Myth-busting well data information systems: WITSML vs OSDU

Myth-busting well data information systems: WITSML vs OSDU

December 12, 2022
Time to read: 8 minutes
Morten Hansen

Various industry data programs are used to service different parts of this overall goal. The Wellsite Information Transfer Standard Markup Language (WITSML) is an established and broadly adopted standard, while The Open Group's Open Subsurface Data Universe (OSDU) Forum has rapidly expanded its reach and capabilities in this space. But how do these systems work together? What are the benefits of both, and how does Kongsberg Digital interact with them?

Kongsberg Digital has a proud history of contributing to and delivering on industry standards. We delivered pioneer implementations of both WITSML and the Energistics Transfer Protocol (ETP) In our SiteCom® product. We have been a member of the WITSML special interest group (SIG) since its beginning and of the The Open Group and OSDU Forum since 2020. Kongsberg Digital actively uses and contributes to these standards throughout its operations.

We've collated some frequently asked questions on WITSML and OSDU, to answer queries you may have on well data management.

What is WITSML?

WITSML is the result of an industry initiative to deliver an open, non-proprietary, standard interface for exchanging well data. It is one of three "ML" standards provided by former Energistics, now part of The Open Group. A common part of these standards is ETP - a WebSocket based transport layer and standardized API used to exchange data with low latency and low bandwidth.

These standards make the seamless integration of drilling technologies possible, enabling near-real-time drilling optimization and realizing the benefits of the digital oilfield. Thereby also providing environments for the configuration and running of advanced optimization processes.[1]

Industry feedback for WITSML has revealed that it is often difficult to implement and roll out through organizations. However, through integrated industrial platforms and work surfaces like Kongsberg Digital's SiteCom, WITSML remains a relevant industry tool and the master sources of wellsite real-time drilling data.

What is The Open Group and what is the OSDU Forum?

“The Open Group is a global consortium that enables business objectives through technology standards. With more than 870 member organizations, its diverse members span the technology community - from systems and solutions suppliers, tool vendors and integrators, to consultants, academics, and researchers.“[2]

“The Open Group's OSDU Forum delivers an open source, standards-based, technology-agnostic data platform for the energy industry that stimulates innovation, industrializes data management, and reduces time to market for new solutions. The forum aims to reduce data silos to enable transformational workflows, accelerate the deployment of emerging digital solutions for better decision making and create an open, standards-based ecosystem that drives innovation for the energy industry."[3]

In real terms, The Open Group and The OSDU Forum forms the most important umbrella organisation for driving development of industry standards and interoperable, working code within the Wells and Subsurface domain.

What are the main differences between WITSML and the OSDU Forum and how do they work together?

WITSML is a well-centric data transfer standard. The OSDU Forum is an industry consortium defining a cloud-based reference architecture with data standards and developing working code.

WITSML and OSDU are not competing standards. WITSML data will be ingested into the OSDU Forum's 'data lake'. WITSML version 2.1 is harmonized and compatible OSDU data model. This is the tool required for easy integration between WITSML data repositories and OSDU.

The large repositories of WITSML data captured over decades represents a formidable data source for OSDU and its contextual and analytical capabilities.

With its industry-wide adoption and position as a robust capture of wellsite real-time data, WITSML and ETP's importance will continue in this value chain.

OSDU and WITSML/ETP will co-exist going forward, and the industry can expect to see increasing benefits as the industry platforms integrate and data semantics standards expand.

How can Kongsberg Digital support customers taking advantage of both platforms?

Kongsberg Digital will support data sharing across both systems. Customers will be able to choose the best from both worlds, with support for adoption and converting practices available.The prevailing version of WITSML data transferred from wellsites today is (with as a significant second). There has been practically no uptake of WITSML version 2.0 since its release in 2016. Too few improvements (relative to with ETP) have given companies an unattractive cost to benefit ratio and a doubtful return on investment. Early adopters have been few and unsuccessful. The lack of 2.0 adoption has been WITSML's Achilles heel for six years.With the 2.1 release and it's OSDU harmonization, the value delivery increases. Further, the lessons learned from 2.0 has given 2.1 some much needed improvements. However, the breaking changes between the 1.x and 2.x standards are still there and have to be addressed before the current and historical WITSML data can be utilized to the fullest extent in an OSDU context.Kongsberg Digital has WITSML's 2.1 version in development in SiteCom and will release it in 2023. A major part of the project is facilitating a predictable and easy migration for our existing customers, many of who have terabytes (TBs) of WITSML data from several thousand historical well.We believe WITSML and ETP 1.1 will be the dominant standards in the short and medium term. We also believe WITSML 2.1 will be adopted and prevail in the end. The speed of this transition is uncertain. It will be highly influenced by the industry's joint decisions (e.g. in The Open Group and in OGDQ) and by the adoption timelines of the individual operators. The speed will also be fueled by products and innovations in the OSDU Forum's space relying on WITSML data.

Do you have any predictions for how the OSDU Forum may evolve further in future?

Any progress towards a standardized platform tends to be challenging and slow moving. It is based on consensus among many stakeholders and driven by companies volunteering to contribute. OSDU has a large community and currently has a lot of attention: it will play an important role in the industry as a driver for technological development and the provision of innovative products and applications.Kongsberg Digital will fuel this progress:

  • We will continue to be a real time aggregator of well data, using WITSML and our SiteCom platform.
  • We will expose SiteCom's well data to OSDU services as per OSDU Forum standards.
  • We will aggressively use OSDU services to enrich data contextualisation in SiteCom.
  • We will aggressively use the resulting enriched repository to innovate further on our visualisation and analytical capabilities.
  • We see The Open Group and The OSDU Forum as strong communities and a platform for new partnerships - creating synergetic value adds to the industry.

It's not a question of WITSML OR OSDU, rather of WITSML AND OSDU.

Learn more about kognitwin

Imagine having access to all real-time data from the oil & gas asset in one place through a simple virtual interface. We call it Kognitwin®.

About the author

Myth-busting well data information systems: WITSML vs OSDU

Morten Hansen

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