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Merry Christmas from the team

We’re still here to support you during the festive season. Find out how to get in touch with Support.

Virtual Booth Assistance for Online Conventions

With URTEC 2020 just around the corner and the Summer NAPE 2020 coming up in August, time is of the essence to bring together your technical packages. As a consequence of COVID19, most trade shows and events planned during 2020-21 will be virtual, placing new demands on exhibitors and providing a new experience for visitors.

The maps, videos, and Powerpoint presentations that you use to promote your drilling opportunities, land sales, and JV partner prospectus will need to be particularly compelling to engage a visit in cluttered and busy convention web sites. They will also need to be meaningful, detailed, and technically accountable as they will be available for close scrutiny over a long period of time.

To help you present your company, market your opportunities, and attract the most attention of event visitors, Petrosys have partnered with U3 Explore, Actus Veritas Geoscience, PetroCubic, and code t3 to offer a unique service to ensure your maps and technical packages help you deliver on business objectives.

‍Petrosys are making our Petrosys PRO subsurface mapping software available as Software as a Service (SaaS) on the PetroCubic platform. Actus Veritas Geoscience specialists are available to assist clients with the preparation of a complete digital package that will be ready for upload to the virtual booths of the trade shows or marketing events.

The U3 Explore Virtual Booth Assistant is available on a no-obligation, fixed price basis to deliver a memorable and engaging virtual booth experience. Collateral created for your virtual presence may include layered and geo-referenced PDF maps, informative PowerPoint presentations, and video/audio products.

To find out more about this service, visit U3 Explore or send an email to .

Dear Steve

Q. Is it possible to use a formula to add a segment in a bubble map?

A. Yes, it is possible!

When we released Petrosys PRO 2018.3 at the end of last year, we enhanced and added new features to the bubble map functionality. Among these, we now cater for many sources to be used as input data and complex filtering statement is now supported.

Another enhancement is how we deal with formulas when displaying bubble maps. Now when you go into the Bubble Maps or Pie Charts panel [1], you will notice a dedicated section in the middle of the panel to enter equations, as seen in the below screenshot.

[1] You can access this panel in Mapping from Display > Bubble Map

To enter a formula, click on the ‘+’ icon in the lower-right of this section and proceed to enter the relevant equation and assign a name. Note that by clicking on the ‘+’ icon of this panel you will have access to all the attributes defined for the input data, which you can use as input to create your formula.

Once you have entered the formula and clicked Ok. The formula will be added to the list and simultaneously as a segment in the lower section of the panel (Segments tab).

At this stage, all is left to do to display the bubble map is to set the proper annotation and scaling parameters from the relevant tabs. Don’t forget to set the right style for the bubbles.

If additional information is required regarding how to create bubble maps or pie charts, please contact us at

For more information about the new features in the bubble map tool added in the Petrosys PRO 2018.3 release, check the release notes.

Maps for Marketing

When a map is to be used as the backdrop to marketing material, such as the cover of an annual report or the canvas of a convention poster; or when a key point on a map is to be the focal point of an insert in a graphical montage such as in a PowerPoint pitch; you may want to reach for the services of a graphics designer to add some graphical punch to highlight your message.

Having a graphics designer redraw contours and well locations – let alone seismic lines or surfaces – is a time-consuming process that has a high risk of publishing a highly magnified version of a mistyped value, the wrong well status, or a misplaced fault edge. Providing them with cartographically correct Petrosys PRO map layers makes their life easier and gives you more confidence in the accuracy of the final result.

At Petrosys we have a strong history of exporting maps into publishing tools for use in brochures, posters, and as backdrops to our trade show booths. Many of the improvements that have been made to the display styles and rendering functionality in Petrosys PRO have been inspired by these often very demanding and occasionally left of center requirements.

The original Petrosys PRO map, published to PDF, contains a combination of layers that is more complex than you’d normally try to publish as a stand alone map.

The introduction of layered PDF’s provided a dramatic improvement in your ability to present a graphics designer with a consistent high-resolution source from which they can extract individual layers of content into the creative tool of their choice.

When you use File/Export-PDF, just remember to group and name the layers in a logical manner; to set the paper size to the map size; and to set the DPI to a high value such as 150, 300 or 600. The DPI is the number of pixels that will be used for each inch of output on the paper size of your map, so if you’ve picked 150 and your map is 20” across your graphics designer will be getting 3,000 pixels across the map area. In general, you should provide at least 2,000 pixels across for most applications, and your designer will be really happy if you can give them 5,000 pixels or more if they are creating some large graphic. The tradeoff is that PDF creation will slow down, and the output files will get bigger.

The DPI is extremely important for satellite imagery and very important for grid color fill displays. There are additional options in the associated Display/- control panels of the map that impact the final resolution of published color fill grids and satellite images.

The quality of text in PDF’s will usually be excellent, provided that you aren’t stuck in the dark ages of Simplex fonts. However, you should avoid exotic fonts as these can have unexpected character substitutions if your designer’s toolbox does not include them.

The quality of lines, such as contours and boundaries, will be superbly smooth irrespective of the DPI used for a PDF. If you run into problems with the thickness of the lines in your graphics machine, then you may want to try switching the line width in the display option between ‘Scaled’ and ‘Absolute’ modes. The ‘Absolute’ mode will try to match a specific line width more accurately in publishing formats such as PDF.

The layers of the map are imported as individual layers into Photoshop, where creative application of transparency separates them across the page whilst also creating selected areas with little detail as backdrops for further content.

Next to PDF’s, raster images are now the most common form of graphics file used in graphic designing output using Petrosys PRO. The PNG format, which compresses images without creating shadowy artefacts, should be used. PNG’s are great for creation of output that is going to be at about the scaling of the original map view. However, all of the text and lines in a PNG have been down-sampled to the resolution (DPI) of the PNG file, so unlike in a PDF, zooming in to text and lines on PNG files will result in lower quality output.

A lot of users find our ‘Direct Output to PowerPoint’ a highly productive way of getting maps into graphics. When using this tool, just remember that the instant option under the menu bar only gives you an image at screen resolution. To get higher quality lines in PowerPoint, without going via an additional graphics file, use the File/Export-to-PowerPoint option and select one of the higher image resolutions. Your boss will appreciate the few extra keystrokes that deliver a much more impressive presentation.

Finally, Petrosys PRO can also deliver its graphics in vector file formats such as CGM. In the Oil and Gas industry CGM is primarily used as an intermediate graphics format for printing, and not all of its rich functionality is correctly supported by more general graphics design tools.

Finally, the graphics designer can add whatever additional content is required … in this case a prototype for our booth at the forthcoming AAPG in San Antonio. Hope to see you there!

We love to see Petrosys PRO maps being used in public and are keen on helping you achieve the best results when you do so. If this article has inspired you to aim for the next level in creative mapping feel free to contact our support team should you need help with the concepts outlined above – or if you have some suggestions for cool alternatives.

Frontier exploration: The importance of maps in project start-up

At the end of last year I attended Africa Oil Week where Madagascar were due to announce a new licensing round. 2018 was quite a busy year for licensing in Africa where many countries are still largely under-explored. Frontier exploration virtually stopped during the downturn, but it is back on the agenda as companies look to boost reserves.

Frontier exploration projects often start with a data gathering phase, with companies reporting that this typically takes up around a third of the total project time. Maps are a great way to get a spatial understanding of available data.

Common data sources might include:

  • A corporate geoscience database or an interpretation project with pre-loaded data
  • GIS and cultural information from a range of providers
  • Legacy data including flat files and images

A few observations:

  1. Retain a healthy degree of scepticism about all your data

While data QA has vastly improved over the years, never assume that everything in your database is correct. As an example, I came across a suite of QC’d well logs some years ago where I had a sense of déjà vu. On further investigation, it turned out there was a 600m section of logs which was exactly the same as the 600m above it! It looked like the loggers had lost a lot of data and literally copied and pasted a section. When the well was drilled, the bogus section was much shallower than the target formation, so no-one had noticed or cared. However, for the study we were working on it was of interest and we had to discount this well completely. The vast majority of data in your databases will be reliable, but just keep in mind that something may not be.

  1. Be cautious about the accuracy of georeferenced and digitised data

Historic maps can be a great source of information helping to reduce data acquisition costs and giving an early insight into the geology of new acreage. Typically, they’ll be scanned, georeferenced and contours, faults etc. will be digitised. Aside from digitising tolerance errors, consider whether the original map had full information about its coordinate reference system. If not, then the coordinate system assigned is a best guess.

A great source of coordinate system definitions is the EPSG database which was created and is maintained by a group of oil industry surveyors. It’s available online through the EPSG Geodetic Parameter Registry (Fig 1, below) which includes several search tools including the ability to search by area. This option will return a list of coordinate systems that is appropriate for the selected region. If you’re unsure about coordinate systems, and don’t have access to a surveyor or geodesist, this is a good starting point.

Figure 1: The EPSG Parameter Registry – an invaluable free on-line resource for coordinate system information

Even without a full coordinate system, there may be fragments of coordinate system related meta-data that can help to eliminate some of the options. Be particularly careful with geodetic datums (strictly speaking “geographic coordinate systems”) as getting this wrong can move data by hundreds of metres.

Digitised data from georeferenced maps can save a lot of time and money, but you do need to consider potential for error. For basin level exploration, this may be acceptable, however it wouldn’t be a good idea to plan a well near a digitised fault. If possible, record meta-data and a quality metric (figure 2) with any data digitised from legacy maps. If you don’t, then it may become impossible for other to distinguish between it and accurate, interpreted data which could lead to very expensive mistakes in future.

Figure 2: Metadata and quality metrics give data longevity and add value


  1. Don’t ignore any data and map it directly from source

When building your map, try and find an application that accesses data directly from source (figure 3), particularly if coordinate conversion is required. Each time data is coordinate converted, a small error is introduced. An export, convert, import workflow increases the chances of mistakes, as well as resulting in duplication. Keeping data in its source coordinate system and dynamically converting it to the preferred map coordinate system will help keep your data accurate and give you confidence in your frontier exploration maps.

Figure 3: Access data directly and keep the original coordinate system if possible

If you come across data in a difficult format, don’t just ignore it. There are a range of mapping tools which handle a wide range of formats and might just offer an easy solution. You never know if it will reveal an important insight.

In summary, frontier mapping can be great fun and it requires detective work and leaves a lot of leeway for interpretation. Like a good detective, look for as many clues as possible, don’t ignore any evidence, be critical of the information you reveal, and be open minded. This will give you the best chance of building a credible data-set and making sound decisions going forward.

Subsurface Mapping – Exploration & Production Maps

Subsurface Mapping – What are the differences between exploration and production maps?


What are the key differences in the data?

When I was taught subsurface mapping techniques at university, the focus was all on interpretation. We did challenges and ran through various examples to show that there is never one correct answer when mapping the subsurface. The geoscientist must use all their knowledge and skill to build up a conceptual model of the structure or stratigraphy of the subsurface and interpret what occurs between the few, sparse, valuable datapoints available. This is very much biased towards an exploration workflow. When I started working with production teams to discuss their software needs in terms of mapping, it was clear that value propositions which resonate well with exploration teams, really don’t appeal to production teams. For example, Petrosys PRO tools to control the gridding process manually (e.g. Sampled Data Editor) or editing tools to change the structure manually (i.e. the Spatial Editor), were not of interest. Below, I’ve put a short list of what I see as being the priorities for subsurface mapping in production teams. Have I missed any? Or do you disagree that there should be a difference between exploration and production subsurface mapping techniques?

Does it matter?

Before looking at what the differences are, it would make sense to ask why we are interested. After all, if there’s no industry requirement to make production maps then the differences are not really relevant in practice. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. If anything, the opposite is the case, where the big drive at the moment is to maximise recovery through production, rather than discover more hydrocarbons through exploration. For example, Figure 1 shows the number of exploration wells drilled in the North Sea. It’s fairly clear that the number of exploration wells is dwindling.

Figure 1 from

In contrast, the number of production wells is increasing (see Figure 2). The point of this article is not to review these trends in any detail but I think at the very least it’s acceptable to say that production is currently very important in the industry, so presenting accurate views of production data on maps is equally critical.

Figure 2 from

What are the key differences in techniques?

The main differences I tend to see are that the focus is all on the wells (as opposed to seismic or other data), there is a need for automation due to the volume and changing nature of the data, and similarly, because the data are always changing, the way the map connects to the data is important.

It’s all about wells

In exploration mapping, a typical subsurface map will show input data (such as GIS data, well data, seismic navigation etc.). However, in production mapping the focus is the wells (although 4D seismic can be important). For example:

  • Wells propagating zones
    • As is shown in Figure 3, in production mapping, a key requirement is to show where a well path enters, drills through and then leaves a particular zone. With better drilling and geosteering capabilities, wells can track along a zone laterally for long distances. This needs to be shown clearly and an excellent way of presenting this information is through maps in Petrosys PRO.
  • Showing well Completions data
    • The location of perforations, casing, tubing etc. are not important in exploration. In exploration mapping, these completion data are not relevant as the aim is to interpret and better understand where hydrocarbons may be trapped. In production mapping, you’ve already discovered where the hydrocarbons are trapped and the aim now is to present your intentions for recovery.
  • Structure takes a back seat
    • This was perhaps one of the most surprising aspects to me as I started to look at examples of production maps. Although the structure of a trap does tend to be shown, it’s often made bland or faded into the background in such a way that your eyes are not immediately drawn to it. Again, the most important feature is the well information. What the structure looks like is kind of irrelevant by this stage (as far as presenting on maps at least) as we know it exists and we know it has trapped hydrocarbons.

Figure 3 – Typical production map, showing wells propagating through producing zones and completion data (perforations) in the foreground with a faded (and rather poor) structure map in the background.


  • Automation is great for efficiency but in exploration, it has to be used with caution. With limited data control points, there are many ways to contour a dataset. Automation, without proper QC stages, will lead to errors. A lot of exploration data come from adhoc or paper sources as well, for example journal articles or reports which allow the geoscientist to assimilate and form better interpretations. However, by the production phase, data are abundant. Combined with data in regular formats, constantly changing, means that automation is the only feasible way to update maps. Petrosys PRO’s surface modelling module allows for this using its ‘looping over workflow’ functionality (there’s a n example of this in the Petrosys Overview video –


  • A similar theme is connections to other data sources. Since exploration data tend to be fairly static and geoscientific in nature, the sources are usually predictable. However, production data can often come from engineering sources. In addition, because of the transient nature of the data, production maps must point to real-time data to be updatable and useful. At Petrosys we invest heavily in our connections and Petrosys PRO has real-time connections to a variety of 3rd party software.


I feel confident saying that exploration mapping and production mapping require different tools and thought processes. Exploration mapping tends to involve sparse, static data with the key skills being explaining what is happening between the data points. In contrast, production mapping tends to involve lots of wells, which are continually being drilled with the key skill being how you show the map reader where each well is positioned in 3D space and what type of completions have been used. Petrosys PRO can do most of these but we are continually on the lookout for opportunities to improve the tools in our software and are currently in the process of implanting some production mapping-specific changes for PRO 2019.1 release.

What do you think? Are the differences listed here the main ones or are there others? Or do you disagree with this list? It would be great to hear what the term ‘production mapping’ means to you.

Publish Volumetrics Output to Polygon Shapefiles

Publishing reserves maps that show the spatial distribution of expected hydrocarbons across a region has become increasingly important, both in Petrosys maps and as a component of GIS portals. It is particularly valuable in the planning of the horizontal development of unconventional plays.

To make it easier to map the spatial distribution of reserves and to get Petrosys PRO volumetrics data into the GIS world, from Petrosys PRO 2018.1 volumetrics output can now be automatically added into shapefiles representing the polygons into which the volumetrics had been split.

The option is available by specifying polygon and centroid shapefile names in the ‘Reports’ tab of the volumetrics task.

The shapefiles can then be displayed with annotation and thematic coloring in the Display/GIS option, or be passed on to other applications. Attributes include labels for fluid type and area and volume units, so that a comprehensive range of annotations is possible.

Petrosys PRO packaging means that all Petrosys users can now access the volumetrics tool. In conjunction with the shapefile volumetrics output, reserves mapping workflows can be significantly faster allowing more up to date information to be used with much less map generation effort.

Postcards from Papua New Guinea

Last October I had the opportunity to deliver training to a young group of talented geoscientists from some of the operators and regulatory body in Port Moresby. We covered and discussed basic and advanced geological and geophysical workflows and how Petrosys can help to improve their daily work. I expect to keep assisting this group of geoscientists in future occasions to further improve and streamline their workflows as we roll out new functionalities and enhance existing ones in Petrosys PRO.

Regarding the trip, it was my first time in Port Moresby. The city was busting in activity as last preparations were made for the APEC meeting that took place in November, a major event in the country. Thanks to one of the trainees, just before my flight back, I was taken for a short ride around the city and got the opportunity to make a short visit to the recently renovated Papua New Guinea National Museum. Even though it was a short visit, I got a glimpse of the huge and rich cultural diversity across the many communities that are part of the country. The museum contains pieces of the 19 provinces. Each one of them very distinctive in terms of culture, languages and traditions. Below a picture showing one of the galleries of the museum and a model of a double hull canoe used in trade voyages by the Motuan people.

It was indeed a great experience to being able to train such a talented group of local geoscientists. Hopefully the training will assist them not only in further developing the existing projects, but also in the exploration process of the new projects that are starting to take shape in the region.

To finish this post, a panoramic view of Port Moresby Airport taken from the hotel.


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