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Oracle geodetic spatial data is processed differently than other SDO_GEOMETRY data. To perform a spatial query using a filter geometry other than a point, Oracle requires that the geometry first pass through Oracle's SDO_CS.VIEWPORT_TRANSFORM function. This function converts any geometry with an extent greater than half the circumference of the Earth into two smaller geometries.
Point geometries cannot be processed through SDO_CS.VIEWPORT_TRANSFORM. If they are, this error can occur.
Some ArcSDE client applications calculate the minimum-bounding rectangle (MBR) of a filter geometry and pass the MBR to SDO_CS.VIEWPORT_TRANSFORM. If the filter geometry was a single point, the MBR will also be a single point, and SDO_CS.VIEWPORT_TRANSFORM will fail.
This problem can be reproduced in ArcMap by performing a selection operation such as 'Select by graphics' using a point graphic as the selection geometry. This problem does not occur with identify operations, where the filter geometry passed to ArcSDE is a very small rectangle, not a point.
This problem can also occur when performing a similar spatial query on Oracle geodetic data using the ArcSDE C or Java APIs. This can be worked around by specifying a very small rectangle as the filter geometry rather than a single point.
This problem is fixed in ArcSDE 9.0. It does not affect ArcSDE for Oracle 8i, because Oracle 8i does not have geodetic data.