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Journal of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA)
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Non peer reviewed)

Reducing rig personnel requirements with standards-based real-time data streaming

Ross Philo A B and Jay Hollingsworth A
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- Author Affiliations

A Energistics Consortium Inc., 5615 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77005, USA.

B Corresponding author. Email:

The APPEA Journal 58(2) 736-738
Accepted: 22 February 2018   Published: 28 May 2018


Cost reductions have become an essential response to lower oil and gas prices. Drilling rigs operate in distant and sometimes hostile environments, so relocating rig-based experts to remote control centres saves costs and improves health, safety and environment (HSE). Key staff can work in an improved environment and movements to-and-from the rig are fewer, lowering transport-related costs and risks. The offsite experts can apply their expertise to the operations of multiple drilling rigs from a single location.

To make this a reality, data from thousands of sensors on the rig and from measurement devices such as logging while drilling must be fed to the control room instantaneously and continuously. Legacy systems that poll rig-based devices for new data consume significant bandwidth and deliver data in a discontinuous manner with delays of 15 s or more. This does not meet the criteria for safe and reliable remote control of a rig and has been the reason why many roles have remained rig-based. This paper describes a new set of protocols that establish a continuous stream of data from devices on the rig to the control room with sub-second lag time. The new protocol also uses an order of magnitude less bandwidth, thus allowing more data to be carried in less time. Associated with industry-standard well-site information transfer standard mark-up language data transfer formats, the process operates with numerous service providers and software systems transparently. This paper includes a case-study to which the new protocol is applied, resulting in fewer permanent staff on a North Sea rig and fewer visits by an intervention contractor to the rig, with clear cost savings and HSE risk mitigation.

Keywords: collaboration, data transfer, drilling, HSE, modelling, monitoring, NPT, real-time, remote, reservoir production, standards, transfer protocol, upstream, WITSML.

Ross Philo attended the Imperial College of Science and Technology in the United Kingdom where he received a BSc (Eng) with First Class Honours. Ross has over 35 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. He has worked for Maersk Oil, Halliburton and Schlumberger companies, among others. He has held numerous executive management positions including CEO, CIO and other technology leadership roles. He most recently worked at Cognoscenti Consulting, which works with private equity and venture capital companies. Ross has lived and worked in some 30 countries worldwide in numerous management assignments. Ross is the CEO of Energistics Consortium Inc., providing the leadership to achieve its vision and mission to develop, distribute and support the adoption of upstream data transfer standards, including WITSML™, PRODML™ and RESQML™, among others. In his current position, he leads strategic planning, operations management and strategic alliances, building an inclusive global user community and facilitating a collaborative standards development environment. Ross is a member of the Energistics Board of Directors and a member of the Standards Leadership Council.

Jay Hollingsworth has a BSc and a post-graduate degree in Chemical Engineering at Tulane University in New Orleans. In addition, he attended graduate school in Computer Science at the University of Texas in Dallas. As an Environmental and Process Engineer, he focussed on technical computing at Mobil Oil, where for 20 years he was responsible for the data model of their FINDER global master data store and the suite of engineering applications in global use. Following this, Jay spent 10 years as the Portfolio manager for database technology at Schlumberger in the Landmark’s data modelling group where he was responsible for the data modelling group. After Schlumberger, he was an Industry Principal at Oracle® and is now the Chief Technology Officer for Energistics®. In this role, he is responsible for the technical adequacy of the standards stewarded by the organisation, including WITSML™, PRODML™ and RESQML™, among others. Jay is active in APSG, ISO, SPE and SEG. He is currently on the Board of the SPE Digital Energy Technical Section.


Halland, T., Meisal, K.I., Abrahmsen, T. and Morrison, P. (2018). New data transfer protocol improves drilling support and safety. World Oil, January 2018, 39–42.

Handscomb, C., Sharabura, S., and Woxholth, J. (2016) The oil and gas organization of the future. McKinsey & Company report. Available at

Hollingsworth, J., and Schey, J. (2017). From Data Transfer to Data Assurance: Trusted Data is the Key for Good Decisions In ‘Petroleum Network Education Conferences 2017’ (conference proceedings not publically available). Available at (Petroleum Network Education Conferences: Houston.)