The race for using high-performance computing in oil and gas reservoir simulation, management and development is on. Oil and gas supermajors are continuously pushing for higher efficiency and lower costs, all the more so since the oil price crash in 2014 caused them to cut exploration and production investments. The industry is increasingly relying on advanced technology in appraising oil and gas fields that would minimize downtime and maximize profits.
Last week, ExxonMobil boasted that it had set a record in high-performance oil and gas reservoir computing. In cooperation with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Exxon said it achieved parallel simulation using 716,800 processors, the equivalent of 22,400 computers with 32 processors each. The U.S. major claims that the data output is provided “thousands of times faster” than data received with typical oil and gas reservoir simulations.
“As our industry looks for cost-effective and environmentally responsible ways to find and develop oil and gas fields, we rely on this type of technology to model the complex processes that govern the flow of oil, water and gas in various reservoirs,” Tom Schuessler, president of ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, said in Exxon’s statement.
But it’s not only Exxon that is using supercomputers to seek ways to drastically cut time in studying oil and gas reservoirs. All supermajors are doing it, aware of the fact that if they can significantly increase the speed of field simulation and reduce downtime and machinery idling in reservoir assessment, management and development, they stand to gain a competitive advantage over peers. Related: Who Will Win The Race In Russia’s Emerging Oil Frontier?
UK’s major BP opened in 2013 a center for High-Performance Computing at its U.S. headquarters in Houston, to help it with seismic imaging technology, new field exploration, and reservoir management. BP’s supercomputer total memory had the equivalent of over 40,000 average laptop computers at the time.
Italy’s Eni SpA has a high-performance computing center to support the exploration and study of reservoirs. The Italian group is developing models based on supercomputers to simulate the movement of hydrocarbons in the rock pores and likely production from wells.
France’s Total SA said last year that its proprietary supercomputer had the computing power equivalent of more than 80,000 laptops combined. The French group uses supercomputing to optimize field development and shorten the duration of reservoir studies.
Total has also joined Chevron and Schlumberger in developing a software reservoir simulator, a project on which the U.S. major and the oilfield services provider have been working since 2000. Related: Is Big Oil Underestimating Autonomous Vehicles?
So oil and gas majors are exploiting the advances in computer science and are actively seeking ways to boost efficiency while reducing exploration times. High-performance computing is one of the areas of technology which oil and gas companies have been adopting.
Industry experts believe that this year, cloud computing adoption will also be one of the main IT trends for oil and gas, alongside the Internet of Things, drones, intelligent rigs, and leak-detection software.
As far as exploration and production (E&P) software is concerned, Transparency Market Research said in a report on Monday that it expects the global E&P software market to be worth US$14.7 billion by the end of 2024, compared to US$3.1 billion in 2015, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.9 percent between 2016 and 2024. The obvious reason for the surging revenue of this market is the growth of the global oil and gas industry, TMR noted. The North American market - which had 34 percent in the global market in 2015 – is expected to continue its market share dominance in the coming years, thanks to rising investments in U.S. shale gas. The increased number of offshore developments across the Middle East and Africa would be the top driving factor for the MENA region growth in E&P software revenue, TMR said.
The race for advanced software solutions and supercomputing among oil and gas supermajors is wide open.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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