State-Owned Oil and Gas Company Builds Apps to Support Exploration and Production

Download Case Study

Aiming to automate internal management processes and external reporting and collaboration, EBN, a state-owned oil and gas company, used Mendix's application platform to create a comprehensive solution for its diverse data warehousing initiative and a long-term forecasting application to predict yields from oil and gas drilling.

  • Strategic platform to build complex applications quickly incl. automated registration system for new oil rigs, pipes and licenses and exploration simulator
  • Development completed 50% faster than originally quoted in Java, generating a significant cost benefit

Challenge

In a country that’s quietly awash in oil and natural-gas resources, including Western Europe’s largest gas field, EBN has been chartered as The Netherlands’ state-owned investment corporation to oversee the development of the country’s vast energy assets. Through partnerships with numerous oil and gas companies, EBN ensures that the exploration and production of the nation’s oil and gas fields takes place in efficient and economical ways to maximize value for all citizens.

Decades ago, EBN’s primary role was largely confined to bookkeeping and other financial reporting and administration. However, as the Dutch oil and gas market has matured, EBN has placed a greater emphasis on proactive relationships with its private-sector partners, and more effort to garner interest in various key projects. This has placed greater demands on its IT infrastructure for reporting and analysis.

According to Oscar Berger, information communication technology manager for EBN, the company now has many more joint ventures. “We have very tight partnerships with as many as 20 different oil and gas companies,” he said. “But that means we are dealing with lots of different data from different companies, different applications, and different formats. We needed to collect and store that high volume of data in a centralized data warehouse so that we could use common reporting tools on a unified data set.”

Mendix provides an easy-to-use, visual way of developing applications that’s much faster and doesn’t require expensive development resources. And the built-in integration with data sources is far superior to anything else we looked at.

Oscar Berger

ICT Manager, EBN

Solution

To aggregate all of that disparate data and load it into its data warehouse, EBN needed to create a custom ETL (Extract-Transfer-Load) solution that could integrate data from producers (its partners), reserves, financial figures (e.g. sales data), and more. “All of that data was coming from different platforms and the formats for the data are quite specialized,” Berger said. “We had some tools to do separate reports, but we had no way to combine it all. That’s why we turned to Mendix to create our own custom ETL solution.”

Mendix's application platform lets business experts collaborate every step of the application development project. Using a Scrum methodology, Mendix business engineers start with high-level requirements, share results immediately, get the app in the hands of key users quickly, and iterate until optimal results are achieved. “We analyzed a few Java-based alternatives, but we found that with Mendix, we could complete the development in about half the time. Mendix provides an easy-to-use visual way of developing applications, which is much faster and doesn’t require expensive development skills. And the built-in integration with data sources is far superior to anything else we looked at.”

Results

Today, licensees can contribute their data on drilling, projects, infrastructure, and more – and EBN can accommodate and aggregate that data quickly. “We use this data warehouse for several key functions,” Berger explained. “We use it to report out to our producer partners. We use it to report our results to our shareholders. And we use it internally to guide our operations and strategy. So the solution plays a crucial role for us.”

In addition, EBN has used Mendix's application platform to create a strategic “Exploration Simulator” that takes raw data inputs from a variety of sources and simulates what the reserves for a particular exploration site will be – as far as 20 years into the future. “Mendix was used to create a combination of calculations and visualizations that are based on test data gathered from the field,” said Berger. “It involves a tremendous number of rules, calculations, and logic. With those forecasts, we can predict how much oil or gas can be generated from any particular site. That helps us estimate the total worth of a drilling license – which means that our fellow citizens get the full financial benefit of our country’s energy resources.”

“With Mendix, complex applications become much easier to develop. They’re easier to change, too – and that helps us adapt quickly.”

About EBN

EBN is a state-owned corporation that invests in the exploration, production, and underground storage of natural gas and oil in The Netherlands. The company forms joint partnerships with private energy companies that purchase licenses to explore and develop the country’s numerous oil/gas sites. EBN provides investment capital, expertise, and detailed data to facilitate successful exploration activities. 2012 revenues were €8.5bn.