Digits Come to 'Classics' Rescue

Logs Being Preserved

When David Armitage talks about his company's newest project, his zeal comes through the telephone line like an old-fashioned gusher.

The A2D CEO says the "Log Preservation Initiative" is more than a commercial effort. It's an attempt to create a nationwide database that preserves a strategic national asset.

The initiative seeks to digitize logs from the original Mylar film. A2D offers to scan and digitize the logs, giving the owners free online access to the data. The company then offers depth-corrected raster images for a fee from its database to interested clients.

Armitage likens the project to efforts by the movie industry to preserve deteriorating classic films.

While several companies provide digitizing and related services, A2D's mission is to "create the world's first and largest repository of irreplaceable log data," Armitage said. He said the company's vision is to see every paper log in the United States digitized.

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When David Armitage talks about his company's newest project, his zeal comes through the telephone line like an old-fashioned gusher.

The A2D CEO says the "Log Preservation Initiative" is more than a commercial effort. It's an attempt to create a nationwide database that preserves a strategic national asset.

The initiative seeks to digitize logs from the original Mylar film. A2D offers to scan and digitize the logs, giving the owners free online access to the data. The company then offers depth-corrected raster images for a fee from its database to interested clients.

Armitage likens the project to efforts by the movie industry to preserve deteriorating classic films.

While several companies provide digitizing and related services, A2D's mission is to "create the world's first and largest repository of irreplaceable log data," Armitage said. He said the company's vision is to see every paper log in the United States digitized.

It's a worthy goal, according to AAPG's Robert Merrill, chairman of the AGI National Geoscience Data Repository Committee, which is charged with finding ways to preserve geoscience data.

Digitizing solves a major issue in preserving the data, Merrill said: physical storage costs.

"As an exploration geologist, I see no reason to preserve the film" once it is digitized, Merrill said, adding that the digital data is backed up in computer systems, usable with today's technology and readily available.

While states have an interest in encouraging drilling, preservation efforts have been haphazard in the past, Armitage said, and mergers and acquisitions have often led to huge non-indexed collections of logs in central or disparate locations.

Merrill concurs that the Mylar logs are the most accurate source for digitizing. Subsequent paper copies can be stretched, creased or otherwise distorted and corrupted, he said.

"The operator's original film is the most pristine copy of a log," said Dave Kotowych, A2D president. "This is what we are endeavoring to capture and preserve. It is in everyone's interest to preserve the integrity of one of the largest and most valuable data assets in the oil and gas industry.

"In the end," he said, "exploration geologists will have access to first generation data, better than any other that exists at present."

Digitizing also helps avoid damage that can occur to the film over time, including creasing, cracking and image deterioration from temperature and humidity fluctuations, he said.

Step by Step

Armitage, who joined A2D as a consultant in October and became CEO two months later, said the nine-year-old, Houston-based company has become a manufacturer, producing "digits instead of widgets."

The company processes about six gigabytes of data daily, or about 80,000 logs per month, he said, and tasks that once took 18 months have been trimmed to one month.

The process involves three major steps:

  • Teams are dispatched to scan the original film, a job that can take hours or weeks, depending on the size of the archive.
  • The scanned data is transmitted via the Internet to one of two A2D facilities in India for the most labor-intensive phase of the work — indexing, depth-calibrating and digitizing.
  • The information is transmitted back to Houston, where it is verified and put through the company's quality control processes.

Armitage said the company's proprietary processes are involved in four major areas:

  • Software used to scan the data.
  • Quality control, where errors as small as 1.5 to 2 millimeters can be spotted.
  • Online availability and distribution through one of the industry's largest e-commerce sites.
  • Software tools to enhance the customers' ability to use the data.

Stories abound in the industry of companies improving their productivity as they move to raster and vector data and away from paper.

In the "good old days," finding well information could involve a trip to wherever the needed logs were stored and copying 20 or 30 feet of logs, Armitage said. Current technology allows the geologist to locate the needed well or wells on the computer screen and simply click to pull up a view of the log and related data.

Industry response is an acknowledgement of "how precious this data is," he said, adding that if an original log should be lost or destroyed, "it's like the well was never drilled."

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