How the cloud helps us below ground

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Pozo can look like a simple dashboard, but it’s much more. The cloud is now helping us make better decisions under ground.

You might think that drilling a well is just about figuring out where to drill and then getting to work? That’s miles away from the truth - it takes a whole lot of risk evaluations before a drill bit is anywhere near ground. Pozo hopes to help with that very process. 

“Pozo wants to gather data from relevant systems so that we can evaluate these risks, that we can’t look at in one system individually. It isn’t about replacing the current subsurface software, but being able to look at key data together. In the end, this helps us make better decisions,” Jo Smiseth explains. 

We’re meeting Jo in Trondheim together with Pozo project manager Tone Berit Ørnskar. They’re both sitting together with Software Innovation developers. But they didn’t decide to become desk buddies with our developers by chance, they are also acting as in-house domain experts for the Pozo team.

“Part of what makes the well planning process so complex is the risk assessment. And when you’re doing all of these risk assessments it's important to compare with geology, which we can do with Pozo."

Tone Berit Ørnskar

Photo of Tone Berit Ørnskar

More than meets the eye

Pozo came to be because of a need to review the well planning process, which can be quite complicated. There are a lot of iterations involved, between disciplines, data and apps. Currently, Pozo focuses on the concept phase of well planning but has the potential to cover more phases later.

So, how are they working to make it all work? Together with software developers of course! And for the end users it’s all quite groundbreaking.

“Pozo might seem like just a simple dashboard but there’s a lot of work being done that the user can’t see. That’s where the real challenge and exciting stuff lies,” team leader Terje Barstad Olsen says.

Photo of Terje Barstad Olsen, software developer in Equinor

“The most special thing about Pozo is making all these different parts work as one. While from a technical point of view it isn’t groundbreaking in itself, we have to spend a lot of time and energy to understand how older systems work in order to make them work together.” 

Terje Barstad Olsen

Pozo in a nutshell

  • A workflow tool designed to help visualize risk evaluation 
  • Used in the concept select phase of well planning
  • Gathers data from systems like EDMCompass and Pinpoint
  • Data is exported from these systems and into Omnia, our cloud platform
  • Pozo then imports the data from the cloud
  • Planners can easily look at both depth models and well data using the web dashboard

Optimizing data

Now, it’s time to head into the clouds to see how Pozo pulls it all together. They have a variety of data to work with, spanning from systems designed for geologists, geophysicists and engineers.

“While the data makes sense in each system, it might not make sense for us when we’re looking at the raw files,” Jørn Hegstad tells us.

Jørn is the tech lead for Pozo and explains that they’ve solved this through pipelines. All of the raw data from each system is exported to a data lake, then optimized for Pozo. They spent some time testing various ways of doing things.

“We’ve tried to find a couple of ways of solving each problem but at the same time it’s been important to do it as easy as possible. As a developer, there’s already a lot you need to know when you’re working on Pozo. I don’t see a point in creating anything that’s unnecessarily complicated to work on.”

Jørn Hegstad

Photo of Jørn Hegstad, software developer in Equinor

But before arriving at a finished tech or way of doing things, it’s not a one man show. While Jørn might be the tech lead and has the final word, everyone’s involved in discussions on what tech to use.

“Since we’ve been a smaller team working mostly on backend, everyone gets to voice their opinion on how we should solve things,” he tells us.

The dataflow

Step 1

Exporting raw data from software, e.g EDMCompass and Pinpoint.

Step 2

This data is uploaded and stored in a cloud data lake.

Step 3

Files optimized for Pozo are created. 

Step 4

These files are then imported into Pozo.

Getting up close and personal

They’re a talented team but well planning can be a complicated and long-lasting process. Thankfully, they’ve got two experts sitting right next to them. 

“It’s a relatively new experience working this close to someone who knows the domain. They have a lot of thoughts of what Pozo is supposed to be and can help push us in the right direction."

Jørn Hegstad

While other projects might not have their end users or product owners this close at all times, it’s definitely a factor in moving Pozo further ahead. There’s no shortage of software that’s mighty fancy but not created with the user in mind.

“Working with them as close as this makes it easier to create something that’s usable at an early stage,” Jørn explains.

But it’s far from a one-way street and the developer’s aren’t the only ones who’s learnt something new. Tone Berit says that she found it interesting to be part of the process and learn more about how you can create an actual product even from a small idea. 

“I think we have a tendency to be too detail-oriented in early stages of development but with Pozo we’ve had incremental changes all the way,” she says.

“Being this close to the developers means it’s faster from feedback to a solution. You don’t have to wait for two weeks to figure out how you’re going to solve the issue,” Jo adds.

The Pozo team consist of 9 software developers in Equinor

Every day in the Pozo offices are kicked off with a standup.
Daily standups are a staple in the Pozo team

These 15-minute meetings brings everyone up to speed on what each team member is working on.

Every day in the Pozo offices are kicked off with a standup.

These 15-minute meetings brings everyone up to speed on what each team member is working on.

Thinking one step ahead

But there’s more to making a usable product than developer sitting close to product owners. It’s also about creating a good user experience. 

“We want to create a tool that people use because they want to. We have to listen to the users to find out what they want and need since they don’t necessarily need Pozo to plan a well,” Mari Skatvold says. 

Mari works as the Pozo team’s user experience (UX) designer and an all-rounder in the design and UX of Pozo. She says that to figure out what the users want and need, they usually start by asking how they go about their work and how they wish they could do it.

“You have to understand the motivation behind what the user is doing. Why they’re doing something is just as important as understanding what they’re doing.”

Mari Skatvold

Mari Skatvold is a UX designer in Equinor's Pozo team
Since she's the only designer on the team, Mari handles all the design elements of Pozo - from buttons to user experience journeys.

Trying is the only way to know

While close contact with the users is one important element, the team is also focused on trying new things out as soon as possible. 

“We don’t want to spend months discussing or thinking about if something is gonna work or not, we’d rather just test it. That’s the only way to know for sure,” Mari says. 

And if something doesn’t work it’s not like they don’t have a plan to handle it. It’s more a matter of not being afraid of testing an idea or hypothesis. If it sounds like a challenging road to maneuver - it’s because it is.

“Pozo is probably the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on. But that makes it feel even better when we’re getting it right. I get a real sense of achievement when I’ve understood something about the domain and get to use my skills as a designer to create something good - that’s actually being used.”

Mari Skatvold

The team at Johan Sverdrup are currently using Pozo as part of their concept select phase and Berit Våg Aksland, a geophysicist, has been working as a test user since Pozo’s early days. 

She says that the team really listens to their feedback and thoughts, and that there’s a short way between feedback and implementation. Which is related to the way the entire project works and operates. 

“As a user it’s great to be this closely connected to the team and their agile way of working means we see results early on. They really focus on what we feel is important and we also have better opportunities to help shape the direction the product takes,” Berit says. 

“I’m excited by what Pozo is today but even more excited about what Pozo can be in the future,” she adds.

When developing Pozo, the team focused on the user experience - affectionately known as UX

Visual guides can help prioritize different parts of the user experience.
UX is an important part of the Pozo project

The Pozo team have their office walls full of post-it notes.

Visual guides can help prioritize different parts of the user experience.

The Pozo team have their office walls full of post-it notes.

A future of provenance

But there’s another important aspect to Pozo that’s still left unmentioned: provenance. Simply put, it means being able to see quite a bit of the history of the data: where it came from, who’s worked on it, what they did, and what work processes have been used to create the data. 

“I think we’re among the first projects that have such a strong focus on provenance. In the future we might be able to use machine learning to look at all the decisions made for wells and maybe determine what kind of decisions lead to a good well,” Terje says.

Jo explains that today, a lot of these processes are done manually and based on Excel and e-mails between disciplines.

To make the best use of this in both Pozo and other potential apps the team is creating Forum. Think of it as a philosophy for how to run e.g. APIs between the data located in the cloud and the actual Pozo app. It includes version control of data, storing provenance data, linking data to a business context and more. 

Photo of Jo Smiseth

“When we use automated workflows to e.g create well paths, and then store the corresponding provenance, we can screen more opportunities and come up with a better well plan. Seeing the provenance data allows the well planning team to trust the results of the workflows."

Jo Smiseth

This will come in handy in the future, especially when there’s quite a few fields who are looking to make use of Pozo and all it offers.

And if you want to stay in the loop on future workflows, software and other treats - make sure you subscribe to the Loop newsletter below. Until next time!


Photo of Jørn Hegstad, software developer in Equinor

Jørn Hegstad

Jo Smiseth

Photo of Tor Erik Rabben, software developer in Equinor

Tor Erik Rabben

Jan Erik Engan

Portrait of a Tone Berit Ørnskar

Tone Berit Ørnskar

Torgeir Haaland

Photo of Torgeir Myhre, software developer in Equinor

Torgeir Myhre

Photo of Terje Barstad Olsen, software developer in Equinor

Terje Barstad Olsen

Mari Skatvold

Photo of Øyvind Viken, software developer in Equinor

Øyvind Viken

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