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Interview Dr. Peter Hausknecht, Chairman OGEO working group and Remote Sensing Coordinator at Woodside Energy Ltd.


From the point of view of geo-information, how can EO service industry better understand the oil & gas sector (business structure, strategy, potential growth technologies and prospects)?

There has been quite a close relationship between individual service providers and individual O&G companies, hence other companies in the industry never find out what particular services were required and confidentiality usually prevents us from communicating the exact services. In general it requires an effort on both sides to enhance the communication. If the Service Providers industry understands how the O&G industry works and what their work processes are, then they will benefit. This can be achieved through communication and working with people who know the industry. The Service Providers should be pro-active in creating new services, which can be seen as best practice and support business decisions or even improve on existing practices.

Could you please introduce how the industry collects, manages and utilises spatial information to help achieve its business goals? And what are the processes and workflows that support those geo-information activities?

There is quite a variety of models in the industry and each company applies its own solution, due to mainly historical reasons. In my company a ‘Geomatics’ team manages the data. From the initial ‘Can Earth Observation help? and if yes what should / could we use? ‘, to the collection request to the data storage; Geomatics is then also responsible for QC and delivering the products back out to the business units for their particular use. In other companies the individual projects collect and store the information (Earth Observation data, derived products, GIS info etc.) and hand it back to a corporate function at the end of the project activity. In other companies the entire service is outsourced to a service provider and handled independently. The final results and outcomes / products are returned to the company for use in the decision making process.

So there is no ‘One model fits all’ answer to your question.


The goal of the OGEO is to enable more and better business between the Oil &Gas industry and Earth Observation services industries how were the first steps of this initiative? Why to focus on facilitate the dialogue between market sectors?

The initial contacts were facilitated by ESA and brought the representatives from the OGP (Int. Assoc. of Oil and Gas Producers) together and first discussions were carried out in late 2009. Since it looked like both sides had some information deficit about the other sector, bringing them closer together seemed like a desirable outcome for both. Better information leads to better decisions – better decisions lead to better business. Facilitating an improved dialogue seemed a logical consequence and the success of our workshops has proven that. From an O&G industry we want to better utilize already existing data, services and solutions; from the Service Providers side I have heard they would like to better know what the issues are in the O&G industry and where Earth Observation could help. Both of these require communication and dialogue.

What is today the status of the OGEO group? Are you satisfied with the progress that has been made so far?

We are an informal group, but like to align ourselves closer to the OGP committees and communicate through these. There are three main groups in OGP (Environment, MetOcean and Geomatics) using earth observation (remote sensing) in different ways. Bringing these groups together and giving them an insight in the possibilities the Earth Observation technology has to offer was already a good success and exposing the Service Provider’s directly to the different topics of interest seems also to make good headways. We are often stuck in our own small little world of problems. Exposing ourselves to other people using the same technology, but with different questions, the dialogue can be fruitful. We have achieved to stimulate some of this dialogue and in that sense the progress has been good and I am sure will continue strongly.

How do you envisage future activities under the OGEO umbrella? Will annual workshops raise awareness on what has been done and what has been achieved? How do you analyse the lack of response on the participation of oil and gas industry and these initiatives? What could be done more in the group to really set up the communication and exchange forum?

We hope that the initiative will continue and further activities will find the support of the participating groups. The two workshops held so-far have been a success and seeing the papers published will give a focus and raise awareness for the decision makers in the individual company. However to reach the decision makers and allow their company re-presentatives to attend and even speak at such workshops is the challenge. We have created the OGEO-Portal as an easy to use exchange forum of information – hence once people realize how beneficial that can be, I am sure we will see an increased utilization. Some companies see themselves as early followers, they wait and see what the big ones do and then follow suit. Some of the big ones – like ExxonMobil, BP, Total, and Shell are sitting at the table and pushing this initiative ahead. But these days there are also many events and travel budgets are getting tighter and tighter – hence to have combined events and attach them to an already existing Oil & Gas meeting will increase the O&G participation

Do there exist or could there be other dialogue mechanisms that could take place with the EO service industry?

Usually one has dialogue mechanism with one or more Earth Observation companies directly and is dependent on the information they provide. Often there is not enough time in the decision making process left to do a full background research on all available technology and applications. Hence one relies on the Service Provider’s information. But not always does an individual Service Provider offer all information – especially if they do not use particular sensors, software or technologies.

The OGEO Portal / Web-forum (see explanation below) was an idea to have a new form of communication and will allow us to create a dialogue on a different level and widen the approach and the opportunities to the Service Provider industry. I would encourage the uptake of this portal as a tool to help us improve on the current status.

What would you consider to be the measure of success of the OGEO group?

As for myself I would consider it a success if we can communicate our ‘success stories’, re-utilize existing solutions, maximize the use of existing data sets and not having to reinvent the same approaches over and over again in the O&G industry. We have already seen a number of benefits from creating this initiative – mainly through increased awareness and people talking to each other who would not have met otherwise. We have already come up with new ideas and hope to see some of these being reported in future workshops.

Sharing and Learning = Communication => Change => Improved business


I understand, technology is seen as one of the key differentiators for oil companies, and an area in which the company can gain significant competitive advantage over its rivals, could you please comment on the relation with service providers, the main products and services using geo-information?

The technology advantages for a competitive edge are mainly in the exploration, development and production areas of the business. In other sections it is less of an issue. However the nature of the business has always demanded a high level of confidentiality, between a Service Provider and the industry. However in areas like Health, Safety and the Environment, the O&G industry wants to show how well they do their business and how the excel in their engagements. In these areas we can share and benefit from each other’s developments and new services being offered. The main products and services still fall under the ‘baseline mapping’ and ‘ongoing monitoring’ categories, with some products going back in time and looking at historical analysis of local or regional areas.

In your opinion, what milestones in last two decades have made an impact in the growth of EO downstream products in the oil and gas sector? Please tell us about your opinion on the possible growth of the EO service industry within the oil and gas sector. What trends your foreseen?

In the last few years the biggest impact was the availability of the high resolutions satellite images of the order of 0.5 meter. Allowing regular images and no HSE exposure – as one would have with regular aerial photo surveys. The other milestone was the MODIS instruments and all the data products and research going with it. The other key technology especially for the offshore component of the O&G industry is the radar satellites in all their wavelength and pixel sizes. With the cloud penetrating capability and the inferferometric analysis options – this was / is ‘the’, but also constantly ‘evolving’ milestone in Earth Observation for our industry.

As for the trends:

  • Reliable timeline monitoring over varying seasons and multiple years
  • Sensor integration and improved use of the archives for enhanced baseline mapping
  • Improved forecasts and supply of near real-time services from Earth Observation data
  • Fast response services for any emergency requiring situational awareness information

EARSC are providing the secretariat for the OGEO group, are there other ways for us to help the EO services industry do business with oil and gas companies?

Yes – I think to encourage all the members to utilize the opportunity to enhance the dialogue with the O&G industry is important; to encourage the use of the OGEO portal by the members and contribute whenever possible. Invite O&G industry members to Earth Observation industry events and hence get a dialogue 1st hand. Allow best practise examples to be showcased and may be work them up as an industry – not just individual companies.


Images from remote sensing satellites have been used for geological and environmental mapping since the 70´s . Today, imagery from different sensors is being used to support exploration and production activities within the oil and gas industry…but which satellite sensors you will see relevant to your services? And what type of information can EO service providers supply your sector? what is the added value of those services?.

The relevance increases with availability – what good is a high resolution satellite sensor for regular monitoring if I only get one image / year – if I may exaggerate here a bit. And what about continuity – if we start a 10 year monitoring program now and satellite sensor xyz will be switched of in three years and there is no follow on instrument – the attraction of using this data is strongly diminished. Price will be an issue – of course – but more in the sense that the overall cost: data acquisition + processing + value add + delivery to end customer needs to be set in perspective to the perceived benefit. A cost / benefit analysis will always be carried out to determine the final value for the industry.

One service will be the value added products supply of more than one image and not just the individual data set + may be one, two or more products. Datasets of interest will be: fully calibrated, geo-located, change detection applied, 1st pass analysis carried out and derived products made into GIS compatible formats. In the industry we will not try to process raw data – like we did in the 70’s – we leave that up to the Service Provider’s, but we expect good quality, easy QC’able data. The three R’s: Reliable, Repeatable and Reproducible products is what we are after.

Another service is supplying the data / products / derived GIS layers via the Internet – directly into the customers internal Web application. May be even hosting the data, back-up and guaranteed access services included.

Innovation within the oil and gas sector is usually important, can we (EO service industry and oil and gas) do take actions to bring the research and industry in both sectors together?. Do you co-operate with industry to improve and innovate in terms of your products?

2nd question 1st: Yes we do – but I cannot speak for the other companies here. We try to ask one or more companies: have you done xyz before? are there any such products you can show me or do you have a similar data set available ? We take it from there and subsequently I can show my people internally on what we could work on to derive the new products for the tasks ahead.

As for the 1st question: Yes of course – and again I mention the OGEO portal, which is a space for forums and success stories and should be utilized. There is many questions, even in my own activity radius, where we could not find an answer to whether we could use RS or not. Facilitating direct discussions like we had at the recent workshop is also very helpful to allow new innovative ideas to be bounced back and forth and stimulate the Service Provider’s to come up with new approaches.

Let me finish with one comment here on innovation: it is often confused with Research & Development – we in the O&G industry want operational services – innovative operational services, but not necessarily innovative ideas that may require 2 years of development or reach a final product. We’d like to know about them and we may help to push along, but for the day to day business they are not so relevant.


At the end of the interview, here is the opportunity for your final thoughts on your vision for the future tasks ahead for the OGEO group?

The OGEO group should establish itself as an open dialogue community, but keeping in mind the individual interests of the different companies involved. We like to increase the interest inside the O&G industry and would like to see more and more Service Provider’s to become engaged. My vision is to allow maximum value creation for our industry from existing and future remote sensing data, products and services provided and to demonstrate to our own managers that Earth Observation – in its widest sense – can not only save time and money, but also will help to improve the way we do business in a world asking for more sustainability and increased accountability.

Do you have overall recommendations on the future development of the geo-information service sector, and would like to ask to give some hopefully positive messages to the members of EARSC.

The use of Earth Observation will only increase in the future and more and more opportunities will emerge. The amount of geo-located information, remote sensing data or other, has increased enormously in the last few years. Utilising intelligently the information contained in all of these together: Multi-sensor, multi-timeline, multi resolution will open new ways we can benefit from all the Earth Observation information out there.

On the service side: we need fast response capabilities, as well as detailed analysis of multi-year data sets. The spectrum is wide. May be different companies should work closer together – utilize common formats, allow their metadata headers to be read by each others software packages and deliver to a common industry wide accepted standard. Dialogue with the OGP (possibly through OGEO) could help here.

Would you like to give some message to the entrepreneurs interested in helping your company with his long term goals? What do you see as the biggest long-term challenges?

Think outside the square! Many years ago I was told – you cannot merge radar and optical data … ‘They see different things’ – but they both describe the properties of the same patch of land we are investigating – So why not I asked then ?
Now we even merge different spatial resolutions or timeline data. Don’t take a: ‘That can’t be done’ for the final answer!

If you find out what we do and what we need to do in the O&G industry – then there is a good 1st step achieved and subsequently you will be able to see the challenges we face. If you can come up with a service: that can save on resources, both people or expenditure; that can improve the way we do business on the health and safety side ; that can help us to lower our environmental footprint and minimize the environmental impact we have – your service or product is of interest to us as an O&G company. I have left out exploration – which is still happening – so do not exclude that in you list of ideas.

The biggest challenge for me is the continuity – but this time not the continuity of the sensors, but that of the information we can and have derived, the knowledge we gained and the conclusions we have come up with. People move around much faster, decision making is often influenced by short term outcomes and any achievements from last year will need to be re-negotiated again in the next. Best practise demonstrators and success stories will allow us to document that. With an improved dialogue and enhanced communication we can overcome this continuity issue – since the whole community acts as the technology / applications memory.

Dr. Peter Hausknecht, studied Geophysics at LMU university in Munich, before starting his career as a remote sensing professional at DLR-German Aerospace in the former Optoelectronics Institute under Prof. Lanzl. A two year study leave in Australia with CSIRO – Exploration and Mining had him collect enough data for a PhD submitted in Geoscience at LMU University under Prof. Bodechtel doing active thermal infra-red laser spectroscopy for mineral exploration. Working for 7 years at DLR in projects like the space camera MOMS and the airborne hyperspectral system DAIS rounded his qualification as an optical remote sensing specialist. After moving to Australia he joined World Geoscience in Perth and helped to develop the worlds first full wavelength range airborne spectrometer called ARGUS, comprising of hundreds of spectral channels from the Visible to the Thermal Infrared. With HyVista Corp. he spent subsequently 5 years to promote and deploy the HyMap hyperspectral sensors all over the globe. In early 2007 he joined Woodside Energy Ltd in Perth, Australia’s larges Oil and Gas company, in a role as co-ordinator for the GIS and Mapping team and subsequently as co-ordinator for the remote sensing activities in the Geomatics team. Since then he has conducted many successful projects in the remote sensing / earth observation space for Woodside. He is a member of a few professional associations, lectures occasionally at Murdoch University in Perth and is internationally active in OGEO since 2009, where he was elected chairman of the OGEO interest group in 2011. He looks back on over 25 years in the remote sensing and geospatial industry in various roles and using multiple technologies. Peter has always stayed a strong supporter of hyperspectral remote sensing as a tool to improve earth observation and take it to the next level of knowledge gathering, be it from satellite, airborne or as a close range sensing tool

Thank you in advance for the elements of contribution to the Interview and for sharing your thoughts and comments with the EOmag readers.

Eomag!28_Interview with Peter Hausknecht Chairman Ogeo WG & Woodside Energy Ltd.pdf