LOS Analysis and the Curse of EXCEL

Bill Gates gave us EXCEL, but he should have included a warning. When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

For me, the worst part of reserves and economics is the bulk analysis of lease operating statements (LOS analysis). As an engineer I get a dump out of an accounting package, usually for just the last 12 months, and I have to analyze it in EXCEL, the only tool I have, which makes for a painful, inefficient and thus often crude method.

There exists specialized, highly efficient, database-driven software for accounting (which supplies the data) and for reserves and economics (which uses the analysis). I really don't know why software companies have not yet deployed their databases and graphing engines too streamline and sharpen the process of bulk LOS analysis. If engineers didn't have to spend so much time formatting and arranging data and creating calculations from scratch for each project, then they could spend more time on high value analysis and understanding.

My own frustration finally got to the breaking point, so Philip Anthony and I created a standardized template for LOS analysis which

  • allows the use of multiple years of data
  • allows standardization of analysis
  • allows multiple types of tables and graphs across all wells, and
  • thus allows in-depth and accurate analysis of any/all parts of the LOS.

While EXCEL was designed to create tables, including tables with calculations, it was not designed for data analysis. Other software tools, notably Tableau and Spotfire, were. These are database-driven analysis engines made to create multiple visualizations and statistics, and in presentable form, with little effort.

Our tool uses Tableau, and you can learn more about it here.

But even if you don't pursue our solution, I strongly encourage you to add Tableau and/or Spotfire to your toolbox because they have far more analytical utility than EXCEL.