After Billion-Barrel Bonanza, BP Goes Global with Seismic Tech

thunder horse platform

After Billion-Barrel Bonanza, BP Goes Global with Seismic Tech


By Ron Bousso LONDON, Jan 18 (Reuters)– Buoyed by the success of seismic imaging that discovered an additional billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, BP is seeking to take its most current modern technology to Angola as well asBrazil

The software program utilized in the Gulf, based upon a formula produced by Xukai Shen, a geophysicist right out of Stanford University, caused BP finding the crude in a location where it had actually lengthy believed there was none to be discovered.

Industry professionals claimed the range of the exploration 8 kilometres listed below BP’s Thunder Horse area, revealed recently, noted a significant jump ahead for deepwater expedition– a pricey organization understood for its reduced success price as well as high threat. It is an instance of exactly how modern technology is assisting deepwater rebound after a years when the sector has actually concentrated on developments in onshore shale.

The brand-new down payment was discovered with software program called Full Waveform Inversion (FWI), which is operated on a super-computer as well as examines echos of seismic soundwaves to generate high-resolution 3D photos of old layers of rock hundreds of meters under the sea bed, assisting rock hounds find oil as well as gas.

It is a lot more precise than previous checking approaches, BP claimed, as well as procedures information in an issue of days, compared to months or years formerly.

While the exploration noted the largest sector success for electronic seismic imaging, the British oil major’s opponents are warm on its heel with comparable methods.

BP researcher John Etgen, the business’s leading consultant on seismic imaging, claimed it intended to maintain its side with a brand-new device it has actually created, Wolfspar, to be utilized together with FWI.

The submarine-like Wolfspar is dragged by a ship with the sea as well as gives off really reduced regularity soundwaves, which are especially reliable for passing through thick salt layers that exist over rocks including nonrenewable fuel sources, he included.

Etgen informed Reuters that BP intended to turn out Wolfspar together with FWI in the 2nd fifty percent of this year at the Atlantis area in the Gulf of Mexico, where a big salt layer still conceals components of the website. The business intends to broaden making use of the modern technology to various other huge oil as well as gas containers, consisting of Brazil following year as well as Angola at a later phase, he claimed.

“Seeing through very complex, very distorted salt bodies was the hardest problem we had, the most challenging,” the Houston- based researcher claimed in a meeting.

In both Brazil as well as Angola, oil down payments are secured under thick salt layers. Brazil’s deepwater oil areas make up among the globe’s fastest-growing containers in regards to manufacturing. BP in 2014 authorized a collaboration with Brazil’s nationwide oil business Petrobras to establish sources there.


Billion- barrel oil locates are unusual, especially in fully grown containers like the Gulf ofMexico But the range of result from deepwater wells suggests they can take on one of the most low-priced containers on the planet, particularly united state shale.

BP is much from alone in concentrating on modern technology; all huge oil business have actually placed an expanding focus on digitalisation to minimize expenses adhering to the oil rate collapse of 2014.

In reality, BP’s invest in R&D was the 3rd least expensive amongst the globe’s top openly traded oil business in 2017 at $391 million, compared to Exxon Mobil’s $1.1 billion as well as Royal Dutch Shell’s as well as Total’s budget plans of over $900 million.

Other majors have actually additionally made developments. Italy’s Eni has actually released the globe’s most effective commercial computer system to procedure seismic information, for instance, while France’s Total is utilizing drones to perform seismic mapping in thick woodlands such as in Papua New Guinea.

However Barclays experts claimed in a record in 2014 that BP as well as Norway’s Equinor had one of the most innovative implementation of modern technology amongst oil majors.


The seismic advancement for BP came when Xukai Shen evaluated an originality he had for the FWI formula in 2016.

“What happened was magic – the pieces came together,” rememberedEtgen “We finally had the right algorithm with the right data set to create the model of the salt formation and use the model to remove distortion.”

BP claims its brand-new seismic modern technology can wait thousands of countless bucks in expedition hrs by determining the area of one of the most encouraging down payments.

“It allows us to drill the right wells, drill wells at lower costs, drill wells in the best part of the reservoir, drill fewer wells,” Etgen claimed.

The expenses of the modern technology are a portion of BP’s oil as well as gas manufacturing budget plan of around $12 billion each year.

An FWI study sets you back as much as $20 million to perform, while refining the information sets you back as much as $10 million, Etgen informedReuters The yearly invest in the super-computer that runs the software program has to do with $20 million.

“The companies that are investing in technology are coming through and winning the race,” Henry Morris, technological supervisor at independent North Sea- concentrated traveler Azinor Catalyst.

“That’s where BP are doing a good job. It’s working.”

Seeing with salt layers with self-confidence “adds real value” as well as conserves business the costs they have to pay to obtain sources with purchases, according to Bernstein experts.

“With high-performance computing, the seismic processing and interpretations are being done in two weeks rather than 1,000 years, as it would have been if they still used 20th century computers,” they claimed.

“Investors should therefore expect more from BP with this edge.”

(Additional coverage by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Pravin Char)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

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