The Internet can serve as an information
super-pipeline for the petroleum industry, and the Kansas Geological
Survey is one more group trying to keep the data flowing.
As the repository for all natural resource data in
the state, the KGS launched a major effort in 1996 to make its traditional
products available online in the form of the Digital Petroleum Atlas
(DPA), according to Tim Carr, chief of petroleum research for the
"The idea was that instead of producing coffee table-type
books ... to do it online and try to keep it current," Carr said.
Keeping it current may be the biggest benefit of
online data versus paper publishing, he said.
The atlas began with static pages -- much like traditional
publications -- displayed as Web pages. The system has evolved,
he said, and the static displays are being replaced by dynamic pages
linked to relational databases.
"The information is automatically updated on the
fly," Carr said.
Lots of Data -- Fast
The atlas began with a $250,000 grant from the U.S.
Department of Energy. The grant has been renewed and is used mainly
for salaries and outreach -- travel to meetings and presentations
-- according to Dana Adkins-Heljeson.
Adkins-Heljeson handles the Web work and has co-authored
a paper on the project with Carr that will be presented at the AAPG
annual meeting in Denver this year.
Geologist Paul Gerlach performs the mapping and log
analysis. The Kansas Department of Revenue collects the information
and the KGS brings that data into its own database, Carr said.
The result? "We think we have the most accurate list
of wells in the state," Carr said.
Data finds its way into the database more quickly,
"Scanning of source data was done by Paul originally,
then me, and now is often done by students funded on the grant,"
"Linking up a new set of geologic maps takes a day
or two now," Adkins-Heljeson said. "Since the interactive well maps
are done with our Oracle database and not by hand, that work takes
a day instead of one to two weeks as it used to.
"Assembling the data takes the longest (in terms
of Web production)," he continued. "However, because the DPA is
now integrated with our main oil and gas well database, work done
on a well or field used in the DPA by people working on different
projects will improve our product. We don't have to flag a digital
log file as being needed for the DPA.
"If it's been donated for any reason, it will be
connected up automatically. Completion forms scanned for other projects
don't have to be re-scanned for the DPA," he said.
"One of the fields recently added was mapped by a
student at Kansas State University (Jonathan Lange) as part of his
"We explained the kinds of maps we needed, and he
worked on scanning, tops picking (as needed) and mapping, supervised
by Tim Carr. It's a very distributed system, with Paul working out
of Wichita, the student at K-State and Tim and I here in Lawrence,"
Coming This Summer ...
DPA crew members are "hitting our stride" and adding
tools to help users with the data, Carr said.
"We're taking it a little further with Java programs
that can handle plots and well logs -- they're now in prototype,"
Carr said. "The user defines how the display looks."
In the next stage, "You go out and get the logs and
tops to connect ... The page wouldn't exist until you request it,"
The new tools should be online this summer, he said.
Perhaps most importantly, the DPA is proving its
value, Carr said. The site tallies monthly online visits in the
"hundreds of thousands."
Exploration companies use the atlas, as do data brokers
who resell value-added products based on DPA data.
Carr believes the DPA is blazing a trail for providing
public domain information.
"We (the KGS) were in a unique position ... with
a lot of flat digital data collected for many years, plus the expertise
needed for the project," he said. "It was a team effort to change
the way we do business."
Carr sees the DPA as a valuable addition to traditional
publications and commercial products.
"We provide limited search capabilities ... but someone
always wants something different."
He said the atlas is unlikely ever to threaten high-end
commercial interpretation programs.
Carr said the next atlas project is to add 22,000
wells in the Hugoton Field in southwestern Kansas -- "essentially
a reservoir study."
"Our role is to attract business to Kansas," he said.
"The DPA is doing that by making up-to-date information available
for quick, informed decisions.
"People don't have time to rummage around in our