When implementing an intelligent oilfield strategy it is tempting to focus on smart technology: advanced applications, novel instrumentation and collaborative environments. The data architecture is often overlooked. As deployments increase, it is important to review the industry data foundation and future direction.

WITSML version 1.4.1 is here and takes several bold steps to provide a robust, real-time foundation for data exchange and preservation. This version, the product of over two years of collaborative work by participants from oil companies, service companies and technology providers, is poised to be the keystone of the intelligent oilfield data architecture for wellsite communications.

WITSML 1.4.1 is simpler, more efficient and better defined than previous versions. It addresses several problems that hindered earlier versions by clearly specifying API behaviour and resolving ambiguities. It is also more prescriptive, which makes greater demands on software vendors but assures the one thing that matters most: interoperability. With a host of technical improvements, including new data objects, broader scope, data compression, query optimisation and change logs, version 1.4.1 will help increase the speed of information transfer and simplify use and deployment throughout the industry. To support WITSML adoption, Energistics is putting more emphasis on product certification and has initiated accredited training for developers and implementers.

WITSML uptake is growing rapidly. Server products enable efficient, secure storage with global access. The range of client products is evolving continuously and includes advanced well-logging, real-time geological and geophysical displays, automated reporting, interfaces to national data repositories and well delivery optimisation. There are now strong business drivers for making WITSML the preferred communications layer for all wellsite data. The authors will highlight the strengths of the new WITSML and its potential for increasing operational efficiency at the wellsite through improved data flow and analysis capabilities.

Saudi Aramco is a major user of WITSML technologies and v1.3.1.1 is the cornerstone of their Drilling Real-Time Data Hub (DRTDH). This paper includes a case study describing how Saudi Aramco is planning to use the enhanced capabilities of the newly released WITSML 1.4.1 to link together new drilling information with real-time data stored already in DRTDH to further increase drilling efficiency.

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