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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

WITSML - Evolution of Drilling Data

WITSML – An XML based language used in the management of Drilling Data, Along side with PRODML (Production Mark-up Language) and RESQML – Reservoir Mark-up language, form what could be termed the triad of Oil and Gas Data Management. WITSML, which stands for Well-Site Information Transfer Standard Mark-up Language is used to manage real-time, right time or historical drilling data. A couple of years back, some of the major oil operators and service companies came together to develop a unified mode of data communication. In one of the events I attended during an Oil and Gas conference in Aberdeen [1], I clearly observed the need for taking this path. You had various service companies (e.g. Halliburton, Schlumberger) within the premises of for instance a single operator (e.g. Exxon-Mobil). Prior to the emergence of unified structured information handling, the metering systems of various service companies differed a great deal.

In coming together to solve this problem, a new organization was birthed. It was called Energistics [2]. Energistics was saddled with the responsibility of articulating and developing solutions for Drilling, Production and Reservoir data management. An XML based data handling standard emerged. WITSML used for Drilling Data, PRODML used for production data and RESQML for reservoir data.

Most custodians of Object Oriented Programming Languages latched on to this developing and evolving technologies and began developing libraries to handle them. For JAVA, we have JWitsml [3], For .NET, we have nWitsml[4].

I used JAVA for my MSc project that was on Drilling Data with the help of Kongsberg [5] (a service company that gave me access to their WITSML server). Using the JWitsml 1.4 library that was available at that time (A look at the website in 5th June, 15 showed an improved 2.0 version now available). I was trying to solve the problem of making the complex XML based large document appear in a readable format even for non-technical personnel as seen in figure 1. A Trajectory WITSML document was processed into labels on the left and data on the right while graphs were also deployed for visualization.

Figure 1

The technologies used in Data management in the Oil and Gas industry is constantly evolving so much that most Operators and Services companies are currently incorporating Data Science as part of their Core-Business especially in the advent of “Big Data”.  It is important to get the data collection, manipulation, visualization, interpretation and analysis right because as we all know, data is critical in decision-making as seen in figure 2.

Figure 2


[1] Digital Energy Journal 

[3]  Java WITSML Library: 
[4]  .Net WITSML Library:
[5] Kongsberg