitoring: Oil Well Monitoring with an iPad App

GreaseBook, an iPad app explicitly for oil well monitoring, was recently featured in Hart’s E&P Magazine… check out the article below!

Smart technology provides relief for reporting headaches.

Over the last five years, there has been a major paradigm shift in the source of innovation.

Although the supermajors of the oil and gas industry still contend for the top spot in industry innovation (as demonstrated by their success in exploiting ever deeper, more remote basins), some of the larger E&Ps are resisting the call to mobilize their working environment. These companies are saying no to connectivity, restricting the use of smartphones and tablets, and overlooking the applications and convenience their employees have come to enjoy and even depend on in everyday life.

oil well monitoring

Why is this so? Old habits die hard. Large companies look at mobile and pervasive computing from the IT mindset – control and compartmentalize – ahead of the benefits the organization will gain by enabling its teams through the mobile medium. However, with the employee time savings and relative affordability that the mobile medium has to offer E&P companies, smaller operators are taking note. Many of the small- to medium-sized independents have started to look to consumer electronics and cost-effective apps to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour – and squeeze every last drop of oil – from their operations.

David vs. Goliath

The GreaseBook app allows operators to use consumer technology to streamline their wellsite reporting. (Image courtesy of GreaseBook)

Monitor your oil well with an app

For years, the standard protocol of large production companies has been to monitor and execute all deepwater drilling activities via sophisticated satellite networks. Most wells over a certain capex are fitted with real-time optimization tools and sensors. However, for many smaller industry players, the digital oil field has always been a mirage that lay just out of reach.

Most operations managers and field engineers feel they are already spread too thin. Many field data collection systems require a high level of expertise to design, deploy, and operate. These systems also require general IT, control theory, and petroleum engineering skill sets to properly manage. While continually updating risk assessments, quantifying uncertainties, and integrating data across autocratic domain knowledge silos might all be part of an average day at one of the majors, for the smaller players, the cost and energy required does not justify the means.

While large independents and supermajors have entrenched themselves in advanced analytics software, data repositories, and massive IT departments to oversee it all, smartphones and tablet computers have been piggybacking their way into smaller companies. How? In the pockets and purses of the employees who work there.

Oil Well Monitoring: The pen and paper live on

It may surprise most people to learn that in a large majority of independent operating companies, the pen and paper method still remains the dominant form of field data collection. However, this is quickly changing. In most operations, field personnel are contracted to oversee and troubleshoot an operator’s leases. These field personnel usually fill out industry-standard paper gauge sheets. All oil, gas, and water production measurements are handwritten, and (if the operator is lucky) pumpers include any special commentary before mailing or faxing these figures to headquarters.

Although technologies like remote operations and SCADA have sought to address productivity and efficiency issues, many independent operators are of the mindset that a marginal well is going to produce what it is going to produce regardless of whether its production is monitored or not. Even in the case of high-flow wells, most operators require that their pumpers visit these sites several times a day, trumping some of the potential benefits a wireless monitoring device may tout.

When it comes to smaller operators, telemetry providers promoting real-time information may have missed the mark. Many operators are not concerned about immediate information. What they truly desire is a way to streamline the redundancy, reporting, and productivity issues that come with field data collection. What is more, they want a way to make sense of it all. And, with many pumpers fast approaching retirement age, operators are now searching for effective ways to transfer the intimate knowledge they have gained about their production properties to the next generation of engineers, managers, and field workers.

Some forward-looking E&P companies are addressing this through consumer electronics. Because of the shared repositories of information on which these mobile devices subsist, intimate knowledge of a company’s oil and gas assets is not stored away deep in a file cabinet or in some “autocratic domain silo” but is easily accessed via the cloud.

Rather than focus on the management and operations of onsite data servers, a majority (if not all) of the smart device software apps are hosted on the cloud. For the smaller operator, this means that employees can focus on what they are best at: overseeing oil and gas production, not managing complicated IT structure. Every piece of historical production information is stored offsite at a cloud storage provider, from which a relief pumper or a newly hired engineer can easily access needed information for review.

Smaller operators also are becoming more cognizant of the free apps on the iPad and iPhone that are the perfect complements to their business. Many of these apps only take a few minutes to set up but have the potential to yield days in productivity increases from operations managers, field engineers, and pumpers every year. For example, pumpers generally have a task list of things they need to do on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to keep their leases running in top form. By forming pumper message groups in Apple’s Reminder app (which comes standard on every iPad and iPhone), oil and gas operators have an effective way to deliver daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists (e.g. drop soap sticks, pump maintenance, chemical schedules, gas chart calibration, etc.).

Engineers who oversee the operations of small producers are employing free file sharing services such as Dropbox to store and deploy important documents like well completion reports and workover information. Once files are uploaded into Dropbox, employees are no longer tethered to their desktop computers. A field engineer can view a well history file from his tablet or smartphone in the field and share this same file with his team of field personnel.

Pumpers also have been quick to realize that by using the camera function on their smart devices they are able to save an employer thousands of dollars each year. By taking photos or video of problems in the field and posting them to messaging applications, veteran foremen and engineers can visually engage with their production assets. Where once issues could only be resolved through verbal descriptions over the telephone, companies are now able to visually troubleshoot problems from the office, thus avoiding costly onsite service calls.

A new breed of specialized apps has begun to crop up in the oil and gas industry. GreaseBook, an iPad application for operators and their pumpers, has eliminated the need for the traditional paper gauge sheet workflow. The company designed the app to work in oil-producing areas with zero mobile connectivity, and the app touts zero setup time and no contracts. The company has set out to improve the way pumpers record and interact with the vital production information they collect in the field, and the app can potentially eliminate 99% of all in-house, field-related administrative duties.

Operators are happy to outsource many of their core computing and operations processes to third-party companies because of the convenience and amount of time that is saved. What is more, company employees actually want to use these smart devices, which means management does not have to endure the typical push-back of new initiatives.

The platforms on which these smartphones and tablets run are nothing to scoff at. Take Apple, which according to market value surpassed ExxonMobil as the world’s most valuable company in 2011. The apps that run on these smart devices are backed by cloud computing heavy hitters like Microsoft and RackSpace Cloud systems and are connected by mobile communications giants like Verizon and AT&T. Essentially, operators feel more comfortable leaving the responsibilities of their core computing and operations processes to third-party consumer companies, not only because of the convenience and amount of time they save but also because these companies dedicate 100% of their resources to providing and perfecting these services.

Democratization of the oil field

Despite the success operators are having with the implementation of these easy-to-use, cost-effective apps, many of the larger operating companies are resisting the call to mobilize their working environment. The cost of not going mobile comes in many forms. It comes in the form of not attracting the strongest candidates to replace the industry’s aging work force. And it comes in the form of not making the best decisions due to limited information. These petite E&P companies may soon find themselves the envy of their larger, more “sophisticated” brethren. Something happens when people start to use smart technology. Their focus shifts from “how things get done” to “how things need to get done,” and for owners and managers of E&P companies, this is a welcome transformation.

Well Production Data: GreaseBook well production data app for iPad featured in The Oklahoman

GreaseBook well production data app for operators was recently featured in an article written by the energy editor of The Oklahoman. The article was aptly entitled, “Local software company aims to digitize oilfield”, and addresses GreaseBook’s goal of making  (consumer friendly) technology available to small and mid sized oil and gas producers.

Well production data

Although the concept of the “Digital Oilfield” is nothing new, GreaseBook recognized that the efficiencies gained in the oilfield from going digital have always been a mirage that lay just out of reach for the small E&P. However, with the advent of consumer technology (iPads and iPhones), the larger, “more sophisticated” Super Majors and large independents are eyeing the small(er) producer with increasing envy…

Check out the article here: http://newsok.com/local-software-company-aims-to-digitize-oil-field/article/3872479

Oil and Gas Data Management: GreaseBook on The Energy Makers Show

Last week, The Energy Makers Show interviewed GreaseBook to find out a little more about the app’s approach to oil and gas data management for lease operators in the oil patch…

In the clip below, Russ Capper (Owner/CEO of The Energy Makers Show) talks with Greg Archbald (Founder of GreaseBook) to understand exactly how the app replaces the paper gauge sheet…


The EnergyMakers Show is a weekly video podcast featuring interviews with energy innovators, thought leaders and public policy makers discussing the challenges of the world’s rapidly increasing thirst for energy.

We were thrilled to be a part of the interview, and even more grateful to the Energy Makers Show for spreading the word about GreaseBook — be sure to pay Russ a visit at www.theenergymakers.com!