Microcomputer technology for working geologists and reservoir engineers is being deployed in the district production offices of Sun Exploration and Production Company. Two workstations have been placed in each of the ten districts, and are linked to the Dallas mainframes and supercomputer via existing communications. These workstations are being used by novice and expert users, and are based around the IBM PS/2 Model 80 microcomputer. Differences in peripherals and software depend upon whether the primary user is a geologist or a reservoir engineer.

The basic strategy is to provide a computing environment for the technical professional "casual" user, with the emphasis on interactive use of "fingertip" computing power to mechanize current operational activities. Wherever possible, interactive rapid on-screen response is provided so that the technical professional can test sensitivities and determine the consequences of actions and changes in parameters. The expected result of this computing environment is a) higher quality professional output, b) improved technical capability, and c) increased productivity. It is stressed throughout that evaluation of the input, and the interpretations and resultant decisions are the responsibility of the technical professional.

The workstation is a modest cost, self-contained computing environment readily available to the technical professional, with mainframe access to data and supercomputer access for computations requiring that capability. The configurations include digitizers, plotters, and storage devices, along with a fully configured CPU.

Commercially available software is provided with each workstation, and it is intended to use "mass market" software in this computing environment to the greatest extent possible. Only a minimum amount of internal software was developed, primarily to integrate the packages and the utilities. All workstations include contouring and volumetrics software. For the Reservoir Engineer's workstation, software for conducting reservoir simulation problems on a supercomputer was also provided.

While the overall program has spanned three years, pilot testing of the workstation and software began in earnest in 1986. As experience was gained, certain hardware and software decisions were made, and field testing was begun in early 1987. The resultant configuration was determined and frozen, and deployment of the workstations in the district offices was begun in November 1987. Before distribution, a one week initial training program on the actual system was held for about 40 engineers and geologists. Response from the technical professionals, including many novice users, has been favorable. The program will be evaluated at year-end and further recommendations will be made.

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