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Hart Energy E&P

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With upstream project data moving into the digital sphere, engineers need to be able to keep everything organized. Since most projects have multiple different services at once, keeping track of all the data coming from the services can throw an operation into disorder. Without the data located in a common space and organized, engineers spend time chasing after the data they need, wasting time that could be spent working on important projects.

Software company Datagration Solutions and its PetroVisor platform unifies disparate data sources in one place through the unified data model, giving it a unique competitive edge. While other software companies do pieces of that, Datagration does it all.

The PetroVisor platform was originally invented by Michael Stundner, founder of software company myr:conn solutions, and Datagration was created through the acquisition of myr:conn in 2020. Between now and the acquisition, the company has grown from 14 employees to over 50, with customers in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.

“We’ve come a long way in the past two years,” Ike Epley, vice chairman of Datagration, told Hart Energy. “The original [PetroVisor] product was really a consulting product, and we’ve spent the last two years building that into the commercial software product that we have today.”

Epley expanded on the capabilities of the PetroVisor platform, including its benefits in the upstream oil and gas sector, during an exclusive Q&A with Hart Energy.

Hart Energy: What is the PetroVisor platform, and how does it benefit your clients in the upstream oil and gas industry?

Epley: The PetroVisor platform, the idea of the platform, was to be able to integrate lots of different disparate data systems and data points to pull it into a software, into a platform, and then we could run really detailed algorithms based on that data. In the E&P business, operators have many places where they keep data, whether it’s areas, databases, it’s their financials, it’s engineering software, it’s all kinds of different products that they use to run their business. The difficulty that there always has been, is how do you get the right data out of all of these disparate places and put it together. How it’s done today is via Excel spreadsheets and people chasing data.

Ike Epley, Datagration
Ike Epley, vice chairman, Datagration Solutions (Source: Datagration)

What Michael built was an engine called the PetroVisor platform, which very quickly integrates into all these different disparate data sources, allowing the right data to be pulled out. All of the data remains in its place, but we take a copy of that and then we’re able to build algorithms to do various things, whether it’s production enhancement, completion optimization, artificial lift optimization, EOR, various applications that run on top of the platform that allow engineers to really do their job of engineering instead of chasing data. Most engineers spend 60% to 70% of their time chasing data versus actually doing their engineering work.

We’re able to pull all of that data into a unified data model – that’s the customer’s data model – and then we’re able to allow really deep analytics using machine learning, artificial intelligence, as well as physics-based modeling to do different things, to enhance and to optimize their business. It’s a game-changing technology; a lot of customers that we show demos to, one of the great questions we usually get is, ‘How is this possible? Where have you been? Why haven’t I seen this before because this is exactly what the industry is looking for.’ And our answer is that it was in Europe and the Middle East and really hadn't been in the U.S. until we acquired the business in 2020, and then it's taken us 18 months and a lot of dedication and hard work of pulling all of these algorithms and workflows that Michael developed, pulling it in to build a commercial software product, which we have today. And again, we have a terrific technical team as well as implementation team and our management team that we pull together has been spectacular.

Hart Energy: How does the technology help companies maximize revenue?

Epley: One of the products or one of the offerings that we have is around work over candidate selection, as well as production enhancement. So how do you get as much out of the reservoir as economically as possible? That was really one of the first tasks as Michael developed his platform.

For the instance of OMV specifically it's work over candidate selection. They're a national oil company in Europe. They had 20,000 wells; 10,000 wells were inactive. They went to Michael with the request of how do they decide which wells to bring back online versus which wells to P&A, and how do they get more out of their system? One of our products is a work-over candidate selection, which will go in and rank the wells and give direction to the engineers of which wells need and should be worked over in what order they should for the best economic value. So, in that instance, we reduced the project timelines by 70% and increase their capex efficiently efficiency by 77%.

We've created about $185 million of income that wasn't there. They actually ended up reworking and pulling about 3,500 of those 10,000 wells back online that they were planning on shutting in because our system picked out those wells and really highlighted the ones that were available to get more hydrocarbons. So the scaling of the tools was built on that actual operation. As it relates to brownfield development, you really can use tools to go out, and the software will allow engineers to really process a lot more and do a lot more of the heavy lifting from an analysis standpoint to bring the opportunities to light, and it allows companies to be more productive.

Hart Energy: How does the platform help reduce risks onsite?

Epley: From a safety standpoint, we highlight where there are safety issues. One of the byproducts of the platform, which is one of our newest offerings is an ESG application that sits on the platform. It starts from the data level at the beginning versus trying to figure out what the emissions are or what the flaring is at the end. We start from the data from the ground up. And we're very excited about that. We've had a lot of take up in that opportunity and in that product. And we see a lot of opportunity for that whole get space. I think we're somewhat ahead of the curve because we start at the data that we're already gathering. The system in place captures all the data, and we can then really look at the outcomes and change behaviors. We're really excited about our ESG offering.

Hart Energy: Who are your competitors? What differentiates Datagration from them?

Epley: We really don't have a true competitor. As far as the unified data model is concerned, there are a lot of companies that say that they can do what we do. However, as we talk to clients, many over the last nine months, we always ask a question: ‘Who else out there are you talking to? Who else out there, have you ever seen anything like this in the answer general?’ And the general answer is emphatically, ‘No, there is nobody else out there.’ Sometimes it's easier to compete if you actually have a competitor, where we compete against really noise in the marketplace around and distraction in the marketplace. Nobody has that we know of has taken the steps that, that we have in the unified data model.

It's exciting. It's also, you know, challenging because we have to prove that we can do what we say we're going to do. And most customers, when we talk to them their initial thought is, "There's no possible way you can do everything you're telling me that you can do," and then we show them. We've done successful proof of value. We've got successful implementations and we're, and we're actually delivering. So as word gets out I think that we're going to continue to be on the upswing and truly delivering a disruptive technology that to the industry. Our implementations are seamless, are relatively quick. And again, it's more trying to make believers out of disbelievers because this is a complex task, and we're able to do it using the platform, which is very unique.

I think lots of people have tried to get into it. I know lots of people have tried to get into it. No one has truly been successful yet in being able to do this as seamlessly as Michael has figured out. So the platform itself, it's disruptive. I think as we gain market share, which is happening, people [will] continue to try to mimic or to try to do what we can do. And I think that this is game-changing and the companies that embrace this technology earlier are going to be the winners in the long run. We've had tremendous support from Quantum, one of our private equity investors, and EIV capital. So we're well-funded and we've got tremendous support from the private equity industry. We're overnight successes, but it's taken us 12 years to get here.

Hart Energy: Looking forward, what do you see for the future of the company and for the technology?

Epley: We're going to continue to grow the business. I think that, as you know, we're going to continue develop, we have a really deep technical team with Kenton Gray, our CTO, and Michael Stundner, the inventor of the PetroVisor platform and their teams are topnotch and continuing to develop. We have a great technical team that's going to continue to develop and enhance what we have and add new products. The whole ESG product offering, we're selling it only on its own. And I think that is going to take us out of oil and gas.

And it's universal really with everyone concerned about the environment and climate change. So we're going to continue to sell that product outside of energy as well. The world's our oyster, and the technology is not limited to oil and gas. Other industries have similar issues where they have data coming in from tons of different disparate places to help them make decisions. We're able to use the platform to put it all into one place. So we're connecting actual operating and engineering tools with financials which is very unique. And you can really run your businesses much more efficiently and allow your highly paid technical people to really do what they're paid to do versus chasing data and pulling it into spreadsheets and trying to operate from that standpoint.