Everyone wants free software, especially those which can be used for helping their works, but developing an industrial standard software takes time, money and a lot of effort, not only from individual software developer but also from a group of programmer.
It will be very difficult for students who want to do research in petroleum geology to use free industrial standard software because companies or people who develop softwares for petroleum industry will want to get their investment back. The petroleum industry can afford to buy expensive software anyway because what they want is maintaining productivity and be practical. If ever there someone who can develop a fairly good piece of software for oil and gas exploration, major software-developer companies will quickly hire this person to work for them, developing the same piece of program for business reason.
I was in touch with somebody who created two dimensional (2D) and 3D seismic interpretation program recently to ask for some information on how I can get his software for research purpose. Apparently he is under contract to develop the same program for a major, well-known, international oilfield services company which also have many kind of seismic interpretation software from PC/Windows-based to Linux and Unix-based.
It is possible that the man approached the company first to request help for developing his software, however it is also likely that the company approached him first because I think once he got supports from a consortium of oil companies providing him funding for developing the software, the service company can lose many contracts from their clients, which can be worth some millions dollars.
It will be better for the company to hire this man, pay him some amounts of dollar, do not allow him to distribute his software and develop the program for the company instead. By employing the man, the company can keep selling their previous seismic interpretation softwares, collect contracts from clients and get the copyright for next version of the software. Smart!
Back to free industrial standard software, it is almost unlikely to have completely free industrial standard software without sufficiently rewarding people who spend their precious life to develop it. So, free industrial standard software is perhaps a dream only.