Time is what keeps Memories of the Past from bumping into Dreamms of the Future
TRAVELS IN PURGATORY
My occupation is petrophysicist. My training is in engineering. The two fit together very well. The word "petrophysicist" will not be found in many dictionaries. My version is “petrophysicist: n. a person who studies the physical properties of rocks and their included fluids, with special regard to their economic potential in the petroleum, mineral, geothermal, groundwater, and energy sectors”.
There were hurdles along the road. I started going blind nine months before I was born, with a genetic disease called retinitus pigmentosa, better known as "tunnel vision". The tunnel gets progressively smaller with age. I was walking into tables and falling over obstacles by age three. By age seven, I had broken an arm and a leg from stumbles on steps. Today, I go nowhere without a guide. The tunnel is now about the size of a silver dollar at reading distance (try it - you won't like it) and about 4 feet wide at 20 paces. As a result, reading is a tad slow and faces are just a blur of jig-saw puzzle pieces. So if I don't recognize you, introduce yourself.
There is no cure - the cure is always "on the horizon", but as anyone who has driven a car knows, the horizon is always just ahead of you, and you never quite reach it. And no, glasses and lasers are not helpful - the retina cells die and no longer recognize light. One possibility is replacement of dead cells by stem cell therapy, but how you can convince stem cells to become retina cells and not fingernail cells escapes me. Someday. Maybe. Maybe not.
It made social life awkward as a youth (still is) but books and math were not difficult then. I read voraciously: science fiction, mysteries, adventure, histories. But I wasn't keen on politics or psychology, which would have done me a world of good. Today, it is audio books and old-time radio (OTR) plus the obligatory technical literature of my scientific trade.
Tunnel vision means that I can't read "body language", an important ingredient in business and social communication. Although I tried to fit into the corporate world in my early years, I found that I worked best as an independent operator. You will see this evolution as you read further.
Impending blindness is a hell of a motivator – get educated, get a job, see the world before it's too late. Every year had the same prognosis, “You’ll be blind in 5 years, so hurry, hurry!” So I hurried.
Just so there is no confusion, there are four other Ross Crain's with some degree of fame or infamy. One is a Texas born actor, working mostly in New York. Another is a restaurant manager in Oklahoma City. A newspaper publisher in Red Bluff, California and sometime Libertarian candidate for the US Congress is the third. The last, but not least, is a retired radio announcer and marketing man, now in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was in broadcasting in Montreal while I was in school there, but I never heard him on-air, so he must have been in the back somewhere, or I would have been kidded about my after school job. He now volunteers to record books for the blind at UBC - thanks Ross, we need more like you. I am not, and never have been, any of these people.
See my Vision Loss Page
In The Beginning
Looking back on history, it is clear that we did not "win" this war. There were 30 million dead soldiers to remember and 41 million civilians killed. This was current events when I started school, not ancient, forgotten history.
True, the Americans, British, Canadians, Aussies, and a rag-tag of French resistance fighters liberated Western Europe. But the Russians won Eastern Europe and milked it dry for more than 40 years, until bad management and television brought about an anarchistic form of dependent independence to the satellite Republics. All the US got was a lend-lease bill for a few trillion dollars, a lot of distrust because of the Bomb, and some economically worthless Pacific Island possessions, who would probably rather not be possessed.
The Canadians barely get a "thank-you", except from the Dutch, who rewarded us with tulip bulbs to decorate Ottawa's parkways. The French raised a monument at Ypres.
My parents were strongly affected by the war, emotionally if not physically, as were most adults of the era, and it rubbed off on me. In high school, we all agonized over the Korean War, the Suez crisis, the Cold War, and other precursors to a possible World War 3. The names have changed, but the crises continue to evolve and control by fear is now normal in many, many countries - what would George Orwell write if he was still alive today?
In the following 17 years, l learned the 3-R’s plus science and engineering in Montreal. It was then, and still is, a beautiful, cosmopolitan city with great entertainment and 400 years of living culture. Growing up here was an education in its own right, and spurred an interest in the rest of the world that has never left me.
I entered Grade 1 before my 5th birthday, four months after VE Day and just 3 weeks after Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and VJ Day, The radio news told the story and even children were aware that something terrible had happened. The Bomb had been born and the world was forever changed.
This early entry to grade school made me the youngest and smallest kid in the class for the next 11 years. Grade school and high school were easy. My homework was usually done before class was over. Coming first or second in scholastic achievement, I received scholarships for books and fees for the four years of high school. As today, being a "brain", wearing glasses, and being poor at sports brought a lot of taunts from classmates - no violence, but I had to pick my route carefully. In Cote Des Neiges, I worked on a horse-drawn milk cart on the way to grade school to earn streetcar fare for the homeward journey. This got me past the scary part of the trip.
There were no school buses and no lunch rooms, so we all had to make the trip 4 times a day. The streetcar fare was 1-2/3 cents (3 tickets for a nickel) - inflation over the past 55 years has multiplied this fare by more than 150 (a 15,000% increase), so if you think your present salary will carry you into retirement, think again! We rode brand-new PCC cars on Route 29 that ran to within a block of home and the school. The rest of f the MTC fleet was much older.
Family outings in the early days were mostly by streetcar: the open-air "Gold" cars gave a circle tour of the city, "White" cars to the end-of-line at Cartierville, "Green" cars to downtown for Christmas shopping, and Montreal and Southern Counties interurban cars to "see the country-side". These trips were cheap and could take all day, with a picnic lunch thrown in.
When gas rationing faded away, we toured the Montreal Harbour and all the train yards, giving rise to my permanent interest in transportation, especially model railways. Today, you can't get within a mile of these places without a dozen security checks.
We had two weeks vacation each year at the family cottage at Constance Bay just west of Ottawa. The 200 mile trip took all day on Highway 17 in the 1948 Austin A40. No heat, no power, no running water, and lots of Poison Ivy were easily overlooked. The beach was a great adventure, replete with bagpiper who brought all the kids home to their parents at sunset.
Our family moved west to Notre Dame de Grace in 1950. King George VI died in 1952 and Queen Elizabeth II became Canada's reigning monarch. One channel of black-and-white television arrived in Montreal that year, but our first set didn't arrive until 1954. Montreal West High School (now privately run Royal West Academy to avoid Quebec's draconian language law) was a healthy walk 4 times a day until our move into the new house in Montreal West itself.
I still remember some of the teachers: Miss Matthews in Grade 8 (she wanted me to walk home to get dry clothes after arriving wet - it was still raining), Mr. Cummings (he kept a half-size model of a Guillotine in the room to intimidate troublemakers), Mr. Mann (a great and caring PT instructor), and Mr. Wolf (who thought we should be able to recognize any piece of music by merely listening to him tap out the rhythm with a pencil). Mr Parsons, the Principal, was the stereotypical pompous-ass. If you have ever heard "Our Miss Brooks' on old-time radio, you know what these people were like.
In grade 8, all of us were given IQ and aptitude tests. My aptitude was to be a farmer or a clerk. I knew better – I was going to be an engineer. I did become an engineer and still practice engineering in the oil and gas industry. But circumstances also made me a farmer and a clerk. I built a cattle ranch out of the bush at age 40 by choice and was forced to become a clerk to satisfy the tax collector.
My parents were
great travelers. My brother and I had seen all the Canadian provinces
and all the
During my high school years, I worked after school and summers at Montreal West Hardware to earn pocket money. Here, I learned how to repair almost anything - there were no throw-away gadgets in that era - and how to sell Christmas trees, lawn mowers, and small appliances. Ray Nettleship, two full-time clerks (Red and Ernie), and a handyman were generous to a fault. Stock in the basement included horse harness and ferrier equipment; the main floor was nails, screws, post-war appliances, and unbreakable dishes; upstairs was living quarters for the owner and his family.
high school graduation, I took a week's vacation to visit family
friends in Florida. Eastern Airlines ran Douglas DC-7B's at about 7000 feet,
following the highways to aid navigation. I'm not sure what they did
on rainy days - there was no weather radar. For some reason, the
crew though I was an Eastern employee and treated me extremely well,
until my true age slipped out (a mere 16 years). After that, I was
just another passenger. This was my first aircraft trip; since then,
I've covered well over a million miles in dozens of countries on
every type of aircraft imaginable.
With many family connections, I took a promotion from hardware to a summer job with the Bell Telephone Company while attending McGill University. The company had been around since 1880 and was a pretty solid bet. There was well over 100 years of Bell service in the family and I was expected to follow these hallowed footsteps. The first summer was pole inspection - a real dream job in the country and elegant neighbourhoods, a little hot in the tight quarters of the older city center. Our foreman turned down an invitation on our behalf to Honey-Boo's pool, even when it looked like a great idea to the rest of us at noon on a 95 degree summer day.
The next 3 summers were in the Outside Plant Engineering department. The Bell System Practices (BSP's) were our bible and code book for everything. The only job I did that wasn't in the book was to move a concrete underground man-hole 6 feet to the west to get if off private property. Since every long distance wire between Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto went through this man-hole, it was a tricky maneuver. My final project was to design a cable TV system to be routed on existing telephone poles. It would be a contract job for Bell, but by the end of summer, it became clear that all my work was for nothing. The client could not raise the capital for the job, and it was done by others over the next couple of years - a disappointing end to my telephone career.
I had wanted to go to the University of New Brunswick and take Forestry. The outdoor life appealed but the eyesight problem and financial constraints made such a choice impractical. The most obvious choice was McGill, and so it was done. I still don't know what my parents gave up to make this happen.
reddening of the Maple leaves signaled the start of the school year
and the long streetcar ride downtown to the McGill campus. It also
meant the end of the summer job as Trainee Engineer at
Thanks to the
financial and moral support of my parents, I graduated
as an Electrical Engineer in 1962 from
The Macdonald Engineering Building was 50 years old in 1958 and is still in use today with little change except for better lighting. The lab gear was turn-of-the-century (19th century, that is). It all seemed so primitive. The new McConnell Engineering Building opened in 1959, doubling the number of classrooms and labs. Strangely, I don't have any memories of this building except for the main two-story theater-style lecture hall. I remember very little of the instructors. They were a cheerless lot with little interaction with individual students.
Fifty years have passed; new buildings, modern facilities, and the trend toward a less formal teaching style have changed all that. The school has always ranked extreme;y well in surveys over the years. Even US customs and immigration people have heard of the place. I did learn advanced-math, physics, chemistry, mechanics, and thermodynamics, and these served me well in my later career in the oil industry.
Swimming at lunch hour was my escape while others went to the pubs on Peel and McTavish Streets - still too young to be legal, although that didn't always stop me from joining in.
Job offers were plentiful – pulp mills, transformer design, power line design, telephone and cable television – the world was being wired in 1962. So I chose well logging.
“What is well logging?” my mother asked. “I have no idea.” I replied. “Where is it done?” she asked. I told her. She cried. Western Canada was uncivilized territory, at least in her opinion.
that the FLQ had begun bombing mailboxes in
PHOTO MEMORIES OF MONTREAL circa 1950 - 1960 - from a postcard set.
Learning The Trade - Schlumberger
So, what is a well log? It is a record of the physical properties of rocks recorded versus depth in a well bore, using various electrical and radioactivity measuring devices. It is recorded on paper or film (and now as a digital data file) so that we can view the data values, analyze them using calculators or computer software, and generate mumerical answers that help us understand the possible presence of oil or gas or minerals that might be economically extracted for use by all of us.
<= Each wiggly line on this image is a well log "curve" and the entire image is a portion of a complete "well log". Depths in the well bore run in the vertical direction on the image. Each log curve represents one particylar phyical property of the rocks.
Modern society could not survive without well logs - in a round-about way, they keep us warm, power our homes, and drive our trains, planes, and automobiles.
I lived in 13 different small towns and ran well
logs for Schlumberger from southwest
During one of the 3-day "days-off", I drove from Red Deer to Seattle over the Rogers Pass and return in the Austin to see the 1962 World's Fair. This was the year the Trans-Canada Highway was finally finished with real pavement. A piston blew at the top of the Rockies on the way home, leaving no choice but to continue homeward engulfed in a cloud of blue smoke maintained by five gallons of 80 weight gear lube "borrowed" from a construction site. Other 1962 milestones were Canada's first satellite (Alouette 1, using those new-fangled transistors), the first James Bond movie (Doctor No, starring Sean Connery), and the arrival of the Beatles in North America.
Each station manager treated me well: Al Chase,
Al Dorin, Bill Anderson, Mel Grey, Bob
Wilson, Ian Norquay would all have connections to my career later
on. Log analysis was charts and nomographs, or pencil and slide rule. There were no
calculators, no spreadsheets, no personal computers. While
still stationed in Red Deer, I did vacation relief in Stettler
and Drayton Valley. Both were one-truck stations with good crews
and good TAS (telephone answering service -- no voice-mail yet).
There were no calculators, no spreadsheets, no personal computers. While still stationed in Red Deer, I did vacation relief in Stettler and Drayton Valley. Both were one-truck stations with good crews and good TAS (telephone answering service -- no voice-mail yet).
was intensive, constant, and judged by exams. The
I was assigned a series of company cars with crapped-out steering and soggy suspensions, finally receiving a new Plymouth Fury in 1964. A company car was home - bedroom, kitchen, living room, and office while at the well sites. I drove over 80,000 miles in 1964, just to get to work.
Dave Dudley's "Six Days On The Road" was our theme song. Many nights on the road were spent listening to distant radio stations: country music on WSM Nashville, Studs Turkle telling stories on WGN Chicago, and a good variety of music on KFBK Sacramento. KFBK is now right-wing shock-jock-talk - what a waste of bandwidth. Local stations in that era went off the air at 11 or midnight and didn't reappear until 6 or 7 AM. I have been a fan of old-time radio (OTR) shows ever since and have a large collection.
During 1963, I was a YESS man: Young, Eager, Single, and Stupid, so I did the relief engineer slot – 3 days on each truck in Oxbow, Weyburn, and Swift Current - 12 days on duty, on call 24 hours a day, then 3 days off. After 6 months of this, I ran the station in Lanigan, Saskatchewan for about 4 months. Then I had a truck of my own in Oxbow.
There is nothing, I mean Nothing!, to do in Lanigan, so I did original research, in my spare time, on log analysis in the Saskatchewan potash beds. I was invited to visit the underground mine at Esterhazy to see how the real rocks compared to real logs Seeing geology from the "inside" sharpened my appreciation for the variability of nature.
The Cuban missile crisis, the beginnings of Viet Nam, and the Kennedy assassination took place during all this turmoil. Everyone old enough to remember knows exactly where they were when President Kennedy was shot in November 1963. I was on the side of a lease road, in a company car, filling out a service order near Hazlet, Saskatchewan. Patsy Cline and Hawkshaw Hawkins died earlier the same year in a plane crash. Ernest Hemingway and Marilyn Monroe had both committed suicide the previous year. Icons were disappearing quickly and it was a lonely period for a single man bouncing around in small towns.
My first computer
program was written in 1964 to
calculate potash analysis from well log data. It ran on the IBM
with 60K memory in
of this research were presented at the CIM convention in
research surprised Schlumberger and they awarded me a “Salesman
of the Year” scroll, even though I wasn’t a salesman.
The results from this research ended up in four other technical
papers and a Schlumberger Interpretation Manual. I was “a little too interested” in logging
potash wells, so I was transferred to Valleyview
in late 1964,
here, we covered a huge territory with few paved roads,
stretching from Fort McMurray and Calling Lake to the East, Swan
Hills and House Mountain to the South, Rainbow Lake and Zama to
the North, and Fort St. John and Monkman Pass to the West.
From here, we covered a huge territory with few paved roads, stretching from Fort McMurray and Calling Lake to the East, Swan Hills and House Mountain to the South, Rainbow Lake and Zama to the North, and Fort St. John and Monkman Pass to the West.
We flew in Beavers and single Otters,
cruised the treetops in Bell 204’s and G-4’s, slogged
through swamps and snow drifts on Nodwells
and Bombardier Sno-Cats, forded rivers
and played daisy-chain at the end of D-8 Cats in the company car.
Sometimes we even got to drive on pavement.
one job near Calling Lake, we drove into a Hudson's Bay Company
Trading Post. A little blond girl ran from us, screaming "Mommy,
Mommy, White Men!" We were Strangers in a Strange Land.
On one job near Calling Lake, we drove into a Hudson's Bay Company Trading Post. A little blond girl ran from us, screaming "Mommy, Mommy, White Men!" We were Strangers in a Strange Land.
My first job in northern Alberta was out of Swan Hills. I had driven from Oxbow in southeast Saskatchewan (about 700 miles) to find a map to the wellsite taped to the shop door. I was used to the square grid of township roads in the south and the map looked pretty square. But there are no grid-line roads in Swan Hills - I spent about three hours going in circles, finding my self back at the same confusing intersection in the middle of the wilderness. The route least traveled turned out to be the trail to the rig.
We drank Mai-Tai's on the catamaran cruise, circled the Island in a passionate-pink jeep, and dined at the Royal Hawaiian. It was pink, too. I had been listening to "Hawaii Calls" on the radio every Sunday night for years - it was like coming home!
insisted on seeing a wireline logging job
at a drilling rig, so we went out to a Big Indian rig, drilling
were some exciting trips. On the way to Peel Plateau in the
Next day we transshipped everything to a Beaver and set off to find our skid unit at the rig. A Beaver can’t climb much with a full load, so my photos (now lost to posterity) show mountainsides only a few hundred yards from the cockpit window. It was summer but it snowed throughout the job. There were not enough bunks so I slept on a spare bed with no mattress in the meat locker – cold but quiet and no cigarette smoke.
On the way out,
we had a two day layover in
On a spring breakup job in Red Earth, we got stuck in the mud on the way out after the job and ran out of fuel and food and water. We were out of radio contact too. Someone claimed they sent a chopper to find us after we went missing, but we never saw it. On the second night the rig’s fuel truck showed up inbound on the frost and filled us up. We drove out, two days late and suffering dehydration from drinking swamp water. We got a lecture from the boss, who was wearing a sport jacket and slacks at the time. We were less attractive.
Many trips were fly-ins, especially during spring and summer. This meant driving to an airport, or more likely a staging area beside a bush airstrip. Loading tools into an Otter or slinging them in nets under a Bell 204-B was hazardous. The usual problems of weather, icing, navigation, mud, and weariness made it all a little surreal.
What made the stress worse was the need to strip all the equipment and connecting cables from your logging truck, keep them dry, and reconnect everything inside the skid unit at the rig. One missing cable or tool and the job could be delayed for hours, even days. On return, you had to strip it all out and reconnect back in the logging truck before you could have a bath or go to the bar. You don't have to go to war to experience battle fatigue.
Somewhere along the way, I purchased a 1948 MG-TD, rewired it with armoured logging cable, and used it as my personal car. No heater and no sidescreens made it useless for about 8 months of the year, but it was fun.
Wives don’t thrive in isolated oil field towns. There was a strong push to get a “real” job, in the city, in the office. And lo, it was so.
is still the recognized leader in well logging, but competition
is more capable than in my logging days.
Ironically, 40 yeasr later, I wasteaching Schlumberger stimulation engineers all
about logging several times a year at Tulsa University. They were
so young, so keen, so naive - just like I was once upon a time.
The TIAC had only 8 Kb ferrite core memory (really slow) and read field data from 1 inch, 21 track tapes. It filled a large room, weighed a couple of tons, and needed massive amounts of air conditioning to stay alive. The program was read from punched paper tape, as were the analysis parameters prepared by us, the "geophysical engineers". Due to the small memory, some intermediate calculations were written to and read from a tape drive - disc drives arrived a few years later. A FORTRAN compiler allowed us to write our own routines when needed. It should be noted that when disc drives did arrive in the late 1960's, they were huge and heavy - one TI version was mounted on a horizontal shaft that needed Boeing 737 landing gear bearings to support it.
GSI patents gave them the lion's share of the digital acquisition and processing business for a few years. The IBM/360, 9 track field tapes, and competition broke this near-monopoly and by 1970 most people were using the newer formats and processing centers. Digtal recording and processing of geophysical data was a genuine revolution in both technique and in the quality of results. It was a great learning experience to be so close to the cutting edge.
I bought a used Austin A55 station wagon to survive the first winter and traded it for a nearly new MGB-GT hatchback in gleaming white - a very rare car. The MG-TD continued as the summer car. I put a down-payment on a house in Brentwood in Calgary, on the western edge of the city. Yuppiedom was looming.
A few crash courses in geophysics and I was a geophysical engineer, working for Carl Hickman, setting up data processing runs. I remember learning to convert decimal numbers to hexadecimal and back again, but I can't remember why, since the input parameters were coded in decimal. The TIAC worked in hex, so there must have been a conversion program in the system somewhere.
experience made me an instant “expert” so logging,
then geology and reservoir engineering, courses were suddenly
part of the job. I certainly learned more preparing the
courses than my co-workers did from my presentations.
Imagine an electrical engineer with a one-semester course in
hard-rock geology teaching soft-rock oilfield geology - not a pretty
Imagine an electrical engineer with a one-semester course in hard-rock geology teaching soft-rock oilfield geology - not a pretty sight.
I wrote a seismic inversion program for the TIAC to generate a
synthetic sonic log from deconvolved seismic traces. It didn’t
work, of course, or I would be world famous. I didn’t understand
the need for low frequency data – data that wasn’t
in the seismic signal. Roy Lindseth
solved the problem a couple of years later and he IS world famous.
We'll meet Roy again in the fifth reel.
We'll meet Roy again in the fifth reel.
On vacation, we drove to Montreal in the MGB to visit Expo 67, the celebration of Canada's 100th Birthday. Similar to the World's Fair, it highlighted achievements of many countries, not just Canada's, which were somewhat overshadowed by the US and Russian pavilions. It was the middle of the Cold War. My fondest memorry is the Mariachi music carried on the gentle harbour breeze from the Mexican pavillion.
The Calgary Tower was built during 1967-68 to a height of 190 meters (630 feet) providing a rotating restaurant and a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains. No longer the tallest building in Calgary, it still acts as the focal point of downtown Calgary.
in On a side trip from an SEG convention in
Houston, we took a long weekend in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The
Appletonn Express, then a Budd RDC1 rail diesel car, took us to the
interior of the island and a tour of the Appleton Rum
Distillery. The 80 mile return trip took all day and certainly gets
into the hills to see local sights. Out of service for many years,
there is talk of revitalizing the railway as a tourist train.
On a side trip from an SEG convention in Houston, we took a long weekend in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Appletonn Express, then a Budd RDC1 rail diesel car, took us to the interior of the island and a tour of the Appleton Rum Distillery. The 80 mile return trip took all day and certainly gets into the hills to see local sights. Out of service for many years, there is talk of revitalizing the railway as a tourist train.
I did a little PR-style marketing in Edmonton, Regina, and Quebec City, plus market research, data acquisition logistics planning for Dan Brennan. On one such trip to Quebec, I was bumped to First Class and sat with a Toronto lawyer, sipping free brandy for several hours. This was when Air Canada's First Class was actually first-class. Conversation turned to pastimes and wives. He said his wife was a pianist. I said "My wife plays the piano, too." He replied "I said she was a pianist, she does not 'play piano' ". The conversation ended there. But the brandy was pretty good.
The original GSI left
survived the mergers until 1994 when he purchased the rights to the GSI name and the non-exclusive seismic database. He might have
acquired the first non-exclusive data set that I set up for GSI in
1967. So the GSI name
lives on today, in Calgary and Houston, but it's an entirely
Learning The Trade – Dome Petroleum
Guess who taught log analysis
to the engineers and geologists?
Martin Luther King and Presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy were both assassinated in 1968 - more icons gone.
Inside of a year, this job was leading nowhere. Even though I had adapted the IBM 1130 reservoir engineering programs for Dome's use, no-one actually wanted to use them, preferring instead pencil, paper, and sliderule.
and my wife and I drove the MGB-GT to
Toronto in a little under 48 hours to see
the 1968 Grey Cup game.
This was long before Dome grew to be the biggest
bankruptcy in Canadian history, after blowing eight billion of
Other People’s Money on worthless assets and Arctic gas
that no one could deliver to market.
is long gone and most of its assets wound up at Amoco
Amoco merged with British Petroleum (BP) late in 1998 and the
Amoco name on gas stations was merged into oblivion in 2002.
Amoco merged with British Petroleum (BP) late in 1998 and the Amoco name on gas stations was merged into oblivion in 2002.
Gallagher and Charlie Dunkley ran a tight ship in the early days
of Dome - too bad they didn't keep a tighter rein on the debt later on.
"Smilin' Jack" Gallagher and Charlie Dunkley ran a tight ship in the early days of Dome - too bad they didn't keep a tighter rein on the debt later on.
Dome became a major client of mine in later years, when Jim
Hamilton, one of my mentors at Dome (and an ex-Schlumberger engineer
like me), acquired three of our LOG/MATE desktop log analysis
systems, and offloaded a significant amount of consulting work to us
Dome became a major client of mine in later years, when Jim Hamilton, one of my mentors at Dome (and an ex-Schlumberger engineer like me), acquired three of our LOG/MATE desktop log analysis systems, and offloaded a significant amount of consulting work to us as well.
The integration of geology
and engineering was very appealing, so I accepted the offer without
a second thought.
Al Gorrell, the senior geologist at Sproule, was instrumental in guiding my early attempts to find truth in log data. He was successful in instilling a sense of excitement and wonder about all things scientific, especially the infant science of quantitative log analysis. He gave unstintingly of his time, experience, and knowledge to all who asked. He traveled the world over on oil, gas, water, and mineral exploration projects, as well as social and humanitarian endeavours. Al Gorrel was killed in a terrorist attack on a hotel in Manilla, Phillipines, on 12 February 1985 while on a mission for the United Nations. Al's legacy lives on. Unfortunately, so does terrorism.
actually ran Sproule: the tea-lady,
the librarian, the geological secretary, and the engineering secretary
ran everything, and very well indeed, thank you. Although this
is a bit of an exaggeration, it never paid to forget their power.
Today, of course, there are no tea-ladies or secretaries,
just executive assistants.
Today, of course, there are no tea-ladies or secretaries, just executive assistants.
The reservoir engineering tasks were interesting and the cash flow was purposely conservative. The banks loved it and it suited the Canadian psyche of the era.
Early on, I wrote a log analysis program that ran on the CDC 3300. Computrex could digitize short chunks of logs and put them out on punch cards. There was only one building in Calgary with a floor strong enough to carry the weight of the rotating drum memory. It was an old grain mill. We used the program only rarely – many jobs were done with pencil and paper and a sliderule, just like we did it at Dome Petroleum.
the spring of 1969, came King Resources. They wanted to explore
for sulphur on Melville Island in the Canadian
My wife objected. We were trying to build a new house in Bragg Creek. I went anyway. This was the summer that Apollo 11 landed on the Moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. We heard about it from Voice of Russia, which came in well on my portable radio. Most of the crew at Caribou Lake on Melville Island felt that we had landed there too. Pretty barren, pretty cold, and our life-line was long and tenuous.
Nothing happened on the house – there was
no one in charge. At
So we surveyed
the well locations, got the drills to work; laid out some seismic
lines on a map, got the seismic underway. Others saw action, so
on their own, they started to work. I did the initial well location
surveys with sun shots and an almanac, just like David Thompson
170 years earlier. Later we used a Tellurometer
that didn’t like cold weather and computed the data with
Early in my first tour of duty at Caribou Lake in 1969, the well being drilled by Dome Petroleum a couple of miles away blew out. We watched proceedings from a safe distance, but went on with our work. The blowout built an ice cone 200 feet high and was visible for many years on satellite photos. In 1973, I was back at Drake Point, supervising logging crews for PanArctic Oils - small world!
I logged the sulphur exploration wells too, but spent most of my time on logistics: food, fuel, accommodation, camp staff, drilling supplies, land and air transport, radio communications, marital counseling, daily reports, planning, and more planning.
I had to
fire the helicopter pilot because he scared the rig hands (that
takes a bit of doing) and he refused to stop buzzing rigs and
camps. The nearest replacement pilot was in
This was my first management post and I still don’t like telling a person that his services are no longer required, regardless of how dire the circumstances.
was a high-flyer. They brought a plane load of Directors and investors
to camp and expected meals and beds. John Glenn,
the first US astronaut to circle the globe in a spacecraft (Feb
among them, as was
John King himself. The
nearest spare beds were at
Native sulphur lay on the surface in several locations, the result of erosion and chemical alteration of gypsum from Barrow Dome. NASA insists that this dome is a "salt dome" and uses it in training materials. When I tried to explain that gypsum is not "salt" in the sense of "halite or rock salt", they replied that gypsum was also a salt, so they were "Right". "Stuff" and nonsense - don't use gypsum on your next steak. It takes years to dissolve (that's why we make wall board from it) and it tastes terrible. Gypsum is a covalent bond, like halite, but so is calcium carbonate - and no-one thinks of limestone as a salt or evaporite.
All the King Resources brass went home with a bag of loose sulphur, probably all the native sulphur to be had on Melville Island. We didn’t find any more than a trace in the drill holes.
We did find oil at the south edge of one of the gypsum domes, but no one was interested.
Another disaster in the making
involved wildlife. King Resources had agreed to let
Al Oeming, owner of a game farm/zoo
time for my rotation back to
On my next trip out, the pilot and I both fell asleep on the way to Res Bay – the autopilot worked beautifully until we ran out of fuel. The silence woke us both up and after flipping to auxiliary tanks, the engines caught and we stayed aloft, and awake, for the rest of the journey. After one more rotation, the job was packed up, and I returned to the office. Our house was finally built that winter – there was someone in charge again. I did the wiring, insulation, inside paneling, and roofing in my spare time.
King Resources went bankrupt shortly after. John King was charged with fraud in regard to some investments by a mutual fund in his properties that "went missing". I had loaned them my photos for inclusion in their annual report. None appeared in print and the photos were never returned.
Intel invented the first microchip CPU and the precursor to the Internet (ARPANET) appeared - few of us noticed these world-changing events in 1969.
Bill Anderson, one of my bosses from my Schlumberger days, took over my position at Sproule when I went to Australia for Digitech. Later, Bill was responsible for starting my independent consulting career.
passed away in 1970, at the far too young age of 65, before his
dream of major oil and gas discoveries in the Arctic were finally
and Associates survived, and is still considered the pre-eminent
resource evaluation consulting company in
After a short orientation at Digitech’s
to finish a 3 year Business Development Certificate, started 2
and a half years earlier at
The exam would have taken two hours had I stayed in Calgary.
The exam would have taken two hours had I stayed in Calgary.
Digitech in Sydney was exciting and hard work – new computers, new people, new work ethic. The computers were an EMR 6050 with and EMR 6130 to read tapes and drive the plotters. EMR was a subsidiary of Schlumberger - you just can't get away from those guys. We used a motor-generator set to convert the 50 Hz current to 60 Hz.
went well during the first year. Dave Robson was a great mentor
and Sydney was a great city to live in. I traveled to the capital cities; Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth,
we did pig-out on an authentic
On more recent trips in 2001 and 2002,
everything is paved, there are no open sewers, and the freeways
and hotels look like
Back in Australia, John Boyd came in as second-in-command later in 1970 and was instrumental in raising the quality of our staff and our processing. Rick Bogehold kept the software in shape. Dave Pratt ran the mineral exploration side of the business. All three went on to run their own independent processing centers in later years, John in Calgary, Rick in Denver, and Dave in Sydney.
the Australian Federal election. The new Labour government ran
the foreign oil companies out of town and made it difficult for
local firms to raise capital. Seismic crew activity dropped to
near zero. The rig count dropped to less than a dozen. Digitech hadn’t the resources to carry on in
a bit of trouble in
Although I initially had a company car in Sydney, I abandoned it for a 1947 MG-TC, wire wheels and all. It cost $800 and could be used all year in the NSW climate. I sold it before I returned for $900. How dumb can you be? It was worth 10 times its cost here in Canada had I thought to ship it home.
with the other Canadians to work in the We also got new
computers - a Univac 1108 replaced the EMR 6050. Cmdr. Grace Hopper,
a computer dcience pioneer and legend, and a US Naval Officer,
showed up for the inauguration of our 1108. In full dress Naval
uniform (she never appeared in public any other way), she held court
at a Digitech reception for clients.
We also got new computers - a Univac 1108 replaced the EMR 6050. Cmdr. Grace Hopper, a computer dcience pioneer and legend, and a US Naval Officer, showed up for the inauguration of our 1108. In full dress Naval uniform (she never appeared in public any other way), she held court at a Digitech reception for clients.
Like most other mainframe manufacturers, UNIVAC survived a few mergers and divestitures, to disappear completely in the early 1980's. Dinosaurs cannot survive the meteoric impact of the mini-computer, now more popularly known as the personal computer.
During an expansion in 1972, Digitech took prime tenancy in a new building. I was assigned to oversee the special facilities needed for the computers, and nearly died while doing it. For weeks, I had been walking up to the second floor to inspect progress. The stairs were unlighted and the second floor had no windows. One day, I headed for the stairs, but felt a draft and stopped. The stairs weren’t there! I nearly walked off into empty space. It turned out the stairs failed a fire inspection and had been jack-hammered away – no barricade was put up. Just one of the hazards of poor vision.
Shortly after, we moved all the computers out the windows of the old building with a crane, trucked them to the new building, and craned them up to a hatch in the second floor wall. The second floor location was a security measure - there had been several bombings of computer centers in the USA and one in Canada. There are Ludites everywhere.
Thirty-six hours later,
we were up and running. We also took control of Computer Data
Processors Ltd and moved all their equipment to the new building. CDP was Roy Lindseth’s first major
business venture and there had been tremendous rivalry between
Digitech and CDP.
We also installed the first remote job entry terminal outside the computer center. I can’t claim much credit for this as Univac and Texaco were the prime instigators. However, the negotiations with the telephone company to get a full duplex, uninterruptible line that was clean enough to carry 300 bits per second for at least one mile was the daunting task assigned to me.
left her para-legal job and me for a
career in interior decorating in
Digitech went bankrupt in 1979, but the name carried on for a few years under new owners. Ben Berg went on to develop a business to scan pre-digital seismic sections and maps – scanning was a new and emerging technology in 1974,
took over R. Cruz and Associates, changed the
name to Veritas, and grew it into a world class giant in seismic acquisition and
processing. After Dave retired from Veritas in
2004, he formed a private equity business. Shortly after,
Veritas merged with CGG, the result now known as CGG-Veritas. (CGG
was born in 1931 by Schlumberger, with a number of small French
firms and banks, combining their various geophysical methods and
licenses into a single independent company - Schlumberger sold its
interest in CGG in the early 1950's.)
Flying On My Own – Crain and Associates
This work expanded quickly and other clients came on board, so E. R. Crain and Associates Ltd was born. Bob Meneley and Diego Henao were easy to work for, and even Charlie Hetherington showed a grudging respect for what we did to keep the loggers honest and on time.
Upon leaving Digitech, I had bought a brand-new 1973 Mustang II hatchback in silver and black with red leather interior - very macho looking, but a little bit gutless even with a V-6. It was the first "new" car I ever purchased with my own money. I put 250,000 miles on this car before it rusted off its frame. I also picked up another MG-TD, over-priced and needing some TLC. I later sold it to a fellow petrophysicist, Case Struyk, who stripped it to its last nut and bolt and has nearly finished the restoration, 20 years after acquiring it.
You might wonder why all these side trips into automobiles. You have to appreciate that I was going blind, slowly but surely. When would it be bad enough to terminate the privilege of driving? Well the answer was "soon". I quit driving at night in 1979 and quit driving altogether in 1985. One of the greatest feelings of loss is not the loss of vision, but the loss of independence when you give up driving yourself when and where you want.
the first non-PanArctic jobs
in my consulting career was, believe
it or not, for Digitech. Before I left
Digitech, I had put together a proposal for a seismic
processing center in
entered China by way of Hong Kong, still under British rule aat the
time. Then a train to
We were shown all the tourist sites before tourists were allowed
into the country. We saw the
We could walk anywhere we wanted
but accidentally found Chairman Mao’s compound. We were
politely shooed away. It was February,
it was cold, and the smog from a million soft coal space heaters
was more than most throats could bear. There were no private
cars in Beijing in 1974, a few buses, a few Government cars, and a
few million bicycles. Compare that to today's modern Beijing,
created from scratch in less than 30 years.
It was February, it was cold, and the smog from a million soft coal space heaters was more than most throats could bear. There were no private cars in Beijing in 1974, a few buses, a few Government cars, and a few million bicycles. Compare that to today's modern Beijing, created from scratch in less than 30 years.
Our presentation went well but we wondered how our hosts knew when to get the right people gathered for each phase of the process, without asking. We realized the rooms had to be bugged so we started doing our planning sessions while out walking. Suddenly the pictures in each of our rooms were changed and they started asking us what would be presented next. No one lost face.
and Germans were our competition. The Canadian government was
not prepared to offer sufficient guarantees for the project. The
French company CGG got the job. The
French had learned years ago that politics and business are
intimately intertwined. Canada hasn't figured that out even
The French had learned years ago that politics and business are intimately intertwined. Canada hasn't figured that out even today.
we left, we met a fellow who was training Chinese technicians
on maintenance of Boeing 727’s. He had to teach all topics
to all trainees – hydraulics, electronics, engines, you
name it. No one was allowed to be a specialist, but none of the
trainees could grasp all of an airplane’s complex systems.
This man was not allowed to leave
My log analysis in 1973 was done on the first
calculator ever invented – the HP-45. It had memory for
49 program steps and 7 registers to hold input data, parameters,
and answers. Imagine – a complete log analysis program in
just 49 steps! Later, we moved up to the HP
41C and TI 59, giving
us the equivalent of 400 steps and a dozen registers. Wow!
Computer log analysis for PanArctic was done using Schlumberger’s Saraband and Coriband programs. With my direction, Computrex digitized and plotted the core data on a scale that would directly overlay the Saraband plot. This was the first time log and core data were integrated in a clear visual manner.
ran most of the Saraband jobs at the Schlumberger data center in Calgary. He was a sharp engineer – I had been
one of his trainers when he was stationed at Swift Current. Bob
went on to Schlumberger Ridgefield, later to GRI in Austin, and
now consults from
We also ran dipmeter and directional surveys in most wells, also processed in Calgary. Since the surveys were run close to the magnetic North Pole, magnetic compass directional surveys were useless and gyro-compasses were used. The survey was "closed" by logging all the way in and out of the borehole - that could take up to 30 hours. Gyro drift and earth's rotation were distributed mathematically to make the closure error equal to zero.
Sperry-Sun direction surveys were also run while drilling. They never agreed with the Schlumberger surveys. The problem was that they did not run a closed survey, choosing instead to run short "add-on" survey segments to earlier surveys. The accumulated errors were huge and directional information was grossly different than the closed surveys. No amount of discussion could convince Sperry to run a closed survey to confirm their errors. Today, everyone uses 3-axis accelerometers for this, and all surveys are closed.
The Panarctic contract ran until the PetroCanada takeover around 1984. From the very beginning in 1973, the work involved a highly integrated petrophysical analysis of each well, performed first at the well site, then more rigorously in the office. All geological data (sample descriptions, mud logs, cores, regional geology, special core analysis), engineering data (drill stem and production test recoveries, pressure transient results, capillary pressure data), and geophysical data (basin maps, local structure) were integrated during the petrophysical analysis.
A composite report was generated in 1977, covering all Arctic wells drilled to that date, and maintained as new wells were drilled. The report included 70 pages of text, 150 illustrations, and over 1000 pages of supporting data, as well as a wall of file cabinets with original and computed log prints, and a room full of magnetic tapes. This was the first of a great many integrated petrophysical reports to follow over the next 30 years.
about 200 flights to the
There was always the risk of Polar Bears, so each rig camp had a guard dog. One very dark blizzard, I was following the rope out to the rig from camp. About halfway, when both camp and rig were out of sight in the snow, I heard a snuffling sound behind me. “Oh shit” I said, “I’m done for, now”. It was the dog, not the bear.
a problem bear at
lost 28 men in a plane crash when CF-PAB went through the ice
on approach to
joined as an Associate in 1975. Bob Bigg
and Kelly Woronuk joined in 1976,
and Ian Norquay followed in 1978. They
handled all the
from his farm at Rycroft, Bob from home
in Grande Prairie, Ian from Selkirk, Manitoba, Dave from Vernon
BC (on his motorcycle in good weather), I worked from Bragg Creek,
and Bill, the sensible one, actually lived in Calgary. Bill
Cuttress and Arne Matiisen hung their hats briefly in our shop
while they were between other ventures.
Bill Cuttress and Arne Matiisen hung their hats briefly in our shop while they were between other ventures.
By chance, in mid-1976, I saw a demo of the HP9825 “calculator”. It had 4000 bytes of random access memory and a digital cassette tape drive built-in that had a 250K capacity. The operating system lived in a separate 24K ROM, leaving the RAM available for programs and data.
There was also an 11 by 17 inch flat-bed plotter. Shazam! The first desktop micro-computer system for log analysis was born. It was fast. It was small. It was portable. It was friendly. It was LOG/MATE! All prior systems were either mainframe or time-share (to a mainframe), which were not fast, not portable, and definitely not friendly, with turnaround of many hours or days.
A digitizer and dual 5-1/4 inch 250Kb floppy disc drive were soon available, then a decent printer. By today’s standards, these were expensive and primitive, but there was nothing else like it on the market for many years. More importantly, plug-in ROMs for scientific functions and Fast Fourier Transforms were available, allowing us to write compact, fast code for log analysis and seismic modeling that could not be done in any other micro-computer.
Dave Curwen and I programmed this calculator turned computer to do everything a mainframe program could do, and then some. We used a lot of mathematical tricks with integer and fraction parts of numbers to save memory space, just as I had done with the HP-45 calculator.
The Apple II was introduced in April 1977. It differed from its major rivals, the TRS-80 and Commodore PET, because it came with color graphics. They were all too little and too late to solve our needs and were not capable of scientific work for several more years. Apple, of course, has survived and so has HP. They both have adjusted and adapted to changes in technology trends.
Bill Gates was starting Microsoft by 1976,
but we were totally unaware of this, the third world-changing event
in my lifetime, after the Intel microchip and ARPANET.
It was not until 1981 that IBM married the
Intel chip and Microsoft operating system in the first IBM-PC model
5150. We had our HP system doing useful work 5 years earlier.
And it wasn't until 1985 that the IBM-PC/AT, with an 80286
processor, could catch up to the HP 9800 series in scientific
It was not until 1981 that IBM married the Intel chip and Microsoft operating system in the first IBM-PC model 5150. We had our HP system doing useful work 5 years earlier. And it wasn't until 1985 that the IBM-PC/AT, with an 80286 processor, could catch up to the HP 9800 series in scientific calculation capability.
Office consulting expanded rapidly with the LOG/MATE system as the backbone of many projects, large and small. Staff grew to 5 full-time professionals, 3 full-time technicians, a secretary / book keeper, and several part-time technicians and programmers.
After the LOG/MATE daze, Monte continued his professional career
with Anchutz, Hunter, and others in Denver, and is currently with
EOG in Midland, Texas.
After the LOG/MATE daze, Monte continued his professional career with Anchutz, Hunter, and others in Denver, and is currently with EOG in Midland, Texas.
LOG/MATE, and later LOG/MATE PLUS, pioneered the practical use of Holgate plots to calibrate log to core data, as well as the “4-D Plot” using a symbol to represent the Z axis and colour to represent the W axis on a conventional X – Y crossplot. The use of colour could illuminate rough hole conditions, shale volume, lithology, or anything else the analyst desired.
HP hardware continued to evolve and the 9825 became a 9826, then 9836, 9845, and eventually the HP320 series, each with more memory,speed, display capabilities, and language fratures.
of wells were processed through LOG/MATE by our staff in
We added seismic modeling capabilities for some clients in 1981, using the built in Fast Fourier Transform ROM of the HP9800 series, and cash flow analysis for others. These features were very popular and added materially to the concept of "Integrated Petrophysics" that we were trying to promote.
Our seismic modeling concept included a quick-look approach to modeling the effect of gas on sonic and density data that was required for the then popular "bright-spot" technique for seismic interpretation. With John Boyd as co-author, we won Best Paper of the Year award for this work from CSEG in 1982. These models tended tp produce surprising results, which of course was the point of the whole exercise.
Mapping of petrophysical properties was added ln 1982, but not pursued as vigorously as possible, mainly due to the looming financial crisis, high interest rates (24%), and receivables running at 180+ days. The mapping code was written by my brother, Ian Crain, under contract to Log/Mate Limited. Ian was then, and still is, an expert in geographical information systems (GIS).
Integration of core, test, and formation top data was always part of the basic system, a foretaste of the integrated software to come. And all of this ran in 24 Kb memory - try to do that today!
Beginning in 1978, I started teaching courses and seminars on integrated petrophysics, both in-house and in open-sessions in our office space on 8th Avenue..
achievement was the installation, in 1981, of a multi-computer,
shared-resource LOG/MATE system for tar sands analysis at the
"shared-resource" doesn't mean anything to you, think "server
plus PC workstations" (not time-share mainframes with
If "shared-resource" doesn't mean anything to you, think "server plus PC workstations" (not time-share mainframes with dumb-terminals).
There was little time for travel except to Arctic and other remote well sites. But the SPWLA Convention in 1980 was in Mexico City. I took a week at Zihuatanejo on the west coast near Ixtapa. Cervesa, civeche, and hot sun on the beach washed away seven years of stress - missed a day of the Convention, too. A tame bull-fight, Mariachi music, and great food were supplied in plenty.
One of the side-effects of retinitus pigmentosa is often early-onset cataracts. After the Mexico trip, the cataracts were surgically removed and replaced with lens implants. This eliminated the need for reading-glasses - one less hassle in a hassle-full life.
Over the next 3 years, I cleared the scrub, built a house and finally moved from Bragg Creek in 1978. I laid up most of the logs myself, but had 2 carpenters do the roof and finish carpentry. Being an electrical engineer, I wired the house myself, setup a 4 KW wind generator, and charged re-claimed telephone office batteries. The ranch was, and still is, 3 miles from the nearest power line and nearest neighbour. The wind generator died of fatigue and old age in 2001 and has been replaced by a 1200 watt solar array. A major house fire in 2001 meant a major rebuild. All is well at the ranch again.
Between 1980 and
1984, I cleared, cultivated, and seeded another 240 acres of lease
land. I left all the good trees as windbreaks and shelter belts,
cultivating only willows and scrub brush.
the first of many Horned Herefords were on site and the calving
– feeding – marketing learning-curve began, including
a two week hands-on course at
I kept an apartment in Calgary and commuted weekly or as needed.
I kept an apartment in Calgary and commuted weekly or as needed.
A flotilla of tractors and farm machinery was acquired, and I drove these until 2001. I only wiped out two fences that I know of. I like red so the tractors were all Massey Ferguson, but I'm not allowed to drive them any more without a seeing-eye guide onboard.
From 1979 to 2005, we raised purebred Hereford bulls and replacement females for commercial ranchers and other purebred breeders. We were told that our stock was "one of the best kept secrets in the Hereford industry". Our bulls were Maternal Trait Leaders and 10% of our cows showed up on the Top Producing Female list most years.
In 2005, the heart of our herd was sold to the Bohnet family of High River and the younger bred cows were dispersed through Innisfail Auction. The bred heifers, yearling bulls, and 2-year old bulls were sold in 2006. There are still cattle at Rocking "Are" - now we run grassers in the summer and lease some grass to keep the pastures in good condition.
We put a lot of time and effort into our Herefords, not to mention love and affection for the cows, their calves, and our great bull power. We miss their peaceful nature and truly mourn the loss of our “family”. Full details are Here.
Trudeau brought us the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 as well, but it didn't help the oil industry. It didn't even guarantee the right to own property.
I was fortunate to sell the assets and on-going business of Log/Mate Limited to D&S Petroleum Consulting Group Ltd and continued as their Petrophysical Manager until 1986. D&S took on all our staff, but several were laid-off as the business climate continued to decline.
1984, I remarried in
At D&S, we migrated LOG/MATE PLUS to LOG/MATE ESP, still on HP computers, but with the aim to move onto the “new-fangled” IBM/PC. Although it arrived in 1981, the PC wasn’t powerful enough to consider until the IBM/PC-AT showed up in 1985.
joint venture agreement between D&S and the The CWLS awarded me "Best Paper of the Year" for the AI
The CWLS awarded me "Best Paper of the Year" for the AI research presentation..
I was officially the D&S Project Manager, but in fact had little autonomy. Between the D&S money problems, and ARC's need to demonstrate academic research, there was little room to actually build anything that worked. We experimented with rule-based systems using LISP and ProLog, favourite programming languages of the AI fraternity. Archaic and arcane, these were easily shown to be inferior to conventional languages in coding rules for petrophysical analysis.
The D&S team consisted of me, Dave Jaques, Kathy Knill, Ken Edwards, and Ron Jakeman; Lance Pepperdine was added later. ARC provided Bob Hipkin (an ex-Schlumberger electronics wizard) as my counterpart, Lynn Sutherland, Ken Gamble, several AI experts who floated in and out on short term contracts, and Evie Einstein, a not-too-distant relative of Albert himself. This was a pretty powerful group and with fewer sidetracks up blind alleys, the project might have gone more smoothly. Too many cooks, not enough meat for the stew.
The continued low prices for oil, and continued repercussions from the NEP, hurt the prospects for the success of this project and it was suspended in the fall of 1986. It was revived, without my involvement, in mid 1987 and a product named INTELLOG was delivered in 1988, based predominately on the ESP model and my original AI research, augmented by a working rule base developed by Einstein and Edwards. It took a year to get my severance pay but I got it, at the doorway into the court room, moments before the judge entered and only a few months before D&S closed its doors for good.
I have often bemoaned the apparent lack of successful AI programs. Ray Kurzweil explained this in 1990 in his book "The Age of Intelligent Machines".- It seems that when an AI program is successful, it's not AI, just smart coding. So you don't hear much about AI today. Somewhat like myths and legends, the moment you believe in a myth or legend, they are not myths or legends anymore.
If you would like to try some AI, see if you can write a set of rules that can distinguish between the three critters at the left, then see if the critter on the right can be identified by the same rules. What distinguishes a horse from a cow from a baby calf? Once trained, a human has no problem. When I was young, horses were attached to wagons, cows were not, so it took a while to differentiate a horse from a cow when both were grazing in a farmer's field.
D&S was not a pleasant place to work. My desk was searched, I was screamed at by other managers, tension was very high, inter-departmental jealousy at fever-pitch, departmental accounting overstated expense and overhead, understated income, R&D tax credits were shaky. I was warned of this at our "welcoming" party by one of the managers; it was a little too late to back out then.
Al Gorrel, a friend and mentor from my earliest days in the oil patch, was killed in a terrorist attack on a hotel in Manila, on 12 February 1985 while on a mission for the United Nations. I attended his funeral but the memory was somewhat spoiled when D&S deducted 4 hours from my monthly contract fee for leaving to attend "without permission". Ain't power wonderful! I dedicated my textbook in his memory when it was published in 1986 and again in the electronic version that was put on the Internet in 1999.
D&S management never understood the integrated project concept, so the seismic, cash flow, and mapping functions were dropped from ESP. The turf wars were terrific and no function that could or might be done by another department was allowed on our system. What a waste!
They also failed to foresee the impact of PC’s and were reluctant to pursue “non-conventional” desktop workstations, preferring instead mainframes and dumb terminals. This meant that resources for ESP were constantly under attack, even suspended from time-to-time.
was wound-up in 1989 and re-surfaced under new ownership in
1992, but INTELLOG was essentially dead.
Maybe if Ted denHartog and Bill Fisher had tended to D&S business instead of
gambling, and losing, in Calgary real estate, D&S might have
survived intact. Maybe not; the National Energy Policy really
did shut down the oil industry for several years.
Maybe if Ted denHartog and Bill Fisher had tended to D&S business instead of gambling, and losing, in Calgary real estate, D&S might have survived intact. Maybe not; the National Energy Policy really did shut down the oil industry for several years.
Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics. The city won great praise for its handling of the affair, as well as for the warm reception given to the visitors. "Eddie the Eagle" made his debut on the high jump but failed to qualify for further honors. The Jamaican bob-sled team also failed to win, but were honoured none-the less for their valiant attempt. The organizing committee didn't lose any money, much to the distress of Montreal, who are still paying for the 1976 Olympics.
Husky? It motors
on as one of Canada's two integrated oil companies. Although it was
wholly-owned by Li Kai Sheng, a Hong Kong businessman, when I was
there, Husky is now a publicly traded company with $80 billion in
Flying On My Own Again – Spectrum 2000 Mindware
Technical staff for these projects was hired on a contract basis and overhead was kept to a minimum. I would not be trapped by another oil industry recession. With PC’s, distributed processing was a reality – each contractor could work at home if they wished. Weekly breakfast meetings kept it all together and data was transferred on diskettes. Today, we would use email for meetings and data transfer – but the concept of distributed processing was started long before the Internet became useful to ordinary people.
The largest project in this era was 700 wells of the Burgan field
When Kuwait was finished, I took a tour of Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand with my wife, with an extra week at the Royal Winter Fair in Sydney. The tour contingent comprised McGill and Toronto alumni, all well-off and pretty well retired. We were not-so-well-off and far from retired, so it was a bit of a mis-match. Unfortunately, my wife decided to take the photos. She shot 16 rolls with an auto-focus, auto-exposure, manual-film-advance camera with a dead battery. It's a good thing I have a good memory for scenery - every photo was a grey-blue blur. On balance, it was a good vacation, especially visiting my old haunts from 20 years earlier.
projects in Asia, North Africa, and
On one such job, I was called in after 3 months of "no progress" on a large study being analyzed by a friend of mine. A half day of research revealed he had been building the data base and had a complete analysis ready to run on about 300 wells. We checked the code, ran a few test wells, checked them, then pressed "Start" on the batch run. Next day, we delivered the results. I was a hero, but they would have had the same results without me.
Another involved a clear case of misinterpretation of log analysis results. The log analysis itself was actually very well done. The client knew the interpretation by the consultant was wrong, but some cultural differences and some harsh words had prevented reconciliation. I spotted the error in a moment. Integration of production, test data, and core data proved my conclusion easily. Everyone backed off and smiles were soon on every face.
Another cultural problem occurred in Fort McMurray. The complaint was "noisy" dipmeter data. The processing parameters had been changed between one contract year and the next. The new data was better and more useful than the old, but the geologist would have to work harder to use it. The cultural problem? The geologist was a visible minority and had suffered real, and probably imaginary, discrimination for years. He wasn't about to listen to another slight on his skill or ambition. No smiles this time, but the boss was happy as I had independently confirmed his view of the situation.
The following year, I was called back for another dipmeter problem. The logs had dead spots with no data. One trip to the logging truck showed a buildup of heavy oil on the electrodes, which the crew would wipe off with diesel fuel. But then they would run back in, relogging the previous interval and getting oiled up again - no new interval could ever get logged this way. So I asked "Why do you re-log the interval you already have, instead of just the interval you need?" The answer was a resounding "@#$@#", followed by a sheepish grin. Sometimes, you can be too close to your own work to see the solution.
Some of the more interesting analytical jobs were the fractured gas reservoirs in Pakistan, gas in metamorphics in Indonesia, Canada’s only fractured granite exploration well, Viet Nam’s fractured granite at White Tiger (Bach Ho), laminated shaly sands in Venezuela and Canada, and numerous shallow gas and tar sands projects in Canada.
My log analysis software vehicle was the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet. I had developed a knowledge-based spreadsheet as early as 1985 to prototype some of the expert system concepts that were to go into LOG/MATE ESP ASSISTANT.
With the rapid growth in power of IBM-PC’s, my META/LOG PROFESSIONAL spreadsheets became very practical and I still use it today. Copies were sold as a stand-alone program for a number of years and it is now available as shareware on my website.
The “ Only Case Struyk noticed that
Meta/Log was an anagram for Log/Mate - even I didn't notice until he
Only Case Struyk noticed that Meta/Log was an anagram for Log/Mate - even I didn't notice until he mentioned it.
The depth plotting program, LAS/PLOT, was written at my request by Bill Clow in 1987, based on the features of the original LOG/MATE program. About 50 META/LOG + LAS/PLOT packages were sold before other low-cost software hit the market. Active marketing of software ceased in 1991 when the consulting practice became too busy to warrant the time needed for demos and installs.
Participation in technical societies is an inevitable activity for a consultant. It is a basic marketing tool, as well as being instructive. I let memberships in CIM and CSEG lapse some years ago, but maintain a close kinship with the CWLS. A member for many years, I became active in 1980 - 82 as Publications Chairman, then Treasurer, and then President for 1990-1991, and was elected an Honourary Member in 1994. I still contribute technical and general interest articles to CWLS publications.
several trips to
was just after a killer typhoon with more than 100,000 dead littering
the swamp that is
On another trip, I visited a logging job about 70 Km from Dakka – we were obliged to be back before dark to avoid bandits. In Dakka, we visited the old fort overlooking the harbour, toured several markets, and watched while folks from one political party threw a pipe bomb into the offices of the opposition party. The newspaper next day said only two people died.
a few miles from new Dhaka, is a fascinating ghost town with ancient Victorian
era brick buildings, some with miniature busts of Queen
On my last trip out of Bangladesh, I was without a seeing-eye guide. I had the airports pretty well memorized by now and knew where to find the business-class lounge in Bangkok. Approaching the lounge, I saw a flight attendant standing at the door and had a nice, albeit one-sided, conversation with her before entering. Turned out she was a cardboard cutout - so much for flying on my own!
To illustrate how small the world really is, one of the Canadian consulate staffers in Dhaka had been a student of my accountant in Calgary. Further, my brother and sister-in-law both traveled to Bangladesh on business, meeting with the same man, and eventually becoming good friends.
were more harrowing –
On approaching Kuwait City, the 747 driver tried to do a straight in approach in a sand storm with a 60 mph tail wind. The undercarriage wasn’t tall enough to touch the ground, so we took off again, right over the Sheraton Hotel. We made headlines the next morning when it was reported that Flight 107 nearly hit the hotel and knocked down the chandeliers in the roof top dining room.
the pilot made a left turn over
of the offshore fractured granite reservoir at Bach Ho (White
The courses and presentations were given in English and translated first into Russian, then from Russian into Vietnamese, a pretty slow process. Not too much technology was delivered through this heavy filter. I have done a number of courses through both sequential and simultaneous translation, but this was by far the most bizarre.
With daily power failures and condensation running down inside the computers, work was also slow, but we got it done on time and within budget, thanks to a concerted effort by Bill Clow, Craig Lamb, and Michael Fung.
There was a total eclipse of the sun while I was there – the entire city shut down and children were kept indoors in case evil spirits snuck out to roam free. It was a very eerie scene in an otherwise bustling tropical city.
demonstrations and the bustle of the Suk
demand a careful approach. And a Maple Leaf pinned to the lapel
seems to help us from being equated with the evil
many less eventful trips, but en-garde
was the watchword:
Several trips were made to Caracas, but we
only saw the downtown core in daylight. On others, we never saw daylight – we
landed at night, went to the office before sunup, went back to
the hotel after sunset, and left at night. Some people think traveling
is glamourous and exciting.
Business travel is not terribly relaxing, especially when security procedures get slower and more idiotic every year. I have spent a lot of very boring hours in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Narita, Heathrow, Frankfort, even Miami, Houston and Denver, waiting on weather, dead airplanes, or bad connections. It is rare to have enough guaranteed free time to be a tourist.
Although most trips are in-and-out without sightseeing, I did get to Merida and then to the highest point on the Trans-Andean Highway (4100+ meters) on a weekend stop-over between Caracas and Maracaibo.
In the fall of 1995, my wife and I took another nice vacation
– three weeks in
Divorce began three weeks after we returned. My wife tried a sneak
end-run first. I was on my way to
justice in 1995, President Clinton's universal medicare bill was
defeated, O. J. Simpson was acquitted, and a government building in
Oklahoma City was bombed by home-grown terrorists, killing 189
people. So much for "truth and justice for all".
Flying On My Own – Still Travelling
Numerous jobs with 300 to 3000 wells each have been run for resource potential or reservoir properties assessment. We call the QC function SUPERLOG and the processing phase LOGFUSION.
Prototyping of each project is done with META/LOG, where parameters are optimized to give results that match core. Independently, stratigraphy, hydrodynamic, and production data are correlated and mapped by other members of the project team, then the log analysis results are generated, compared to ground truth, and mapped. Smaller jobs are still run in META/LOG without the hassle of database programs and inflexible hard-coded software.
materials I had developed over the years
became a hardcover textbook in 1986. A book needs more discipline
than a set of course notes. I think I struck a happy medium position
with “The Log Analysis Handbook”, based on my first
20 years of experience in petrophysics and software development.
It was published by Pennwell and was a hard sell to the
publisher because I insisted that the math be computer-ready instead
of in academic style. Those who do real log analysis loved it
– those with more academic approaches were cool.
But books are obsolete - dead as the dodo main-frame computers of the 1960's. A technical book is 2 years out of date before it hits Amazon and 12 years out of date before the second edition surfaces. Responsible use of the Internet can solve this, but it takes a lot of self-discipline and uncounted hours of hard work rto make it happen. Constant and timely updates, colour llustrations, support software, and interaction with the author make the Web the only practical tool for publishing in the current era.
In 2001, “Crain’s Petrophysical Handbook – 3rd
Millennium Edition” became available on the Internet
and on CD-ROM. It is an innovative approach to make petrophysics
more accessible to everyone. Forty years of
experience, 300 topics, hundreds of case
histories, computer ready math, and instant updates make this
venture truly unique in technical publishing.
Version 3.12 of the Handbook was uploaded for 2012, with even
wider coverage of the field of Integrated Petrophysics. The eBook is
now augmented by 38 audio-visual narrated lectures and 10
pretty-print eText Reference Manuals, for those who insist on the
tangible feel of real paper.
Version 3.12 of the Handbook was uploaded for 2012, with even wider coverage of the field of Integrated Petrophysics. The eBook is now augmented by 38 audio-visual narrated lectures and 10 pretty-print eText Reference Manuals, for those who insist on the tangible feel of real paper.
Where were you on 11 September 2001? I was
starting a seminar at Teknica in Calgary an hour after watching the
second plane smash into the Twin Towers. Totally unreal and
unbelievable! But it was real. Needless to say, we didn't
get a lot done that day, or for some time thereafter. Hindsight
shows that nearly 3000 people died, including the passengers and
crew of four airliners,
firefighters and rescue workers, and early morning office workers in
New York and the Pentagon.
Where were you on 11 September 2001? I was starting a seminar at Teknica in Calgary an hour after watching the second plane smash into the Twin Towers. Totally unreal and unbelievable! But it was real. Needless to say, we didn't get a lot done that day, or for some time thereafter. Hindsight shows that nearly 3000 people died, including the passengers and crew of four airliners, firefighters and rescue workers, and early morning office workers in New York and the Pentagon.
If you thought it was all about oil, you were probably right.
More t han 4000 soldiers from many nations, 300,000 Iraqi's and
uncounted 1000's of Afghans have been killed since that day. Where is another Kennedy
when you need him? The repercussions are still rippling around
the world, causing enormous expense in ineffective security measures,
loss of liberty and freedom for many,
loss of productivity, and exhausting delays for air travelers. Kind o counter-productive,
I think. But all this should be a good incentive for more
han 4000 soldiers from many nations, 300,000 Iraqi's and uncounted 1000's of Afghans have been killed since that day. Where is another Kennedy when you need him?
The repercussions are still rippling around the world, causing enormous expense in ineffective security measures, loss of liberty and freedom for many, loss of productivity, and exhausting delays for air travelers. Kind o counter-productive, I think. But all this should be a good incentive for more telecommuting.
Canadian Foreign Affairs website says "Don't Go!" but I went anyway,
with Denis Briere as assistant instructor and seeing-eye person. The
folks in Bogota were generous and showed us the city and its
excellent restaurants. At our first cafe, the ringing melody of
Murray McLaughlin's "Snow Bird" was blasting from the loudspeakers,
with a tiny hint of a Spanish accent. The course flowed smoothly
with the help of two excellent simultaneous translators and Denis's
command of technical Spanish.
The Canadian Foreign Affairs website says "Don't Go!" but I went anyway, with Denis Briere as assistant instructor and seeing-eye person. The folks in Bogota were generous and showed us the city and its excellent restaurants. At our first cafe, the ringing melody of Murray McLaughlin's "Snow Bird" was blasting from the loudspeakers, with a tiny hint of a Spanish accent. The course flowed smoothly with the help of two excellent simultaneous translators and Denis's command of technical Spanish.
In 2005, Dr. Rob Stewart at University of Calgary
invited me to assist in curriculum
design and presentation for a new Petrophysics course for 3rd
year geology and geophysics students. The course is still
evolving and growing more coherent each year. About 90 students a year
go through my labs and lectures, as well as those of 3 other
instructors. Young and naive about the reality
of the oil industry, I hope this exposure will reinforce the need
for integrated petrophysics in their future careers. My involvement
ended in 2008 when Rob moved to Houston.
In 2005, Dr. Rob Stewart at University of Calgary
invited me to assist in curriculum
design and presentation for a new Petrophysics course for 3rd
year geology and geophysics students. The course is still
evolving and growing more coherent each year. About 90 students a year
go through my labs and lectures, as well as those of 3 other
instructors. Young and naive about the reality
of the oil industry, I hope this exposure will reinforce the need
for integrated petrophysics in their future careers. My involvement
ended in 2008 when Rob moved to Houston.
In most democracies, the "ayes" have it. In my case, the eyes have had it, so my consulting and teaching gigs ended at the end of 2015. The low oil price and worldwide layoffs that reduced "external costs" to near zero helped push this decision. Retirement is great -- fewer deadlines, less paperwork, no data qualty quagmires. What's not to like?
My career in a nutshell: a lot of cities and countries, a lot of rig camps and hotels, lots of Arctic cold and some desert heat, more hurry-up and wait, long hours and short pleasures for 54 years, Add 35 concurrent years as a rancher, with some time off to play with model trains, you have a pretty full picture of my life. Vision loss be damned!
Going Home - Briefly
Previous commitments meant I could not attend the McGill Engineering "Class of 62" 50th anniversary reunion in October, but Bob Smythe, an old school chum, escorted me around McGill, commenting knowledgably on all the changes and additions. The lower campus still feels like the refuge it has always been. New and renovated buildings push outward on the perimeter. Activists are still active, freshmen looking lost still troop the pathways. Afterward, we checked out Westmount and Mont Royal lookouts to compare the skyline with old postcard views from the 1950's. Later that day, we relived the family outing to Chalet BBQ on Sherbrooke St West -- menu, flavour, location, and staff (or their clones) unchanged since 1944. "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose".
The best memory brought back in force was the ride on the "Gold Car", an open-air sightseeing streetcar at ExpoRail (Canada's Railway Museum) that used to run in summer in Montreal. This was our favourite outing when we were kids in the 1940's and 50's. The ride, and the tour of the Museum, was escorted by Steve Cheasley, the museum President, who generously provided a personalized commentary on the background and significance of each exhibit. It was a wonderful re-visit to the railways of my youth, all the way back to my grandparents early days, with some of the best restorations in the world on display.
A few maples were just
beginning to redden, the weather was clear and mild, and the train
trips across half the continent were very restful.
I thought I would feel more nostalgic, even sad, to see these
memories brought to life again, but it was - thankfully - really
pleasant. They say "you can't go home again", but
this trip was pretty close. Like the airline pilots say before
landing in New Zealand, "Set your watches back 40 years"
is in that time zone too.
The Vehicles In My Life
The Critters In My Life