In the Shell Group, we have developed a state-of-the-art data management system for the storage of resource (field, reservoir, etc.) related data. It iscalled RISRES (Reservoir Information System - REServoir module). First released in 1993, it is currently in operational use in eight Shell Group operating companies around the globe. This article describes the specification and construction process, as well as various aspects of the system which make it a powerful resource data management system.


The ability to store, retrieve and share data relating to oil and gas reservoirs is critical to their efficient management. Inordinate amounts of time are often spent collecting, verifying, storing, sharing, re-collecting and re-verifying data for the purposes of studies, analyses and reports.

RISRES is a state-of-the-art resource data management system which was developed to meet this challenge by addressing a set of business requirements described below. Features which make it state-of-the-art include:

  • extensibility to store any data

  • unambiguous versioning and time-stamping

  • flexible definition of subsurface and reporting structures

  • ability to store data in any form from numbers to document files

  • auditing and security features

  • transparent interfacing to applications.

These features, and others which position RISRES as a general resource data management system both inside and outside the Shell Group, are discussed in some detail below.

Although it clearly satisfied the stated business requirements, introduction of RISRES to the majority of the Shell Group led to considerable initial resistance in the user community. These experiences are discussed, and the resulting set of data-organization and interfacing concepts, in particular close integration with Shell Group petroleum engineering applications, are also described.

Business requirements

The data explosion has resulted in the need to handle ever-increasing quantities of data for life-cycle management of petroleum resources. In the late 1980s it was observed that just the gathering and validation of data for reservoir-related studies occupied a significant fraction of each study'sresources, and that data gathering or analysis would often have to be repeated because previous study data and results would get "lost".

One area of particular concern at this time was resource volumes. Companies in the Shell Group were working with a combination of legacy systems and spreadsheets. The "old technology" legacy systems were generally inflexible to the evolving requirements of resource classification and were often seen as a "black hole" into which data disappeared, never to be seen again. These problems tended to be addressed by the use of mainframe and PC based spreadsheets, or other "quick fixes", to fill in the gaps not covered by the legacy systems, in some cases replacing them altogether. However, these spreadsheets and files were usually in disparate and undocumented locations on hard disks around the company offices, generally included little or no validation, and often contained hidden errors. In short, they represented an inappropriately fragile audit trail for the main assets of the companies: their hydrocarbon resource volumes.

The Shell Group lacked a database to hold gathered, validated and processed data, including hydrocarbon volumes, applicable at a resource level (i.e. fields, reservoirs, blocks, etc.). This led to the establishment of the Reservoir Information Systems (RIS) project in 1990.

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