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CiSoft Looks Back at Achievements, Forward to Applications at the Wellhead

Chevron-funded Research Center Holds First Annual Meeting

February 02, 2005 —
 The Viterbi School's Center for Interactive Smart Oil Technologies (CiSoft) is on target and meeting expectations at the end of its first year, says CiSoft co-executive director Mike Hauser. 

CiSoft Co-Esecutive Directors Iraj Ershaghi (left)of the Viterbi School and Mike Hauser of ChevronTexaco at the center's newly opened offices on the third floor of Tutor Hall. (photo: Irene Fertik)
Hauser, the i-field ("integrated field") Program Manager for CiSoft sponsor ChevronTexaco*, spoke at a conference expected to be the first of an annual series, in which Viterbi School faculty working on CiSoft projects (19 are now involved) meet with engineers and technologists from ChevronTexaco and other corporate sponsors of the project.
CiSoft was established in December 2003 and work on projects started six months ago following an intense period of what Hauser called "organized brainstorming."  He and co-executive director Iraj Ershaghi, professor of of the Viterbi School worked to define the selected projects.

"It was a two-sided effort," said Hauser. "From the CVX [Chevron Texaco] side, the question was 'what are our needs?'  From the USC side, it was 'what is our expertise?'"

Working with both Viterbi School and CVX participants, the effort considered a wide range of possible research areas and business challenges and decided on focus on seven:
  • Integrated Asset Management
  • Well Productivity Improvement
  • Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
  • Embedded and Networked Systems
  • Reservoir Management
  • Data Management Tools
  • Immersive Visualization
Hauser said that some of the problems chosen were those that it seemed reasonable to expect usable results within a one to two-year time frame. "This means, yes, we do expect to have this technology in use by 2006, either in pilot or full-scale application. Other projects will target opportunities  three- to five-year s out, he said.
Participants from all seven research areas presented reports for discussion during the two-day event, which also included a keynote speech "Technology Unlocking New Barrels" from ChevronTexaco Vice President Melody Meyer. 
Roughly two to four Viterbi School faculty working on each project for each representative of CVX or other sponsors: Schlumberger, SAIC, and Microsoft.  In addition to Ershaghi, Viterbi research faculty Joseph Bannister of the Information Sciences Institute Networks Division and Ulrich Neumann of the Integrated Media Systems Center sit on the six-member decision review board overseeing CiSoft projects.The other members are Alan G. Nunn Global Technology and Strategy, General Manager at ChevronTexaco, and  Warner M . Williams of the ChevronTexaco's San Joaquin Valley Business Unit. 
The Center's yearly research budget is $2 million. 
Ershaghi emphasized that the research effort was taking place in tandem with the development of an educational curriculum to teach the emerging techniques to engineers.  Four new graduate courses on smart oil production, PTE 586, 587,588, and 589, are now in the curriculum.

Hauser was enthusiastic about his experience so far working with the Viterbi School.  "It's been a refreshing change from our short-term production world to be able to interact in a venue where we can think more innovatively. USC has so far more than met our expectations.

*ChevronTexaco has changed its name since the publication of this story. It is now known as Chevron.