To understand IHS’ QUE$TOR estimating software capabilities and output one must look
study the underlying data. Furthermore it’s imperative to correctly adjust the database
for each project.
Quoting from Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name?”.
Or to those with a more numerical inclination: “What’s in a number”. This is a very
When we define the various parameters in QUE$TOR what data is actually being pulled
out? In basic terms QUE$TOR’s data source is taken from a large sample base of actual
and greatly differing projects and then the data is “normalized” or standardized
to account for the different location and it’s unique conditions (which have very
important cost impacts, for example the cost for an offshore platform built out in
the Canadian Arctic sea will be affected by a very different set of factors than
that by an identical offshore platform that was to be built in Nigerian offshore
In the same way that QUE$TOR’s data is “normalized”, when building up a cost model
using the QUE$TOR software great care must be taken to apply the correct factors
to the particular project being modeled.
As an example, for project located in Iraq (in 2012) the database could be adjusted
- 13.5% Iraq logistics cost (increase).
- Manhours per unit (increase) via Productivity terrain factor of x1.5.
- Increase "Total Plot Area" x2.
- Insurance, increase to 3-4%.
- Construction camp, increase to $2,500/ person.
- Technical specification - select Middle East.
- Add escalation accordingly from QUE$TOR’s data’s release date to the *end* point
of the project execution period.
For this last point, we must carefully think how the total cost data is calculated
in the database. Let’s consider the following: if a project duration was from the
start of January 2006 to the end of December 2008, the cost for say construction
activities on a unit rate basis will differ during the duration of the project, given
that escalation is ever present during this time. If the project was to consist exclusively
in the fabrication of a particular tubular structure, the unit cost might be 2,000/
tonne in 2006, 2,050/ tonne in 2007 and 2,100/ tonne in 2008. Therefore for a project
completed in 2008 The project’s total unit cost at completion will be therefore (assuming
a constant linear production with no changes in productivity during this time) 2,050/
That is, the data reflects the average unit rate calculated at the *end* of the project.
Accordingly, escalation should apply to the *end* of the project being modeled!
QUE$TOR’s Unit Rates
The estimate model is built up essentially on a relatively small set of unit rates.
For construction activities we have e.g. unit rates for steelwork, piping, electrical,
instruments, etc., all of these with tonne as the unit of measure. While for typical
steelwork and piping work this approach has it’s merits, for other categories such
as electrical and instruments to estimate the cost on such a basis is less than ideal.
However, and this is what is important to bear in mind when working with a QUE$TOR
model, we are looking at basic very rough work order of magnitude estimates, which
are often prepared with very little project definition. No high accuracy is possible
when no detailed project definition is available. QUE$TOR is a great tool that provides
solid numbers (if the software is used correctly and with understanding of it’s capabilities)
for rough order of magnitude estimates such as those used during feasibility studies.