Technology has revolutionized the ways by which we access information and learn about topics that interest us. The emergence of mobile devices, information-sharing platforms, and apps have streamlined the conventional methods of learning and knowledge transfer. One of the most notable changes is the replacement of textbooks and encyclopedias with web-based knowledge-sharing portals such as SPE’s PetroWiki—a digital portal for oil- and gas-related technical information.
PetroWiki.org is a living, growing knowledge resource for oil and gas professionals, featuring more than 2,000 pages of content. Information about a topic can be easily gathered by entering the keyword in the search box. In addition, the site features Google Translate, smart search, and social media tools, all of which further increase user engagement. The initial content of PetroWiki was SPE’s seven volumes of the Petroleum Engineering Handbook (PEH), published in 2006–2007.
“As technology advanced, we needed to include more information in the PEH and it grew to seven volumes. Even then, we had to be selective about the content because of page constraints. It was clear future updates would have to be digital,” said Glenda Smith, vice president of communications at SPE, who oversaw the successful launch of PetroWiki. This digital version preserves the PEH content, but also allows SPE members to update and expand content from the published version. With PetroWiki, SPE has created a portal to gather information on latest technologies and share it with members without the time lag or page limitations associated with print media.
The website currently averages 225,000 visitors per month, and according to Google Analytics, its use is on the rise.
The pending retirement of senior staff in the industry and the need to accelerate competency development for incoming workers make it essential to capture existing knowledge and experience in an efficient and systematic way. While several companies are addressing this issue through internal knowledge management systems, many others are either struggling or are only at the planning stage. SPE has developed PetroWiki for the benefit of the entire industry. Companies with existing systems can also benefit by having access to the collective experience across the industry that is available in PetroWiki.
“The people joining our industry now are of the ‘Google Generation’ and their first action to find information is to Google it. With PetroWiki, they will now easily get the right information about the industry quickly. I also love how outstanding papers and webinars are linked into PetroWiki content to provide other media sources as well,” said Shauna Noonan, former SPE technical director for production and operations, and a current moderator for PetroWiki.
Those who have entered the industry without a technical background in core petroleum studies might recall struggles in early months to keep up with more experienced counterparts in conversations riddled with unfamiliar acronyms and terms. PetroWiki can help young professionals develop a competitive advantage by enabling the user to learn about common oilfield vocabulary and the latest technologies, and act as an on-the-job resource.
As the industry’s first fully moderated wiki on exploration and production (E&P), the content represents every major E&P discipline, making the site a valuable industry resource for a variety of industry professionals. New content can be added and existing content can be edited by users, which enables including information on the latest technologies and concepts as they are being applied by the industry. To ensure that the content is technically sound, contributions to the site are limited to SPE members, and all material uploaded to PetroWiki is reviewed for accuracy and correctness by two SPE members with expertise in the subject matter. Called Page Champions, these moderators review new content using a process roughly similar to the peer review of technical papers. They can accept or reject a change, or add additional resources to enhance the newly added content, which ensures the accuracy of information.
By launching PetroWiki “we’ve created a valuable resource for our members and the industry we serve,” said Smith, who saw growing use of the tool among students even during the pilot phase. “In a few years those students will be joining the industry, already familiar with PetroWiki as a valued resource.”
For those who use the site, the benefits of having easy access to a wealth of petroleum-related expertise is both obvious and invaluable. PetroWiki continues to prove to be a valuable tool for all experience levels, including students, early career professionals, and more experienced members of the industry.
|Contribute to PetroWiki|
SPE encourages members to share their knowledge and expertise with others by updating PetroWiki. You cannot “break” the Wiki. Follow these simple steps to get started:
Alex Hali began his tertiary studies in advanced sciences at the University of New South Wales in Australia. After completing a master’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of Sydney, he began to support the startup of a chemical distribution company while pursuing a diploma in project management. After graduating, he started his career with Baker Hughes and is currently responsible for coordinating technical projects and developing business opportunities in the Upstream Chemicals business unit throughout Australasia. Hali is a member of Baker Hughes HS&E committee, and the chairperson of the Offshore Technology Conference Asia’s The Next Wave committee.
Yogashri Pradhan is a production engineer for the Texas Oil and Gas Institute. She graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor's in petroleum engineering in 2015. At the Institute, she oversees various production and completions engineering projects in the Permian Basin. As a student member, she was involved in SPE UT Student Chapter, was a member of UT's PetroBowl team, and won the bachelor's division of the 2015 International SPE Student Paper Contest. She is the cofounder of SPE Cares, a global community service initiative aimed to unite SPE members around the world through volunteering.