Premier Oil Adopts GridBank for Easy Sub-Surface Data Management

Premier Oil is a fast-growing oil and gas exploration and production company with current interests in ten countries around the world. Premier is devoted entirely to the “upstream” sector of the industry – the exploitation of oil and gas – while managing a total reserve and resource base in excess of 773 million barrels of oil.

Business is expanding rapidly at Premier Oil – in 2012, production output grew by 43 percent and profit increased by 41 percent after tax to a record high of USD 252 million. Sustaining this kind of growth depends largely on the company’s ability to make smart acquisitions and discover new oil reserves.


Tapping into Growing Data Volumes…

Identifying and exploiting oil and gas reserves is no easy task. To ensure that valuable exploration funds are allocated properly, Premier Oil must gather huge volumes of seismic and geological data and process it into detailed images that geologists and geophysicists can use to determine the probable location of new oil and gas reserves.

David Edwards, Group Information Services Manager at Premier Oil, elaborates, “Seismic and geophysical analysis plays a crucial role in our exploration work. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to pinpoint new reserves – so we would miss out on opportunities to grow our business.”

“While geologists and geophysicists only make up five percent of the staff at Premier, their work accounts for roughly 80 percent of all the data we store and manage. A large part of this comes from the raw seismic and geophysical data that we use to create images of the earth’s sub-surface. This data is packaged in binary form, and cannot be compressed, resulting in huge “SEG-Y” files that average 50 to 70 GB in size.”

“With a small Information Management [IM] team, we find that the sheer volume of sub-surface data outstrips our ability to manage it effectively, and we sometimes get caught off-guard by urgent requests from the exploration team.”

Tackling information access and capacity concerns…

Premier’s IM team wanted to find a way to free up spare capacity on its tier-one storage systems by introducing a more structured and automated process for archiving older files. At the same time, to meet the requirements of the exploration team, it needs to increase the accessibility of the archive and make it easier to find and retrieve files when necessary.

“Managing our existing archive is a largely manual and time-consuming process: if we are looking for a specific file, we have to comb through different folders and open up files to see what they contain,” says David Edwards.


Time to Take Control!

Seeking a solution, Premier turned to Eurotech – being a long-time service provider and IBM Business Partner, and the outcome was Tarmin GridBank.

GridBank makes distributed storage systems and the media they host more transpost_parent, so users across the enterprise have the information they need at their fingertips. The solution is media-independent and compatible with a wide range of products, eliminating vendor lock-in at the infrastructure level. With native support for more than 550 industry-specific file formats (including sub-surface exploration formats such as SEG-Y), GridBank is ideally positioned to meet the needs of oil and gas companies such as Premier.

“Tarmin GridBank was exactly what we were looking for,” remarks David Edwards. “We are confident it will not only make it much easier to manage our tier-one and archive storage – but it will also create an index of all our SEG-Y files that will enable federated search across all storage pools.”

He adds: “SEG-Y is an unusual format, and most file systems aren’t able to read it. As a result, it is difficult to gain an overview of the post_contents of our archive without actually retrieving the files and loading them into our applications. GridBank will solve this problem completely: via the index, we will be able to see what each file contains, so that we can find and restore the data we need much more quickly and easily.”

The next step was to select a solid hardware platform, capable of delivering the performance and reliability that Premier needed to get the most out of the Tarmin GridBank software. For this, Eurotech proposed IBM System x server technology…

Tony Klapcia, Sales Manager at Eurotech, comments: “We have been an IBM Business Partner for more than 20 years, and our experience has proven that IBM offers some of the most reliable and powerful technology solutions on the market. We wanted to give Premier the best foundation possible for running the Tarmin GridBank software, and IBM System x absolutely met that requirement.”


Close collaboration, smooth implementation

Premier is working closely with teams from Eurotech and Tarmin to carefully configure the solution so that it fits the company’s specific needs, as David Edwards explains: “Eurotech and Tarmin came together and collaborated with us to design a solution that will be perfectly tailored to our requirements and ways of working. Both partners have been very responsive and willing to adapt when we propose changes – their joint efforts are ensuring a smooth implementation.

With the combined Tarmin GridBank and IBM System x solution, Premier will be better placed to manage its rapidly expanding data landscape. With its powerful deduplication capabilities, GridBank will allow Premier to eliminate unnecessary replicas of large files and reduce total data volumes. This will enable the company to migrate more data to cost-effective secondary storage, reducing the total cost of ownership.


Driving new control and insight…

By introducing a new level of control for storage management, the solution will enable Premier Oil’s IM team to handle data in a way that recognises its value as a business asset, rather than just its technical characteristics. Looking at the bigger picture, this will help exploration teams to work more efficiently and allow Premier to unlock more value from its data. In turn, this will empower the company to make faster, smarter business decisions, driving greater agility and competitive advantage.

David Edwards concludes, “Eurotech and Tarmin have been great partners thus far, and are walking every step of this journey with us. The integrated IBM and Tarmin solution provides us with a completely new approach to storing, managing and understanding data – one that will accelerate our ability to identify and exploit oil and gas reserves and support strong business growth.”


For more information, read the full press release by clicking here.