Although knowledge is predicted to surpass oil and gas reserves as the most important asset in 21st century oil and service companies, engineers remain cynical about the benefits of current knowledge management initiatives. This paper discusses problems such as the strong bias of existing knowledge management systems in favour of document searching and focuses on how overlooked areas can be addressed. Results of a collaborative project with 5 major oil companies aimed at overcoming some important limitations of current knowledge systems are discussed. A key feature of the initiative is software to integrate knowledge capture and reuse into normal work processes. The software uses well data and stored drilling experiences, including problems and solutions, from a global drilling and completions database provided by the member oil companies. Experiences with deployment of this software into oil companies will be covered as well as the results of research projects on automated learning and case based reasoning to enhance the company knowledge base for optimal design of new wells. The study of overall well quality has also been included in the project. By defining well quality metrics and then examining them collectively, we can better assess drilling performance in a given field, and ascertain if the company is using its knowledge to improve new well production and cut costs.

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