Preparing the oil and gas industry for the Exaflop era

Over the years, oil and gas industries have been heavy users of HPC machinery and a driving force towards faster and more energy efficient computers. The consumption of HPC cycles in this industry is dominated by seismic processing, that selects promising locations of hydrocarbons reservoirs, promoted to candidates for exploratory drills.

Seismic processing input is a large survey of seismic data acquired over a target area. Seismic processing output is a set of images of the subsurface, containing locations and properties of geological layers that best fit survey data. Seismic data processing currently demands months of state-of-the art computing machinery.

Obviously, faster computers of the Exaflop era will accelerate this process under the same algorithms. But they will also allow the use of more computationally demanding algorithms, required to produce high quality images of complex geologies. They may also reduce the risk inherent to exploratory drills either by estimating the process uncertainty or by accelerating the evaluation of possible scenarios.

HPC4E works in three directions to prepare the oil and gas industry for the Exaflop era.

First direction is to produce more precise images by accelerating demanding kernels that solve various forms of the wave equation. Classical finite differences and promising finite elements kernels are optimized for speed on potential Exaflop architectures. New finite element methods are developed and optimized. The optimized kernels and the optimization procedures will be incorporated into the oil and gas industry production software for further testing.

Second direction is to develop a comprehensive benchmark suite of demanding geological models. These models will be the testbed of the optimization procedures of the first direction on the speed and quality of imaging software.

Third direction is the development of uncertainty quantification methods to enhance the exploration risk evaluation procedure.

So far, project milestones were achieved at due time. Target kernels were optimized and the optimization methods are being incorporated into the industry codes. They will be tested on the suite of geological models already produced. Promising uncertainty quantification procedures were developed and are currently being tested.

For further details, please refer to:


Jairo Panetta - ITA (Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica)


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