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Friday, July 21, 2017

Drones for Surveys, Methane Detection, Reservoir Characterization, More

Drones are becoming an almost indispensable tool in the oil industry, especially when it is necessary to inspect land, equipment and infrastructure in hazardous or hard-to-access conditions. Drones are also important for safety and security because the information is quick, accurate, and can be easily archived. But, those applications tend to be in the mid-stream (transportation and processing) and downstream (refining and distribution) segments of the industry. But what about upstream, in the exploration and development phase of the industry? Drones are used extensively there as well; they are just more subtle, and they do not create such a ubiquitous presence. This presentation reviews the main applications of drones and UAV-derived information in upstream oil and gas, which includes drilling and operations, as well as using drones for outcrop studies that are then used to create more accurate geological models, and better reservoir characterization. Be sure to watch the video which also includes a review of quadcopters with the best flight time

This presentation covers some of the most quickly growing uses of drone / unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) uses in oil and gas exploration and development:

Site surveys in tricky terrain: Building locations, determining the best places to put the equipment and all the trucks during hydraulic fracturing, as well as positioning gates, fences, and cattle guards can be significantly expedited by using drone surveys. Seismic surveys require an evaluation of the land ahead of time. Archeological and endangered species surveys are required on many federal lands.

Oil and Gas Exploration: Direct Hydrocarbon Indicators
Surface geochemistry has been used since the very beginning: the methane seeps around the Caspian Sea in Baku, Azerbaijan, were indicators of vast reserves in the subsurface; in Tulsa “Creekology” usually meant going up the creek from where you saw an oil seep.
Now, a combination of methane seep detection and airborne gravity magnetics can be used to find “pinpoint play” reservoirs, such as pinnacle reefs in Michigan or serpentine plugs in South Texas.

Fugitive Methane Emissions
Methane detection is also used to detect fugitive emissions, which create safety hazards in pipelines and facilities.

In addition, EPA and BLM regulations require monitoring and reduction of methane emissions in oil and gas operations. While it is possible to mount static methane detectors or sniffers in compressors, gas gathering systems, and pipelines, they need to be maintained each year, and also installation can be slow. If it is necessary to install several thousand of them, the time sink can be significant. So, having airborne surveys has become a popular option. In the past, helicopters were used, because the sensors were heavy. Today, there are a number of quadcopters that have methane sensors onboard. There are different types of methane sensors, which range from sniffers, laser detectors, thermal (FLIR) with infrared, to hyperspectral.

Environmental Applications
Upstream operations must concern themselves water management, site restoration, archaeological surveys, rare / endangered species surveys, floodplain management, offshore / coastal erosion, flooding, spills, fires, and monitoring. In addition, drone surveys are useful in determining volumetrics, such as the amount of water in a pond.

Constantly Evolving Technology
Quadcopters are increasing in capacity, with longer flight times and better payloads (high-definition cameras, thermal cameras (FLIR), methane sensors, and more).  The weak link continues to be the issue of battery life: the lithium batteries average 25 minutes of flight time, and then must be recharged.

Sensors are evolving rapidly, and in the case of methane sensors, there is a rivalry among them, with spectroscopy, sniffers, optical sensors, infrared, hyperspectral, laser, and more.

Drones for Better Reservoir Characterization
Digital outcrop studies are useful in and of themselves, but when integrated with subsurface data of the same formations, the resulting models are truly surprising. They can be used to characterize reservoirs, and thus predict and depict heterogeneity, facies changes, lithology, fracture networks, and faults. The information can be used to calculate porosity and permeability, as well as to predict fluid flow and reservoir conditions.

While custom drones are used, many studies use off-the-shelf quadcopters, which are surprisingly affordable and have up to 30 minutes of flight time (bring extra batteries into the field).  

The key to developing an integrated reservoir model that includes digital outcrops and other information is developing a flexible and appropriate workflow.

  • Collect traditional information (outcrop data)
  • Digitize and georeference the conventional outcrop data
  • Collect satellite and drone-derived digital images of the same location (process and georeferenced)
  • Incorporate LIDAR (process and georeferenced)
  • Incorporate still photography (process and georeferenced)
  • Integrate all the surface data
Build a model using geocellular modeling with a program such as Schlumberger’s Petrel
After the surface digital outcrop 3D model has been created, it can be possible to find the corresponding sections and sequences in the subsurface, and then to create a cross section that reflects the seismic (synthetic seismogram) that has been correlated with the petrophysical and lithological data.  Relating the digital outcrop to the digital subsurface model can result in highly detailed seismic geomorphological models that reflect structure as well as subtle stratigraphic sequences and facies changes.

Getting started?
Drones for sale.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Loving Canvas LMS!: New Training Courses - Collaboration & Quick-Start Guide

Many colleges, universities, and training organizations are moving away from the learning management system they have used for years and are adopting Canvas.

Canvas, which is a learning management system, can also be considered a virtual learning environment (VLE) because offers cloud-based hosting and can integrate with a number of cloud applications, such as Google applications (Docs, Drive, Sheets, Slides), Microsoft 365 applications, and media hosting (YouTube, for example). In addition, Canvas encourages webinars (live and archived) by building in Big Blue Button.

Also, Canvas offers free hosting to instructors who can create their own courses (which are, in effect, MOOCs if they catch on) and offer them through Canvas’s portal.

Canvas is not as flexible as Moodle, and it does not have as many built-in templates as Moodle’s Virtual Learning Environment competitor, MoodleCloud, but it does offer remarkable simplicity.
In addition to making collaboration very easy, the SpeedGrader function in Canvas is a huge hit with students and instructors alike.

That said, changing to a new LMS can be daunting, even if you are very familiar with Blackboard, D2L, Moodle, as well as the commercial solutions.

Easing the pain of transition was one of my main goals of putting together training courses.  I also really wanted to help unlock the joy of discovery, unleashed creativity, and productive collaboration which is possible with Canvas.

Rather counter-intuitively, I started with Collaboration with Canvas.  I wanted to help students, instructors, and administrators jump in and explore the many ways in which Canvas facilitates collaboration.

People learn from each other. Moodle has long made a discussion / forum-focused approach the cornerstone of connectivist / connectionist learning theory.  Canvas embraces this approach, as people can easily share and collaborate on documents and presentations in order to create group projects and portfolios.  Also, Canvas makes it possible to use the discussion board as a blog and to subscribe to it via RSS feed.

Canvas for Collatoration
Canvas for Collaboraiton
 At any rate, I explored these and many other ways to collaborate in Canvas for Collaboration, which is a 6-unit, 30 module course:
  • How Canvas works for many different applications
  • Canvas and collaborative activities for academic applications
  • Group editing best practices
  • Using Canvas for event planning
  • Using Canvas for building a product with distributed team members
  • How to collaborate to demonstrate learning goals and compliance
  • How to assess the end products of collaborations
  • Collaborating using different types of media
  • Compliance training
Quick Start Guide for Collaboration
Quick-Start Guide for Canvas
Then, I backed up a bit and created a 6-unit, 30 module course on getting started in Canvas. Entitled Quick Start Guide for Courses in Canvas,, the objective is to provide all you need to create great courses in Canvas.

This course is a practical guide filled with examples. It covers the basic and advanced concepts of Canvas. Every recipe is as simple as possible without compromising creativity.

In this course, you can
  • See the best way to plan and design an online course
  • Discover the unique features of Canvas and how to use them
  • Get to know the best way to organize content
  • Understand how to incorporate multimedia
  • Know how to use Canvas’ social media features
  • Make sure that students achieve their learning goals and objectives
  • See different forms of assessment in Canvas
  • Use Canvas’ features to motivate and encourage students
I truly enjoyed creating the courses, and I hope that taking them and participating in them is as enjoyable for the learner.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Some of Today’s Most Profitable Quadcopter Drone Uses

Drones, in particular, quadcopters, are quickly becoming the standard way to obtain high-quality images and other data for areas that have been hard or expensive to access. There are many quadcopter on the market, and their capabilities are unfolding rapidly, and companies such as WingsLand offer a wide array of capabilities, ranging from a mini-quadcopter that can fold up and fit in one's pocket, to larger drones capable of longer flight times (check out Drones for Sale).

Small drone services providers maintain at least four drones to assure there are sufficient back-ups and also redundancy in order to cover more than one job at the same time.  Technology is changing so quickly that it’s a good idea to have a plan for quick payout of the drone (along with the cameras and sensors), along with software licenses and cloud-based storage so that you can plan to upgrade your equipment and maintain a high-quality product.

It is important to keep in mind that FAA regulations still involve a number of restrictions, and it is illegal to fly near airports, over stadiums, and in cities. There are also a number of privacy and security issues which must be considered when developing the flight plan and workflow.

You also need to have a good idea of the flight time for your drone. Which are the drones that have the longest flight time, and what payload can they carry? You must investigate this aspect very carefully. Here is a link to the longest flight time drone and others.

Photography and 3D Imaging

Real Estate:  Drone photography is used in many ways in real estate, including surveys, sales and in evaluation of projects.  In addition, drone photography is used in conducting inspections of the structures as well as the grounds.
Sales and Surveys
High-end residential
Commercial buildings, especially for planning renovations
Reconnaissance / Opportunities assessment, especially in rural or coastal areas
Acreage / ranches / development
Commercial buildings: fa├žade, windows, roof

DJI Phantom 5:  Built-in camera, easy to get started.

Events:  Drones are often used at weddings, festivals, sporting events, but the usage must be carefully planned in order to avoid legal issues. First and foremost are safety and privacy issues.  It is important to obtain signed releases from the people who will be photographed.

Natural Disasters:  Drones are extremely useful in determining the scope and impact of a natural disaster, and can be extremely helpful in identifying impassible infrastructure. They are also used in search and rescue operations, and can help identify the direction of quickly moving wildfires. Drones used are often equipped with infrared / FLIR sensors as well as high-resolution cameras.

Inspections: Equipment / Operations:  In addition to real estate inspections, drones are being used to inspect inaccessible locations and ones requiring 3D visualization.
Insurance companies: Buildings, infrastructure
Solar panel inspections
Wind turbine inspections

Infrared / FLIR / Multispectral Sensors

In addition to high-resolution photography, using sensors that allow you to detect thermal variations can help you generate false color composites from which you can extract a great deal of very useful information. Here are some of the most popular uses. It is usually a good idea to combine multispectral images with photogrammetry. 

The FLIR Duo is a new product that combines thermal and visible light imaging and has been designed for drones.  FLIR is a leader in thermal imaging, both for professional and personal use. 

Watch video:

  • Agricultural: Precision agriculture; monitoring crop health and irrigation needs.
  • Security and Surveillance:  These sensors pick up heat sources, which include bodies – human, animal, or otherwise.
  • Environmental:  Determining coastal erosion, chemical spills, the depth of water bodies, and distressed vegetation.    
  • Herd Tracking (Commercial and Feral): Have a feral hog problem? Are deer eating your favorite bushes? Drones, combined with fixed surveillance cameras / sensors can help you identify the nature of your intruders.  
  • Leak detection in buildings: Thermal signatures are used to pinpoint leaks in roofs and other structures.
  • Hydrothermal resources / hot springs (and possible affiliated mineralization): Thermal anomalies are used in identifying geothermal resources and also places with possible mineralization due to the action of hot, mineral-saturated waters. 
  • Search and Rescue:  Heat signatures can help identify individuals needing to be rescued, especially at night. 
Fugitive Gas Emissions / Hyperspectral
Hyperspectral and multispectral sensors are being used to detect fugitive methane from operations and also natural gas seeps. The process is used for methane leak detection as well as identifying possible areas where oil and gas may be found in commercial quantities.

The Future
As the equipment and sensors improve, the cloud-based 3D imaging will also improve. The spoils are for the innovative, creative, and those who clearly identify the problems that are best solved by means of drones. Of course, drones will generate their own unintended issues -- but a problem is always another opportunity.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Big Data and Deep Learning: Industry Downturn Means Uptick in New Analytics

From the Midland Register Times / April 2...
 Permian Basin operators are drilling deep and long — laterals — in order to recover more of the region’s crude and natural gas.

They’re also going deep — as in deep learning — as part of those efforts.

High-tech advances such as big data, deep learning and artificial intelligence are increasingly finding their ways into upstream exploration and production operations. For example, Exxon Mobil Corp. recently set a record for high performance computing for reservoir simulation.

Big data
Technological advances have created a wide spectrum of data for operators that goes far beyond well logs, seismic surveys and pressure readings.

“(It’s) massive amounts of data generated by different methods,” said Susan Nash, director of education and professional development with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.
 “It’s so massive it’s contained in the cloud and other ways of organizing the data.”

That data can come in structured form, as in databases, or in unstructured forms, as in emails or PDFs, anything that can be digitized, she said.

To continue, click the link:

Monday, January 30, 2017

Interview with Abbas Manjee, Kiddom: Innovators in e-learning Series

Welcome to an interview with Abbas Manjee, Kiddom. Kiddom is a new platform that helps teachers pinpoint their students' needs and to track the impact of their teaching adaptations. It's a performance-based approach to teaching, but without the pain.

1.  What is your name and your relationship to e-learning?

Name: Abbas Manjee
Role: Chief Academic Officer
Relationship to e-learning: Before Kiddom, I taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City.

2.  What is Kiddom?

Kiddom is the easiest way to plan, assess, and analyze learning. We integrate assessment, curriculum, communication, and analytics in one easy-to-use platform.

  •     Teachers save time with an integrated library of free, standards-aligned resources.
  •     Teachers access beautiful, actionable reports to pivot and tailor instruction.
  •     Teachers are able to commit more time to designing richer, engaging assessments.
  •     Teachers can provide students feedback in real-time with built-in communication tools.
3.  How did you get the idea for Kiddom? Who are the users?

Kiddom’s users vary from elementary school teachers to high school teachers: we have tens of thousands of users spanning across K-12. We also support SPED teachers (track IEP goals), homeschoolers, and school counselors (who wish to track social emotional learning standards).

Here are a few examples:

  •     A high school literacy teacher reflects on using Kiddom  
  •     A teacher submitted a personal use case on EdSurge as a case study   
  •     An elementary school teacher writes about her experience working with us 

Three years ago, I wrapped up my fourth year of teaching high school algebra in NYC. Meanwhile, my best friend Ahsan was developing mobile math games in San Francisco. I owed him a visit, so I flew out to California that summer to spend some quality time with an old friend.

Ahsan and I talked at length about my experience teaching at-risk youth and shared our thoughts on the future of education. I was more pessimistic than Ahsan; upon hearing my day-to-day challenges, he introduced me to some innovative educational technology tools coming out of Silicon Valley, most of which I had never heard of. And while I was thankful, my immediate response was not solutions-oriented: I was already working investment banker hours.

These new tools only added work. I was not incentivized to use these “gadgets” because ultimately, I would be doing the grunt work of transferring data into my school-mandated gradebook. I was already burdened with data entry, which constrained the time I had to work with my students individually. I spent hours in Excel crunching numbers to truly understand and predict my students’ achievement.

This conversation created Kiddom: a platform for teachers to integrate content, aggregate data, and use real-time analytics. Ahsan’s previous entrepreneurship experience coupled with my teaching experience will help us develop Kiddom into an indispensable tool for  teachers to meet the demands of 21st century education.

4.  What makes Kiddom different?  How does it differ from other products in the same space? 

Great teachers working with the students most in need are constrained by archaic workflows and tools that are ineffective or redundant. As a result, these teachers inefficiently spend their precious time working in and around those constraints, expediting their burnout. If these teachers could access transformative tools that could simultaneously personalize learning, expand access to content, foster collaboration, and open a channel to share best practices and resources, they could level the playing field for students, particularly those at-risk.

We’re building Kiddom to be that transformative tool. The Kiddom platform allows teachers to track student assignments along with the standards they assess for, then access a range of analytics that inform teachers which standards need more work, which students need more help, and which students should be pushed forward. In addition, we integrate the analytics with content, so if a teacher does not want to reinvent the wheel, they are free to utilize our premium, standards-aligned content library to send resources, videos, quizzes, and more directly to students. We do not define ourselves as a learning management system, because by definition, those products tend to want to keep teachers locked into their system, whereas we encourage teachers to use third-party apps and content providers directly from our platform. We’re also 100% free.

5.  What are the instructional design concepts that are incorporated in the product?

We follow and designed the Kiddom platform based on the ADDIE model.

Standards-Based Grading Guide
Social-Emotional Learning Guide

6.  How does Kiddom tie to things we know about how people learn and cognitive psychology?

We recognize the traditional teacher-centric model (GRR / “I do, We do, You do”) does not always optimize learning for individual students. GRR has its shortcomings since it erroneously assumes all students learn and work at the same pace. At the same time, teachers devote a lot of energy to keeping their entire class engaged throughout a lesson grounded in GRR. This usually proves difficult to achieve and often creates unnecessary classroom management challenges. We believe personalizing instruction within this model is a Herculean task and so we have designed our product to make learning personal, expand access to quality content, and foster community collaboration.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Fly High On Fire-Scorched Wings: Companies Re-Invent Themselves in the Delaware Basin

The Delaware Basin is the habitat of the fire-scorched Oil Phoenix, which rises from the ashes of a 3-year oil industry meltdown that has savaged companies that have held acreage, operations, and infrastructure in the costly resources plays of Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and more.

The mythical Phoenix (image credit: wikipedia)
It is also the place where companies that have invested heavily in gaining expertise in the latest techniques used in shale plays (such as the Eagle Ford) can have a tremendous pay-off, as their knowledge allows them to effectively produce a complex stacked play, that combines conventional reservoirs with resource plays. Companies such as Devon can use their knowledge and experience to bring in wells that can initially flow 6,000 bopd in the prolific sub-basin that straddles southwest Texas and southeast New Mexico reaches of the Permian Basin. The formations "stacked" in the Delaware Basin are the Delaware, Glorieta-Yeso, Bone Spring, Wolfcamp, and the Abo-Yeso.

The competition for the sweet spots in the Delaware Basin is fierce. In January alone, several massive acquisitions were announced, including WPX Energy's acquisition of Panther Energy Permian holdings for $775 million in cash, Noble Energy's acquisition of Yates Petroleum for $2.5 billion (partially debt-financed), and the record-breaking ExxonMobil's acquisition of the Bass Family's Permian assets for $5.6 billion in stock. Last September, EOG Resources bought Yates Petroleum for $2.5 billion.

The result is that there are 105 active horizontal rigs in the Permian, and the number is expected to rise as companies acquire acreage before the price of oil goes any higher, while there are still productive leases to be had.

Why invest so much in a basin where land prices have risen dramatically in the last year to in some places as much as $40,000 per acre?

The answer has to do with the persistently low price of oil and the presence of stacked pays. The Delaware Basin is one of the only places in the U.S. where companies can drill, complete, and produce at a relatively low price. In some cases, some operators are able to make money even at $25 per bbl.   With companies able to hedge at $50 per barrel through the 2nd quarter of 2018, it's all about doing efficient factory drilling, and really understanding your reservoir, which involves very detailed geological, geomechanical, and geochemical studies as well as typical reservoir simulations. Economics are based on right around 1,900 Boe/d at more than 70% oil.

So, in an environment where most experts do not expect to see oil prices rise much in 2017, the Delaware Basin is a perfect place to test just how low one can go in operating costs.

 The Delaware Basin also a great place to implement green technologies, and on any given day, you'll hear the whine of drones doing facilities inspections to detect and report fugitive methane emissions, and churn and whir of new water recycling plants.

Now, if you are one of the companies that has invested heavily in the Delaware Basin, you are going to need to learn from the successful operators. And, you're going to have to learn fast.

The quick, effective knowledge transfer from the engineers and geologists who are doing the hands-on work in the Delaware Basin is the goal of the one-day AAPG Midland Playmaker Forum to be held in Midland on February 22.  Companies such as Devon and Parsley Energy will be making presentations. Parsley will discuss how it plans to complete 120 - 140 gross operated horizontal wells (Midland and Delaware Basins) in 2017, with an average lateral length of 8,000 feet, which is 75% more lateral footage than the previous year.

So, imagine yourself as a refugee from a currently uneconomic play such as the Haynesville or the Mississippian Lime. You're currently riding on the fire-scorched wings of an Oil Phoenix ready to rise to where technology and fey luck will take it.

You yourself feel scorched from the last few years, and more than a little bit skeptical, but like all the new developments in recent times, much has to do with the mysteries of disruptive technology and innovative financing. Maybe this time you'll be one of the lucky ones.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tools and Tips for Creating Group Presentations for an Online Course or Distributed Projects

Creating presentations does not have to be a terrifying experience, and your presentation does not have to be long or detailed to be effective. The key is to be able to define your objective very clearly and to know exactly why you are making the presentation in the first place. What do you want to accomplish?

Then, as you organize your content, be sure to arrange it in a sequence that is logical and easy to follow. Keep your overall objectives in mind in each separate step.  If you are collaborating with your presentations, it may be necessary to develop a clear workflow so that your roles and responsibilities are clear, and also that you flow together.

Depending on the comfort levels of the team members, it can be possible to collaborate on a single video-enhanced presentation that you work on together. You can use a cloud-based application that allows each person to upload slides and record audio.

Or, if you want to do it the simplest possible way, you can use a cloud-based storage area such as Google Drive to upload your presentations and audio into a project folder. The individual contributions can be combined, or simply viewed sequentially.

Presentation Objective: Informational
This type of presentation involves providing definitions of topics, and it requires you to be able to place the concepts within a framework. Your presentation will have the following overall structure:
•    Main Idea / Primary Thesis
•    Definition of the concept
•    Definition of elements within the concept
•    Examples (at least two)
•    How it should work in the future

Presentation Objective: Recommendation for Plan of Action
This type of presentation requires you to both define your problem and also to formulate a strategy that is easy to follow and which is backed up by evidence and support.

•    Problem to be Solved
•    Evidence that it’s a problem
•    Why something has to be done
•    Consequences of doing nothing
•    Recommended Actions
  • Step 1
  • Step 2
  • Step 3
  • Step 4
•    Reality Check: How do we test to make sure it’s working?
•    Conclusions
Technical How-To with Free and Almost Free Video-Enhanced Online Presentations:

1.  Powerpoint with Audio: Each individual contributes to a single Powerpoint.

•    Each team member contributes content to a shared outline document
•    Final version of the shared outline is place into a PowerPoint presentation
•    Bullet points of what to cover in the script should be in the notes
•    Each individual records audio. Record directly onto the slide that you’ve been assigned.  Save as a different name and upload in a shared folder, perhaps in Google Drive or Dropbox. To record audio, use the recording function on your computer.

2.  Each person creates his / her own PowerPoint with Audio.
    The easiest approach is to create the PowerPoint and the audio separately.  You can record the audio on your phone using an app such as “Voice Recorder.” You can upload the recording to Google Drive.

•    Step 1:  Create a brief PowerPoint that covers your share of the team content
•    Step 2:  Record an audio that covers your content.
•    Step 3:  Upload both your PowerPoint and your Audio to Google Drive in a separate folder.
•    Step 4:  Share with your team members.
•    Step 5:  You can make a single PowerPoint presentation by combining the presentations. You can also combine the audio files by using Audacity or uploading them sequentially to Youtube.

3.  Each person makes a video presentation.
In this format or structure, you walk people through your presentation and audio.  Here are a few free or almost free software packages:

Recommended Free and Almost Free Presentation Software / Apps

Knovio: http:/  -- Knovio Lite allows you to upload slides and then record audio. You can save them and then download the file. It is very simple to use.

Kizoa – can easily create a presentation using photos – excellent for creating an online open house demo for real estate or discussing images

Emaze – very easy to use with many templates

Camstudio – good for creating screen captures and demos where you need to do things like point to certain features in a map.

As you can see by the number of helpful applications and the online collaboration and storage tools, there is absolutely no reason to be fearful about creating joint projects. The key is to develop a clear workflow and process that everyone on the team understands quite well. 

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