PRODML and Energistics: Current Status

At our regular Hydrocarbon Allocation (HA) Forum in Aberdeen yesterday, we had a terrific “state of the union” presentation by Laurence Ormerod, Consultant and Project Manager for the PRODML standard. By the way, if you don’t attend our HA Forums then you might want to check out our website for details, and sign up for our mailshots. They are intended to be deliberately free from sales messages, and are generally held in Aberdeen at breakfast or lunchtime.

Laurence provided a really good summary of the history of standards development for production data.

Energistics, the current steward of the standard, is a successor to POSC, which had invested heavily and somewhat unsuccessfully in data storage models. Energistics had decided to focus on standards for data exchange, as this was deemed a more manageable problem to solve. Some evidence to support this view exists in the form of WITSML, the standard for drilling data exchange, and the initial focus for Energistics in 2001. WITSML has seen fairly broad, but by no means comprehensive, adoption.

However, the original version of the PRODML standard for production data exchange was widely considered to be somewhat inflexible and quite difficult to implement. Outside Norway, where companies and regulators had shown a persistence that was impressive, if not astonishing, adoption had been very low. A lack of reference implementations contributed to the problems that adopters encountered, meaning that people often had difficulty in validating their implementations. In addition, the long periods required for standards development discouraged participation, particularly from small operators.

In 2011 and 2012 some work by a special interest group focussed on regulator requirements made progress with a standard for exchange of information on production volumes. This work forms the basis of a major revision of PRODML that retains many of the objects that were previously defined in the standard, but wraps these in a new, simpler, and more flexible structure. The initial use case is reporting and exchange of information between operators and non-operators of assets in North America. Interestingly, regulatory reporting is specifically excluded from scope at this time. The hope is to have an initial delivery of the revised standard during 2015.

One key problem, highlighted during the talk and in questions afterwards, is the fact that the new version is a breaking change to the standard. It will likely not be implemented by the Norwegians, and there is no gateway planned between the two standards.

It is my view that this is a mistake, and will not assist with either the standardisation effort or encourage participation. At the least, the update should have in its scope the development of a gateway or transformation between the two versions, so that it is possible for systems on version 1 to exchange information with version 2. This is an example of a general point I’ve made in several conference presentations.

The second problem, again a personal view, is the lack of smaller operators as active participants in the development of the standards. In fact, our experience is that many companies are not even aware of the existence of the standards, and are unconvinced of the benefits if they are. To change this situation requires a more active effort to reach out to the broader community, and to make participation easier and adoption simpler. The use cases for the standards should express, in absolutely clear terms, what pain points are being addressed.

Overall, Laurence’s presentation was excellent, and well received, and hopefully went some way to spreading the word on the benefits of standardisation. His slides are available here.

Location: Aberdeen, Scotland