by Patrick Brooks
NRGX’s flagship product, LAS Worx, has been 40 years in the making.
When Randy Striemer arrived in Calgary, he had all his possessions in a suitcase and $106 in his pocket. In early 1978, the day after arriving from Ontario, he landed a job with an Olivetti dealership as a typewriter technician. Later that year, he ended up meeting his wife-to-be, Tara, through a mutual friend. Around this time, Tara’s family were moving to Chicago after a five year stay in Calgary because her American father was promoted by Amoco (originally Standard Oil) to lead their international exploration team. With a little clandestine help from Tara, Randy’s typewriter days would soon be numbered.
One of the people who lived next door to Tara’s family during their time in Calgary was Tom Short Sr., the president of Riley’s Datashare International, an oilwell logging company. Being American, Tara was keen to find Randy a job in the US since her family’s return to the United States. Although headquartered in Calgary, she knew that Riley’s had a Houston office, so she sent a letter to Mr. Short asking if he would consider giving her boyfriend a job.
With no experience in well logs or the petroleum industry at all, Randy was invited to the shop to see what he could do. He was soon offered a job supervising the night shift of Riley’s log data digitizing facility, and eventually became their production manager. As it turns out, Tara’s match-making skills sparked the beginning of a 40-year career in well log data.
A few years into Randy’s journey, Don Plewes, now the president of Riley’s, thought Randy would be great talking to people downtown, and asked if he’d be willing to give up his facility role to join their sales team. Apprehensive at first, having no previous sales experience, Randy took on the roll and hit the ground running. Soon he was on a first name basis with explorationists and geologists in the Canadian energy sector.
Riley’s was a pioneer in digitizing well logs, one of two key types of data used by geologists as they scout for drilling locations (the other key data type being seismic). In the early days, pascal blueline paper well logs were produced by companies such as Schlumberger or Weatherford for their customers; Riley’s would gather and reproduce these paper logs as a service to the industry and digitize them on request by laying them out on a digitizing table, each curve traced by hand and then archived. Because this type of digitizing predated the industry standard LAS data format being established, data was retrieved from the Riley’s database and written in a proprietary format compatible with each customer’s system. For example, if data was requested for Amoco, it would be output and delivered in Amoco-A format, or a special format for Chevron, and so on.
In July 1993, the Alberta Provincial Government mandated submission of digital well logs by all producers, and as a result, amassed a sizable database on par but not as large as the databases of commercial data vendors such as Riley’s and their competitors. Although those companies were able to digitize logs that the provincial government couldn’t get, the province’s database was now another option for geologists and explorationists as they sought out well log data.
On the commercial data side, there had been a series of mergers and acquisitions of data providers since the mid-1990s, so when the turn of the millennium arrived, there were four or five key data companies with similar well coverage being sold between them.
As Randy watched these industry changes happening however, he was able to see opportunity, and on his own dime, began developing an LAS software tool. Soon after the 1997 sale of controlling interest of Riley’s, a publicly-traded company, Randy opted to go out on his own equipped with his new creation, and launched LogTech Canada to market the software. His instincts were right, and two years later, LogTech entered the log data business, using the provincial government sourced data as their original feedstock. LogTech was so successful, that it was eventually bought out by IHS Energy (now IHS Markit) in 2009, and their proprietary software was amalgamated within the suite of IHS product offerings. After selling LogTech however, Randy’s mind for data was still cranking out ideas. After an agreed upon one-year hiatus from re-entering the market, Randy, along with Don Plewes, the former president of Riley’s, emerged ready for a new adventure . . . NRGX Technologies.
Over the years, Randy watched as many oil and gas companies amassed large volumes of digital log data, from a variety of internal and external sources, with structure and content inconsistencies and deficiencies. Because there was no easy way for these inconsistencies to be sorted, three complications would arise:
1) The structure of the data itself would be slightly different between data sources.
2) Within an individual log file, there could be myriad names for similar log curves depending on where they were sourced. For example, a sonic curve may be called a “DT,” an “AU,” or an “ITT.”
3) The files may be duplicated, or contain duplicate curve content.
To help with these complications, NRGX developed software tools that would clean the data, and help find relevant bits. LAS WORX “CLEAN”, as the name suggests, cleans LAS data, making sure file structure and content is consistent, which saves companies significant overhead by automating the cleaning process. “The LAS files cleaning application is what got the company rolling,” remembers Randy.
LAS WORX “FIND” is a tool that can be pointed anywhere within an organization: on a desktop, on a shared system, remotely to partners’ offices, to logging companies, or to government agencies. So, when a geologist sits down at a computer workstation, he or she has a good picture of what’s going on. “Some people have called it ‘Google for logs,’” quips Striemer.
Since its launch eight years ago, LAS WORX has evolved rapidly, providing cleaning, finding, and now Cloud storage of customers’ log data. An even more exciting development is in the works which will enable LAS WORX users to have much broader access to log data reducing their reliance on log digitizing services.
In Randy’s estimation, faster and easier access to more data continues to be a roadblock for oil and gas companies because even though all wells are logged digitally at the wellsite, this data can be difficult to access by other companies when released or lost entirely. This translates into more ideas for the man who not so long ago, had no idea what well log data was!