Case Study in Collaboration for Petroleum Data Management

Jess B. Kozman1

1Woodside Energy Ltd., Perth, Australia

This case study tracks the history and success of five years of digital transformation of a petroleum exploration data set from physical tape storage; through data transcription, indexing, and metadata capture; to fully cloud enabled object storage, backup and delivery. The project involved cooperation between operators, processing companies, private sector technology companies, government regulatory bodies, and joint venture partners. Data management processes were continuously updated for changing business priorities and compliance with state and federal data submission guidelines, generating industry accepted optimum practices and lessons learned. The data set includes extensive geophysical data from over 40 years of exploration and production in the Westralian Superbasin, including coverage in what is the largest contiguous area of offshore 3D seismic data sets available in the public domain.

Digital transformation initiatives are driven by the need to both preserve and manage the ongoing value of petroleum exploration data.  Since 2015 Woodside has recognized the value of managing large volumes of petroleum technical data on cloud platforms at an enterprise scale in order to access new and innovative business models. Collaborations that improve the industry’s digital capability level set the stage for enormous competitive advantage for those who move quickly on technology adoption and innovation. Early business drivers included access to software using large amounts of compute cycles on short notice, an agile culture of innovation, collaboration and acceleration, avoiding technical debt from large capital outlays and long project cycles, and using compute, memory, bandwidth and storage at enterprise scale. Woodside now has considerable experience with the benefits of accessing exploration data through a “subsurface desktop” using virtual machines deployed on an enterprise cloud platform. This configuration, in fact, made the transition to a working from home environment much smoother for Woodside, and allowed the company to continue to meet critical deadlines for submission of data to government bodies and access to open file data to support important business deadlines.

Woodside in 2015 adopted a “cloud-first” strategy for data management, including a determination that enterprise public cloud storage was an approved use case for data up to and including confidential geology and geophysics exploration data. This led to a capital investment in a multi-year program to transform data from over 200,000 individual pieces of storage media using a knowledgeable third-party contractor with scalable access to personnel and equipment. The data moved through an inventorying, indexing, and quality assurance process, generating what is now over 12 petabytes of exploration data in object storage with enterprise cloud service providers. During this project, data was prioritized according to the relative risk of deterioration of the physical storage media, potential duplication of storage of multi-client surveys with processing companies or other joint venture partners, and requirements for storage and management from government regulators.

Woodside has now been able to demonstrate predicted cost savings over tape storage, improved visibility of data management costs for operating assets, reduction of time and effort for exploration data management, and reduced risk of data loss and duplication.


Jess Kozman is a geophysicist working in the Subsurface Data and Information Management group at Woodside Energy Ltd. in Perth, where he is currently engaged in deploying a cloud based data ecosystem to support cognitive computing for geoscience and reservoir engineering and supporting the transition to new energy sources.

About the GSA

The Geological Society of Australia was established as a non-profit organisation in 1952 to promote, advance and support Earth sciences in Australia.

As a broadly based professional society that aims to represent all Earth Science disciplines, the GSA attracts a wide diversity of members working in a similarly broad range of industries.