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Major oil companies to develop industry software infrastructure

Chevron Corp., the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Schlumberger Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding to create a new company to develop and market the next generation of standardized software infrastructure, or "middleware," for upstream applications and data integration, company officials said Monday.

Each of the three companies is to own an equal share of the new firm, OpenSpirit Corp., which is to be based in Houston.

Development of the initial framework for the new firm was funded by the OpenSpirit Alliance, which began 3 years ago as collaboration between oil companies and software vendors to find a better way to develop, deliver, and utilize upstream applications. The new company will market, support, and further develop the vendor-neutral and platform-independent application framework.

The OpenSpirit software should be available for commercial release in this quarter, said officials.

Neil Buckley, former president of U.S. operations for Merak, a division of GeoQuest, part of Schlumberger, will serve as chief executive officer of OpenSpirit Corp. He has more than 12 years of software commercialization experience in the energy business.

�OpenSpirit represents a significant advancement in our industry's ability to share information and develop innovative collaborative solutions in a distributed environment,� said Buckley. �Until now, there has not been a comparable framework capable of integrating data and applications from multiple sources in the E&P industry.�

All existing OpenSpirit software and related development tools and documentation, previously developed and marketed by PrismTech, will be exclusively licensed to the OpenSpirit Corp. under an intellectual property agreement.

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