Professional Petroleum Data Management Association
The Professional Petroleum Data Management Association (PPDM Association) is a global, not-for-profit organization that works collaboratively within the petroleum industry to create and promote standards and best practices for data management. The Association’s vision is the global adoption of data management standards and best practices throughout the upstream (exploration and production) petroleum industry.
The focus of the Association is:
- Continued development and support of the PPDM data model
- Standard or baseline definitions of essential terminology
- Best practices for developing a data governance strategy
- Education and training around data management standards
- Certification for E&P (exploration and production) data management professionals.
PPDM and the Need to Organize Petroleum Data
Historically, petroleum data has been managed and analyzed using many different proprietary systems. These systems are typically built based on local terminology and business needs, and use different practices for identifying, gathering, transferring and interpreting information. A typical operating company may use dozens (or even hundreds) of software applications. Each department is tuned to the needs of different segments of the company; production accounting, field operations, seismic exploration, reserves management and financial departments all store information about wells in their respective software applications.
In 1989, one Calgary-based oil company and several of its software suppliers recognized that a non-proprietary data model was preferable to separate and private models. The creation of a comprehensive data model is an expensive and lengthy process. A private data model precludes the purchase of third-party software and other data-dependent services, without expensive customization. Therefore, a group of technical experts began work on a “public” model, and other companies responded to the invitation to participate.
As the model developed, more companies accepted the concept of non-competitive collaboration and recognized that there is little competitive advantage to using an exclusive private data model. In 1991 the cooperative workgroup was incorporated in Alberta as a not-for-profit society, the Public Petroleum Data Model Association.
The initial data modeling efforts were on the requirements for well data in a relational database management system. Throughout the 1990s, the scope expanded to land rights, seismic surveys, well production and reserves, stratigraphy, records management, etc. Version 3.8 of the PPDM Model, released in 2008, covers 53 subject areas and has over 1700 tables.
In 2008, the name was changed to the Professional Petroleum Data Management Association. This acknowledges the expansion of the products and services beyond just the data model, and emphasizes the focus on developing the professional practice of data management for the petroleum industry.
The Data Model
The PPDM Model is suitable for a master data management system. The specifications DDL are provided for use in Oracle and SQL Server systems. In addition, the modular design allows selected portions to be used in business-specific databases and applications.
Although it was originally called a public model, it was never freely distributed by the Association. “Public” always meant “non-proprietary” not “free.” The way to get the Model was (and still is) to become a member of the Association. However, many non-members around the world continue to use versions or adaptations of the PPDM model, usually because the model is embedded in a database or application purchased from a software provider. PPDM Lite, a simplified model based on Version 3.7, is available free to any registered user on the PPDM website.
The PPDM Model is a set of specifications for creating a relational database. It is NOT a set of data for the petroleum industry. By analogy, the model is only the blueprint for a huge pigeon loft (birdhouse); it does not have birds already in the pigeon-holes. However, the Model contains a vast amount of knowledge about the industry’s business practices (how the data are acquired and used.) The Association estimates that Version 3.8 represents over $100 million of invested funds and human resources since inception.
The PPDM Association is a member-based society. Membership is open to corporations and individuals from around the world. The membership fee structure is based on the member’s financial size (revenues.) Over half the annual revenue is from companies based in the USA; the balance is from Canada and the rest of the world. Associate membership is available to individuals.
Most of the activities of the Association are financed by the annual membership fees and carried out by people who work for the member companies. Special projects are funded by sponsoring companies who provide additional funds and specialist personnel. The Association’s office in Calgary has a small staff for technical support, communication, and administration.
The members are represented by a board of directors. Each director is elected by the members to a term of two years (renewable.) They are mainly from large oil companies and software or data vendors.
Product Development Process
The real power of the Association, and the quality of its products, is rooted in the cooperative approach to development, “The PPDM Way.” When several members recognize a data management need (e.g. expand the data model to a new subject area, or promote best practices for data governance), a draft charter is prepared. If the charter is approved by the PPDM board of directors, and sufficient resources are committed by the members, a workgroup is formed.
Companies supply the workgroup participants who identify the business requirements in detail, and develop the technical solutions. Workgroup meetings are typically spread out over a year or more because the participants continue to be active in their regular employment.
Semantic misunderstanding causes data errors and mistakes in analysis of the data. In 2009, the PPDM Association developed a set of baseline definitions for a "Well" and its main components. These definitions are useful for comparison with the specific definitions used by key industry data providers, aggregators, and operating companies. The "What Is A Well?"  definitions are a "Rosetta stone" framework for the petroleum industry.
- PPDM website ["http://www.ppdm.org/about-ppdm"], PPDM website, December, 2011, accessed December 2, 2011.
- First Break Magazine ["http://www.ppdm.org/resources/resource-index/2010/09/13/standards-based-knowledge-environments-for-the-oil-and-gas-industry"], First Break, January, 2005, accessed January 19, 2011.
- PPDM website ["http://www.ppdm.org/ppdm-standards/ppdm-3-8-data-model"], PPDM Version 3.8 Data Model, December, 2011, accessed December 2, 2011.
- PPDM website ["http://www.ppdm.org/work-groups/what-is-a-well"], What Is A Well? website, December, 2011, accessed December 2, 2011.