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Entering and Competing in the Digital World: A Guide to the Maze That is Digital Data

Daphne Lampman¹

¹Clayton Williams Energy, Inc

Abstract

The oil and gas business is moving faster every day. For the most part, gone are the days of paper logs hanging on walls with push pins, geologists who hand contour structure maps, engineers coloring miles and miles of logs. Part of this push is the move to digital data. Our younger generations of explorationists are coming out of college with an intimate knowledge of digital work. They wield a computer mouse and a keyboard as easily as the older ones wield map colors and engineer scales. The young ones think the older ones move too slow, and the older ones think the younger ones move too fast. So how do you bridge this gap in order to create a more efficient, self-stabilizing and competitive workplace? With the use of a well-planned and executed, organized and centralized, digital database.

A good database involves four essential components: organization, database administration, redundancy, and external backups. The first two, organization and database administration, are mutually inclusive. One does not exist without the other. Organization is essential in that the database should be accessible across all platforms within the company, from geology to engineering, from accounting to upper management. The database should be organized in a manner that anyone can open it up and find what they need with minimal effort. A well trained database administrator (DBA) is needed to establish and proctor that organization, whether it is by county, field, operated versus non-operated, etc. A good DBA will have skills that include knowledge and training in at least one discipline, with an ability to cross reference into another discipline. For example, a degreed geologist who can think in engineering terms will also be able to cross other disciplinary boundaries. This is so that the DBA can be certain that all disciplines can access the database in a user-friendly way. The DBA should also be well versed in at least one application, with either training in, or the willingness to train, in other applications.

The third and fourth components of digital database management are also interchangeable, but very dependent on the other. Redundancies and external backups are critical. Digital data is fun to play with, and is a very powerful tool in the petroleum industry. However, all technology can be flawed, or become flawed. Data can be lost or corrupted in an instant. Redundancies protect the data in real time. A good rule of thumb is the Rule of Three. A Rule of Three would be utilizing a group of folders that is accessed by the applications, one group that is accessed by employees, and one group that is hidden from view from all except the tech team that administers the database. External backups can be run daily, weekly, monthly, or any numbers of other frequencies. These backups will come into use if a database is accidentally deleted by a new user, if it is corrupted due to electrical or server issues, or just because the application is having a bad day.

These four essential, interchangeable, elements, organization, database administration, redundancy, and external backups, will allow a company to move seamlessly into the digital world. Being able to compete in a market that is forever changing will be the key to longevity and success. The oil and gas business is moving faster every day. For the most part, gone are the days of paper logs hanging on walls with push pins, geologists who hand contour structure maps, engineers coloring miles and miles of logs. Part of this push is the move to digital data. Our younger generations of explorationists are coming out of college with an intimate knowledge of digital work. They wield a computer mouse and a keyboard as easily as the older ones wield map colors and engineer scales. The young ones think the older ones move too slow, and the older ones think the younger ones move too fast. So how do you bridge this gap in order to create a more efficient, self-stabilizing and competitive workplace? With the use of a well-planned and executed, organized and centralized, digital database.

A good database involves four essential components: organization, database administration, redundancy, and external backups. The first two, organization and database administration, are mutually inclusive. One does not exist without the other. Organization is essential in that the database should be accessible across all platforms within the company, from geology to engineering, from accounting to upper management. The database should be organized in a manner that anyone can open it up and find what they need with minimal effort. A well trained database administrator (DBA) is needed to establish and proctor that organization, whether it is by county, field, operated versus non-operated, etc. A good DBA will have skills that include knowledge and training in at least one discipline, with an ability to cross reference into another discipline. For example, a degreed geologist who can think in engineering terms will also be able to cross other disciplinary boundaries. This is so that the DBA can be certain that all disciplines can access the database in a user-friendly way. The DBA should also be well versed in at least one application, with either training in, or the willingness to train, in other applications.

The third and fourth components of digital database management are also interchangeable, but very dependent on the other. Redundancies and external backups are critical. Digital data is fun to play with, and is a very powerful tool in the petroleum industry. However, all technology can be flawed, or become flawed. Data can be lost or corrupted in an instant. Redundancies protect the data in real time. A good rule of thumb is the Rule of Three. A Rule of Three would be utilizing a group of folders that is accessed by the applications, one group that is accessed by employees, and one group that is hidden from view from all except the tech team that administers the database. External backups can be run daily, weekly, monthly, or any numbers of other frequencies. These backups will come into use if a database is accidentally deleted by a new user, if it is corrupted due to electrical or server issues, or just because the application is having a bad day.

These four essential, interchangeable, elements, organization, database administration, redundancy, and external backups, will allow a company to move seamlessly into the digital world. Being able to compete in a market that is forever changing will be the key to longevity and success.

 

AAPG Datapages/Search and Discovery Article #90190©AAPG Southwest Section Annual Convention, Midland, Texas, May 11-14, 2014