Column: Call for More Upstream Open-source Computing

RED President Steve Hendrickson discusses the need for better and more widely available open-source software in the upstream industry.


A few years ago, I needed to create maps for an engineering project I was consulting on and started looking for software to assist me. At the time, I was a one-man consultancy and so the cost was a concern, especially since I rarely needed GIS software. I found the open-source product QGIS, however, and was surprised how well it worked and how (relatively) easy it was to learn. Certainly, there was a learning curve, but I was able to accomplish my tasks quickly.

As time passed, I and members of my team continued to use QGIS, and I’ve come to realize just how powerful it is due to the extensive set of scripts and other add-ons that have been written. Like the QGIS product itself, these tools are open-source and free.

Recently, I’ve started working with R to solve some data analytics problems that we historically would have approached using some combination of spreadsheets, databases and manual editing, or perhaps we wouldn’t have even tried since the math was so advanced. Again, I’m seeing the power of an open-source platform for which a community of users is actively creating free, but highly advanced, tools.

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