A group of 12 major oil field service companies�a virtual Who's Who of the industry�have formed a joint venture company, OFS Portal, to create a standardized electronic catalog of product and service information to be used on multiple business-to-business (B2B) electronic commerce systems, officials said Wednesday.
The portal will provide a single standardized database to be used by the many B2B exchanges that want to do business with the oil and gas industry. OFS Portal hopes to establish e-catalog industry standards for the largely discrete B2B online marketplaces.
"There are a lot of exchanges out there, and they all want us to meet their own specific standards for providing information. We just can't do that," said Gary Flaharty at Baker Hughes Inc., one of the OFS partners.
The only alternative, he said, was for the service companies to develop their own portal for providing that information, with which the exchanges can link. That way, the service companies only have to update data at one source.
OFS participants plan to complete their design study in 4-6 weeks. "That's a pretty aggressive time frame, so it shows how serious we are about this," said Linda Silinsky at Schlumberger Ltd., one of the participants.
A strong push by clients to develop B2B e-commerce exchanges for purchasing equipment and services is the driving force behind OFS, company officials said.
What else the participants may develop for the not-for-profit independent service is not yet known. What it won't be, Flaharty emphasized, is another exchange where orders are actually placed.
"It's too soon to know even how it will be run. The governing board probably will include representatives from the 12 service companies, but it is open to additional members," Silinsky said.
Other OFS partners include: the upstream and petrochemical segments of the ABB Group, BJ Services Co., Cooper Cameron Corp., ENSCO International Inc., FMC Corp., Halliburton Co., National Oilwell Inc., Smith International Inc., Transocean Sedco Forex Inc., and Weatherford International Inc.
Motivation to form the OFS system and build its database came from recently formed company Trade-Ranger Inc., a B2B online platform formerly known as the Energy and Petrochemical Exchange.
In April, six of the service companies involved in OFS were invited to Boston to discuss providing the standardized information to the group of 14 major energy and petrochemical companies that formed Trade-Ranger.
Partners in Trade-Ranger marked a milestone Monday when they incorporated the new firm in Delaware and completed a first round of funding.
"The 14 founding shareholders have been working together to ensure that we can offer the most effective online trading community for the energy and petrochemical industry," said Timothy H. Ting, executive vice-president for Unocal Corp. and chairman of Trade-Ranger.
"We are in dialogue with several new buyers and sellers to become members of Trade-Ranger. We have taken the lead and are working with other buyers, sellers, and exchanges to set global standards for e-catalog content and e-procurement to drive complexity and costs from our industry," he said.
Trade-Ranger plans to begin transactions in September.
Its partners include Royal Dutch/Shell Group, BP, Conoco Inc., Dow Chemical Co., Equilon Enterprises LLC, Mitsubishi Corp., Motiva Enterprises LLC, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Phillips Petroleum Co., Repsol-YPF SA, Statoil AS, Tosco Corp., TotalFinaElf SA, and Unocal.