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Technology Itself: A New E&P Challenge


Riehl, William G., Landmark Graphics, Aberdeen, United Kingdom


This paper is a cautionary note about the allure of fancy technology. The author will focus on the general issue of map-making, but the principle can be carried into other E&P disciplines. Understand the problem, then select and understand appropriate technology.

There were subtle benefits of the older, slower map making process. In the rush for cycle time reduction we risk losing the first benefit, time for reflection. Second, in the collective decision-making process everyone understood maps. As our technological “solutions” get more complex a common understanding of what is hanging on the digital wall fades. A third benefit was the understanding of how “images” were constructed. On the map, the inter­preter understood every line. We often lack knowledge of how interpolation, auto-tracking, data retrieval etc. work and this is to our peril. Fourth, there was a kind of assumed distrust of a map. The interpreter had to make the sale. Computer images seem to come with some kind of gravitas, some kind of assumed “truth”.

This author confesses to being a relative old-timer with a history as a Gulf Coast pencil and paper geologist and now a European purveyor of the “offending” technology. Young people who join our business are often technophiles, sometimes blinded by technology’s bright images and seduced into seeing these tools as “solutions”. Even mature interpreters and managers are sometimes beguiled by the digital image. A revisit to first principles is called for but too easy to ignore on the way to the keyboard and mouse.