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Power PCs boost oil hunt

June 3, 2005, 11:10 CEST

Researchers and petroleum hunters in Statoil took the most powerful computer in the Nordic region into use on 2 June, in order to raise the quality of oil and gas exploration.

“This machine will make a crucial contribution to improving our picture of geological formations several kilometres down,” says Roger Sollie.

The lead geophysicist in Statoil’s exploration research project, he adds that this applies particularly to areas with demanding structures.

An exploration operation involves collecting seismic data, analysing them through processing and interpretation, and finally drilling.

Information gathered by seismic survey vessels is processed in the new computer, allowing specialists to form a picture of the sub-surface and identify where the drill should be positioned.

Mr Sollie regards the new computer as important for implementing the next generation of work processes in the exploration sector.

Oil hunters have to collaborate closely and perhaps interpret the same data many times with different models. The final picture they establish determines where the group will drill.

“If we can improve this process, it could mean fewer dry wells in future,” explains Mr Sollie.

The new computer will primarily be utilised in the maturation phase for prospects, says Margareth Øvrum, executive vice president for Technology & Projects (T&P).

But specific plans have also been drawn up for making active use of the machine in preparing the drilling stage of exploration wells.

The new installation comprises 1,024 PCs which have been combined to create a single machine. This ensures very high calculation capacity at an acceptable price.

Statoil’s exploration specialists have cooperated closely with its central information technology function to procure the facility and bring it on line.

The group normally buys in seismic processing services from external contractors, and this practice will continue.

In particularly demanding or interesting areas, however, the machine is set to boost the chances of making discoveries when combined with the new work processes mentioned above.