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Since the company’s humble beginning in 1997 to being acquired by Getech Group in 2016, Exprodat grew from a small size data management company to become a center of excellence for GIS, being an Esri gold level partner for 12 years and counting. Furthermore, in 2019, the company bagged the ‘ArcGIS Online Specialty’ and ‘Release Ready Specialty’ awards proving its expertise and capabilities in understanding, adopting, and promoting the latest versions of Esri’s technology.
In an interview with CIO Applications, Chris Jepps, COO at Exprodat, states, “we provide a unique blend of services around geospatial technology, the ArcGIS platform, domain-specific knowledge, training, desktop GIS add-ons and deep experience in how Esri technology can be used within upstream oil and gas exploration.” He throws light on how Exprodat is using its technology in conjunction with the ArcGIS platform to tackle challenges in the energy business and in exploration and production processes.
What is the methodology that you follow while helping your clients address their challenges?
We follow a prescriptive methodology where we use a structured set of questionnaires to gain insights from clients. From running a surface-level investigation via online surveys to gaining in-depth knowledge through on-site interviews, we are able to understand our customers’ requirements and guide their geospatial strategy. We can benchmark these same clients against their peer companies to provide insight into how mature their adoption of geospatial technology is, and what value they extract from it.
For example, on assessing a large oil and gas company in the Middle East, we found that the company was falling behind its industry peers and needed help with the basics, including requiring effective GIS systems and improved spatial data management. We were able to assess the same company 5 years later and could measure the progress that the company had achieved after the initial project. Based on our recommendations, their operational efficiency and decision-making capabilities had improved significantly through the improved use of GIS. We were only able to achieve this with them by combining our wealth of industry expertise with a deep technical understanding of the Esri ArcGIS suite.
How do you enable your clients to leverage the ArcGIS Platform? What is the added value that you bring to the table?
Our customers range from smaller independent energy companies to big household names, and, regardless of their size, they all develop from a basic usage pattern of visualizing geographical data and mapping.
We provide a unique blend of services around geospatial technology, ArcGIS platform, market domain-specific training classes, desktop GIS add-ons platforms, and how to use that technology can be used within upstream oil and gas exploration
Our customers use the ArcGIS platform with our custom-built add-ons and different kind of apps that allow users to complete common workflows that are essential to efficient operations. We use the ArcGIS platform to help our customers in multiple scenarios, including advanced modelling, field-based workflows, real time data and stakeholder/community engagement – and using the ArcGIS platform the results can be made available to any device.
As part of this, our in-house software has expanded significantly, for example in its statistical analytics capabilities for conducting predictive analysis. The software enables users to run Monte Carlo simulations in order to better understand uncertainty in the analysis results. As some of our customer users are not desktop GIS savvy, we complement the desktop GIS work by publishing geospatial data as web-apps, story maps and dashboards – these really help share the high value geospatial information with the rest of an organisation’s users.
Can you highlight a case study where a client approached you with a set of challenges and how you helped them get the desired outcome?
A large oil and gas company in the US approached us about our commercial software that helps petroleum operators working in shale oil & gas optimize their well patterns in order to maximize their production while minimizing their surface footprint. Using our software - an add-on to ArcGIS Desktop – the company was able to reduce its well planning cycle from several months to just a few weeks. This increased process efficiency, achieved significant cost savings and reduced operational cycle-times.
The same company received some unexpected benefits: our software enabled it to manage its well modelling in a tiered approach whereby they ran different iterations based on various land access scenarios. This enabled the company to make significant savings on future well pad redesign costs that were many times the investment they had made in the underlying geospatial technology.
On the geospatial services side, over a decade ago, a joint venture of multi-national oil & gas companies operating in Europe approached us to help them as their current geospatial service provider was not able to meet their demands. We began managing their GIS system remotely, and as the ArcGIS platform technology evolved, were able to evolve and scale the system to meet their needs - for example in moving from a remote-hosted system to on-premise. With time, and as our professional relationship grew, they outsourced their entire GIS environment to us.
What does the roadmap of the company look like?
As an Esri gold partner we always keep abreast of Esri’s latest technology, and right now the intersection of geospatial with AI and machine learning are creating massive opportunities. Another area we are monitoring closely is the business intelligence space – especially as Esri technology is increasingly able to compete with services and applications like Power BI from Microsoft and many others in the BI space.
To align with our customers’ need, we continue to deliver both cloud-based and desktop GIS solutions, but we are seeing a definite move towards more large-scale cloud-based geospatial deployments. Internally, we have a lot of active R&D projects around machine learning and AI, and we are also doing a lot with drones, sensors and real-time GIS applications.
As the world strives toward using sustainable sources of energy, one of the biggest changes facing the petroleum industry is the energy transition, and we increasingly see our existing customers within oil and gas taking us into new areas and new kinds of projects.
Meanwhile, our transferrable geospatial skills allow us to break into sectors outside of our core oil and gas market. As a result, in terms of the markets and industries we serve, we continue to diversify both within the wider natural resources market and the energy market.