W3C > Semantic Web Use Cases and Case Studies

Use Case: Ontology-Driven Information Integration and Delivery
A Survey of Semantic Web Technology in the Oil and Gas Industry

Frank Chum, Chevron Information Technology Company, USA

April 2007

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The purpose of this paper is to survey some significant applications of Semantic Web technology in the oil and gas industry, and describe a use case on how the industry can leverage this technology.

Key Business Drivers

“Semantic Web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries.”1 The Semantic Web technology provides a standard for machine-operational declarative specification of the meaning of terms based on the Resource Description Framework (RDF).

Application of Semantic Web Technology within the Oil and Gas Industry

Applications of Semantic Web Technology generally fall under the following categories:

Below are some real Semantic Web implementations within the industry:

Ontology-Driven Information Integration and Delivery Use Case

The oil and gas industry is a potentially rich domain for Semantic Web technology. Ontological-Driven Information Integration and Delivery involves using a rich domain ontology (as opposed to a flat keyword list) to index a collection of resources that may have overlapping metadata. Ontologies are important because they provide a shared and common understanding of data within a problem/solution domain, and by organizing and sharing enterprise information, as well as managing content and knowledge, they allow “better interoperability and integration of intra- and inter-company information systems.”10

A portal can be use to provide search, navigation and delivery of the underlying resources by exploiting the structure of the domain ontology (also called ontology-driven information retrieval11). This is different from a traditional portal because it establishes stable and reusable domain indexes that are separate from the organization of the portal, i.e., the navigation view provided by the access portal and the domain semantics are loosely coupled. The portal may easily be reorganized to suit different user needs. The ontology-driven navigation to information provides unanticipated relationships discovery, supports advanced drill down capabilities, and allows structured and unstructured information to be aggregated, organized and filtered.

Figure 1 is a model depiction of this use case. The stick figure represents an “actor” that uses or interacts with the use case, or information systems/subsystems, databases, and applications, etc. that the use case communicates with.


Figure 1: Ontology-Driven Information Integration & Delivery Use Case

Looking Ahead

Coupled with Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)12, ontologies provide a shared and common understanding of data, services and processes thus leading to more accurate representation of concepts. This enables a higher level of automation of tasks such as discovery, invocation and composition of Web Services. As we are seeing more oil and gas applications exposing their capabilities through Web Services, this will help facilitate agility in integration. Semantic Web Services (SWS) can also be integrated into an ontology language (e.g., OWL-S)13 providing a service-enabled ontology mechanism capable of connecting arbitrary services to ontologies. This can provide efficient domain-specific reasoning services to complex oil and gas applications.

Benefits of using SW

Ontology-driven information integration and delivery leverage rich extensible domain ontologies found in the oil & gas industry, and combine them with industry standard definitions and controlled vocabularies. This results in meaningful metadata that reflects the concepts relevant to the domain. This approach is extensible, as different domain ontologies can be linked together via common elements. As this approach is not hierarchical, there isn’t a single root. This means that new data and ontologies can be integrated with much flexibility, and the solution can grow incrementally. It also makes it easy to reuse elements of the repository in other contexts.

As we build more semantic descriptions of documents and content, we are making it easier to find, access and make use of the vast amount of information that are so typical in the oil and gas Industry.


The author would like to thank Roger Cutler of Chevron for his support without which this effort would not have been possible.


  1. http://w3.org/2001/sw/
  2. Rita E. Knox, Ted Fredman and Jess Thompson, “Sharing Semantics Across Applications,” Gartner Research ID Number: G00139922; 25 May 2006
  3. ISO 15926 is becoming a de facto standard for the process industry including Oil & Gas http://www.posccaesar.org/ISO15926/iso15926.htm
  4. Onno Paap, “Accelerating Deployment of ISO 15926 (ADI),” FIATECH Member Meeting Nov 7-8, 2006
  5. TietoEnator, “Production Data Reporting— Standardisation,” POSC Integrated Operations (IntOPS) SIG Regional Meeting, May 2006 Houston, Texas
  6. Roar Fjellheim and David Norheim, “AKSIO—An application of Semantic Web technology for knowledge management in the petroleum industry,” ISWC 2005, Galway, Ireland, Nov. 2005
  7. David Norheim and Roar Fjelheim, “AKSIO—Active knowledge management in the petroleum industry,” ESWC 2006, Budova Montenegro, June 2006
  8. Sevein Omdal, “The Integrated Information Platform (IIP) for Resevoir and Subsea Production Systems,” Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) 2005 and POSC IntOPS SIG Reginal Meeting, May 2006
  9. Jon Atle Gulla, “ Towards a Semantic Information Platform for Subsea Petroleum Processes,” in The European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) News. http://www.ercim.org/publication/Ercim_News/enw66/gulla.html
  10. Dave Linthicum, “Managing SOA Semantics Using Ontologies and Supporting W3C Standards,” in http://weblog.infoworld.com/realworldsoa/archives/2007/03/managing_soa_se_5.html
  11. Jon Atle Gulla, Darijus Strasunskas and Stein L. Tomassen “Semantic Interoperability in Multi-disciplinary Domain Applications in Petroleum Industry,” in Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Contexts and Ontologies: Theory, Practice and Applications. Riva del Garda, Italy. August 28, 2006
  12. Maksym Kortkiy and Jan Top, “Onto←→SOA: From Ontology-enabled SOA to Service-enabled Ontologies,” Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In Proceedings of International Conference on Internet and Web Application and Services (ICIW'06). Guadeloupe, February 23-25, 2006.
  13. W3C, “OWL-S: Semantic Markup for Web Services”, http://www.w3c.org.