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Jessica Bird

Sr Engineering Technologist and Reporting Specialist at Black Stone Minerals, L.P.

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I attended the First Annual PHDwin Week.

2020 had been all kinds of crazy, in so many ways. So, by “attending”, we all know I mean from my computer, in my office, from home. I’ve organized large events before, coordinating presenters, gathering topics, working logistics, and all the things that go along with pulling off an event such as this. It’s hard work. It’s really hard work. Yet, among all the crazy of 2020, all the cancellations of events, all the moves to “virtual on-demand” conferences, the team at TRC Consultants gathered up their courage, pulled up their bootstraps, and launched not just an online conference – the first inaugural conference. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, that takes a lot of moxie.

I’ve been in the oil and gas industry going on twenty years now. I’ve worked my way through various positions over those years and have a large variety of software experience and skills in my personal toolbox. I strive to learn something new every day, no matter how small, and to challenge myself daily to be better than I was yesterday. I self-educate daily. I hold myself to high standards, and I expect everyone around me to give their best. In my office, above my desk I taped a quote many years ago, and it reads:

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” – Red Adair

I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Adair back in the ’90s, just before the Kuwait fires. He had a lot of moxie. Watching him on the news at night, out there extinguishing those fires…. unbelievable.

What does this have to do with PHDwin week? One would think nothing – but “nothing” cannot be further from the truth.

The new features, the data discipline – I am impressed. And PetroVisual? I didn’t see that one coming, but I’m certainly going to be one of the first ones to jump in feet first.

v3 has harnessed the power of data discipline and data integrity more than any other software I’ve seen to date. The controls and features available within the software, if optimized by the user, will greatly empower companies to harness their full potential, streamline processes, and focus on the data optimization. Data maintenance processes (production, test data, economic parameters, etc.) can become more fluid, less time intensive with fewer potential audit deficiency points. Reporting, from well level to SEC Reserves Reporting will be more accurate at all levels – well to unit to corporate – and with fewer QC points necessary. Engineers will be able to harness faster processing times combined with the newer features such as the normalized curves and scenarios to produce more accurate answers with quick response times. Presentation materials will become a breeze to assemble.

From the larger public companies to the small shops, TRC is setting everyone up for success. Don’t build for where you are, build for where you want to be.

Current clients have access to v2 and v3, embrace the opportunity! v3 is like a pair of new shoes. You must wear them, break them in on a few short walks before you take them out on a long hike. Take v3 on a few short walks. Upgrade a copy of your v2, review the error messages you will probably get. Use them as a guide to work on data discipline in the here and now, make the needed adjustments in v2. Navigate around v3, look at where your v2 data went, pay attention to the data flow. See what new features exist. More importantly, see what doesn’t. Anything taken away in today’s install of v3, is for the good of the client. “The Future of PHDWin”4 shows us the roadmap for the future. They will bring back some of the features, they will add to the foundations they have built. But they will do it the right way, with data integrity. As David said in one of the Q&A sessions, they’re “putting the genie back in the bottle” on some things. The captain and lead crew of starship TRC are engineers and industry professionals. Their prospective is our prospective. So many times, over the years I’ve heard developers utter – “I don’t care about the data, just where it goes.” To know where it goes, you must care about the data.

For any of you out there wondering why you should stick with TRC and PHDwin instead of jump ship, or you have nervous shivers up your spine thinking of converting from v2 to v3 – stick with them and do it. If you stick with them, they’ll stick with you. What stands them apart? They listen. They genuinely care about their software doing what WE, the techs and engineers in the industry, need it to do – without the loss of data integrity or accuracy. They aren’t just going to pile on new features and big shiny new bells and whistles. As John, I believe it was, said in one of the Q&A’s – this isn’t the finish line, it’s the starting line. The partnerships they have made, and their roadmap for the future of v3, they’ve set themselves, and the industry, up for huge success.

They did not disappoint!

I tip my hat to them for pushing through the hard times, taking a solid stance on maintaining the data integrity while providing new features, taking heat from the industry over delays, and never giving up on the vision.

TRC Consultants launched PHDWin v2 around 19971

In 1997, around the same time, I was only a few years out of high school and realizing the career path I thought I had wanted for as long as I could remember, wasn’t what I really wanted. By 2000 I was working as an assistant in the Belle Chasse, Louisiana offices of Grand Isle Shipyard – reading incoming daily drilling reports, logging them into a DOS computer system, and going back and forth with the rigs over their reporting discrepancies. In the Spring of 2002, I took a job with a small E&P in Shreveport, Louisiana closer to family.

Within the first month on the job I was indoctrinated into the world of PHDWin. I can remember my first phone call to support all those years ago. I was tasked with installing the software on my computer and accessing the PHD file my boss had been working on and make some updates to it. It was the first real task I had been given besides filing papers, and I really didn’t want to mess it up! I have no idea who the support person was on the other end of the phone that day, but I’m almost certain they thought I was the biggest idiot ever. Turns out, back then, a bona fide problem with software – was the length of the file name and file path!! I literally just had to shorten the file name and path.

By the end of that day I had printed the entire help manual – page by page – and read it cover to cover. And let me tell you, file/file path size restrictions weren’t in it!

Fast forward a few years and I was moved to Houston, Texas, the Energy Capital of the World. I outpaced my boss, the company was busting at the seams with growth, and I’m the only Production and Reserves Tech in house. PHDWin 2.0 is my world. Reserves, Production Allocations, Reconciliations, 10Ks, FAS69, Tax Allocations reports, EIA reports – I was drinking from a fire hose and drowning. Struggling to make PHDWin work for me with all the things I needed to accomplish. I made a LOT of calls to support.

PHDRMS v1 was in development 1. It sounded like it was going to be a great solution to a lot of my data reconciliation issues and I was EXCITED. All I had to do was start wrangling in the data discipline side of things and feed it into RMS, making reconciling a breeze. Well, the data discipline thing turned out to be the hardest part. Have you ever tried to convince an entire company to streamline nomenclature? Set convention standards?

In the meantime, drilling rigs are dotting the landscape of Northwest Louisiana daily. Rig counts are rising, and the Cotton Valley Trend is in full swing. Conventional wells were spud in at a rapid-fire pace. The Hosston was uneconomical on its own, but produced with the Cotton Valley, it worked at the economics of the time. Dual completions abounded.

Single completions became duals, and dual completions became commingles, and the next thing I know, everything is crossing streams. Everyone knows “Don’t cross the streams!”. PHDwin is blowing up. RMS is blowing up. My one case is now two, and my two cases are now one, and my head is spinning. Call after call to support. Emails and diagrams and phone calls, I feared the day they were going to grow tired of me and stop answering. I just knew the sheer verbalization of my name sent shivers up their spines.

Instead, they scheduled a meeting, drove up from Austin, and spent an entire day in my office, watching my workflow, taking notes, drawing diagrams with me, and asking a gazillion questions. And that, my friends, was the inception date of what was then known as “Splits and Merges”. I use that terminology to this day. TRC literally built functionality into RMS based off crazy hand drawn diagrams and a desire to make a concept work.

That was the turning point for me. That was the day I became TRC’s # 1 fan.

Here we are, over 15 years later. I was around when PHD v3 was no more than an idea they were tossing around amongst themselves. I would have occasional phone conversations with them where we basically threw spaghetti at the wall to see what stuck. I thought it was a great idea, the concepts they had were by and far some of the best I’d heard to that point.

When they started working on PHDwin v3 in earnest, I was no longer at the E&P. I had accepted a position at Black Stone Minerals in the Spring of 2010. BSM was transitioning from a private minerals investment funding structure to direct acquisitions of minerals (2). I was brought in to help with database management and data discipline during acquisitions.

As of October 2020, BSM holds over 20 million acres, with assets in over 40 states and 60 productive basins 3.. Ten years ago, my journey with Black Stone started about the same time TRC’s development journey of v3 did. And if they thought I had a head scratcher with Splits and Merges….. I was drinking from the big fire hose now! I went from working with around three thousand cases in a single database to three times that in multiple databases. Creating continuity between datasets, organizing data, streamlining processes – whewwww. And all we’ve done since is grow the portfolio.

The entire time, TRC has stuck with me, and I them. They put up with me more than they probably should have. I have walked the v3 journey with them in many ways. I have stood by them, stuck with them, and stood up for them over the last ten years. We’ve had many a think tank discussion and I had faith in their vision for v3.

“The secret is not to give up hope. It’s very hard not to because if you’re really doing something worthwhile, I think you will be pushed to the brink of hopelessness before you come through the other side.”

“You can’t do it unless you imagine it.” – George Lucas

1 David Pacinda, President and Founder, TRC Consultants; “TRC Consultants, LC – History and PHDWin Timeline”; Presentation: Welcome 1st ANNUAL PHDWin WEEK”

2 https://www.blackstoneminerals.com/about-us/our-history

3 https://www.blackstoneminerals.com

4 Josh Neese, Special Projects, Presentation: “The Future of PHDWin”

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