‘P’ is for positioning

IOGP releases new P7/17 wellbore positioning data exchange format

The objective is simple: upstream operators and contractors need to drill their wells in precisely the right positions for reasons of safety, licence agreement, business objectives, accuracy and efficiency.  It is equally important that they are able to share data about these locations among themselves, with regulators and more widely with other sectors, such as fisheries and transport.  The science of geomatics deals with such vital data.

The process that enables this, however, is highly complex.  But that doesn’t faze IOGP’s Geomatics Committee, which is among the Association’s most active and productive.  The Committee’s latest publication is the P7/17 wellbore positioning data exchange format, together with an accompanying user guide.  The Committee recommends the use of this updated format for the reporting, storage and exchange of definitive wellbore survey records.  The new format supersedes the P7/2000 format.

Deviated wellbore terminology (from P7/17 User Guide)
Deviated wellbore terminology (from P7/17 User Guide)

Committee Chair Frederic Auger of Total points out that the P7 Task Force within the Committee did the work, the significance of which is apparent from the involvement of a wide range of other interested parties.  These included the directional survey contractor community, quality control experts and operators drawn from IOGP membership and beyond.   The Task Force also made sure that, in addition to being aligned with other IOGP ‘P’ formats, the new publication extends functionality to enable storage of raw sensor measurement data, tool error models and uncertainties. The main objective was to “provide a standardized way to permanently store final wellbore positioning data in a file to report to regulators and to facilitate exchange among operators and across applications,” Frederic says, adding that “The new format is not intended as protocol for real-time operational use.”

P7/17 comparison with P7/2000

The accompanying user guide provides a helpful starting point for understanding how to work with the new P7/17 format. It explains how the critical elements for wellbore surveying are structured in the format and what records contain defining variables. Example datasets enrich the explanations.

History of the ‘P’ formats

Dating back to the 1980s, ‘P’ formats have been used to record marine seismic positioning data, and since the year 2000, for well deviation data as well. Originally developed by UKOOA (now OGUK), the  UK offshore upstream association, the ‘P’ formats are widely adopted by the industry. In 2006, IOGP’s Geomatics Committee took ownership of the formats as part of the Association’s commitment to technological leadership.

Walter Jardine, past Geomatics Committee chair, elaborates on the key enhancements in the revised ‘P’ formats. “Version 1.0 of the P1/11, P2/11 and P6/11 formats, released in 2012, put all IOGP formats under a ‘common header’. The formats include a computer readable, rigorous definition of Coordinate Reference Systems that supports the fundamental objective of ensuring the geodetic integrity of position data. The new P7/17 format also utilises the common header structure.”

Collaboration and innovation

“Publication of the new P Format is the culmination of a long and challenging process”, Frederic says. “The two chairs of the Task Force, Bert Kampes of Shell and Mark Michell of BHP , deserve our thanks for their work, achieved through a spirit of collaboration and an innovative approach throughout. I would like to also recognise Tony Blackburn who has been instrumental in the development of the new data format and its alignment with the existing ‘P’ formats ”.

Bert, in turn, expresses his excitement over the publication of the new format and user guide and adds his gratitude for contributions, in terms of time and expertise, from many individuals drawn from companies in the operator, service and vendor sectors. “It was a real team effort”, he says.

Both the P7/17 format description and its user guide are freely available from the IOGP Publications library.

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