BP claims world-beating compute cluster

BP’s Ellis Armstrong explains wide azimuth seismic process to Harvard grads.

BP VP E&P Ellis Armstrong addressed the Harvard Business School Energy Club last month, on the sophisticated technology that BP is applying to its search for new conventional resources, tight gas and renewables. BP has been investing heavily in seismic technology for both exploration and production. One innovative new seismic technique leverages BP’s own in-house compute cluster (OITJ Vol. 8 N° 4), which Armstrong described as ‘one of the most, if not the most, powerful computing centers outside of the US government.’


The cluster is used to process seismic data from BP’s ‘Wide Azimuth Seismic’ (WAZ) surveys in the Gulf of Mexico. WAZ uses multiple seismic sources and acquisition vessels to collect information from many different angles and image below the thick salt canopy. BP has moved the WAZ technology from design to proof of concept in under 12 months and can now process the large data volumes from a WAZ survey ‘in a few weeks.’

Permanent sensors

In BP’s Caspian Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli giant field, permanent ocean bottom seismic sensors send data ‘in real time’ to the control centre, tracking how oil, gas and water are moving in the reservoir. Such monitoring is critical to assure accurate void replacement by simultaneous injection of water into the base of the oil column, and gas into the gas cap, described by Armstrong as ‘a balancing act.’


BP is using a ‘blend of seismic, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing’ to maximize gas production of the Wamsutter tight gas test-bed. BP also ‘supports the emerging consensus that measures should be taken to stabilize CO2 levels in the atmosphere’ and is to invest $8 billion dollars over the next 10 years in clean energies. BP is building the world’s first hydrogen power station at its Californian Carson refinery.

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