Magazine Article | September 1, 2001

A Deep Subject

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By storing well log images on a NAS appliance rather than on a DVD jukebox, M.J. Systems increased its efficiency in getting its product to the customer.

Integrated Solutions, September 2001

In 1971, M.J. Systems (Calgary, Alberta) introduced the oil and gas exploration industry to the concept of well logs on microfiche. Well logs identify and correlate underground rocks. They determine the mineralogy and physical properties of potential reservoir rocks and can tell geologists whether there is oil, gas, or water underground.

Over the past 30 years, M.J. Systems has provided well data to everyone from individual geologists to major exploration companies. The company has delivered over 200 million microfiche to more than 1,500 customers and set the industry standard for well log distribution. An average order of well logs is about 400 wells but can range from one well to entire states or provinces.

A well log is recorded by lowering a device called a sonde into a well bore on a cable. There are many kinds of measurements made by the sonde (e.g. electrical, acoustical, nuclear, thermal, dimensional, etc.). The data tells geologists about the well bore itself and about the rocks it passes through. The readings taken by the sonde are plotted against depth to produce a well log.

Logs have traditionally been recorded on long strips of paper (sometimes hundreds of feet long). These are frequently reduced onto microfiche for ease of storage. Modern logs are recorded and stored digitally - although even then analysts like to plot them on long strips of paper. As technology evolved, M.J. Systems started digitizing its well logs and providing them to its customers on CDs or DVDs. It also developed its own viewing software, called LogSleuth.

Disk Prices Fall, IT Interest Rises
M.J. Systems stored its entire library of data on DVD jukeboxes. Transferring the data from a jukebox to CD or DVD media was taking much too long, according to M.J. Systems' Mike Adams, but magnetic disk storage systems had always been too expensive until the past couple of years. So Adams looked for a faster way.

As the price of hard disks fell, Adams intensified his search for a better way to store his company's well data. At COMDEX in fall 2000, he made the rounds of the vendors' booths and came across Raidtec's NAS (network attached storage) appliance. The RAIDserver V12 NAS appliance had the capacity he needed at the price his company could afford. The unit with a terabyte of storage cost approximately $40,000 Canadian or $26,000 United States.

Adams had a direct hand in the selection, purchase, configuration, and installation of the Raidtec product. When the unit was delivered, he simply plugged it in, attached it to the network with a regular RJ 45 network cable, followed the Wizard for network settings, and was done. There was virtually no training to be done. With the new system, accessing the files takes only three seconds, compared to 20 seconds with the old system. And the almost 600% faster device doesn't slow down the network. The RAIDserver V12 is a fully integrated NAS file server. The appliance supports up to 24 of the latest 18 GB to 180 GB 15,000 rpm SCSI (small computer system interface) drives.

He Likes The Product So Much, He Sells It
When customers order image files from M.J. Systems they receive the data on either CDs or DVDs. Each well file is approximately 5 MB. A CD holds between 120 and 150 well logs and a DVD can hold up to 800 well logs. The customers can also receive the information on DLT (digital linear tape). If the amount of data they need rivals M.J. Systems' entire library, the customers can invest in a RAIDserver V12. In fact, Mike Adams has already sold two RAIDservers.

In the near future, M.J. Systems will be upgrading its NAS device by populating it with the new 180 GB drives. Then it plans to put all of Canada's well logs on disk.

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