After billion-barrel bonanza, BP goes global with seismic tech
The software used in the Gulf, based on an algorithm created by Xukai Shen, a geophysicist straight out of Stanford University, led to BP discovering the crude in an area where it had long thought there was none to be found. The new deposit was found with software known as Full Waveform Inversion (FWI), which is run on a super-computer and analyses reverberations of seismic soundwaves to produce high-resolution 3D images of ancient layers of rock thousands of metres under the sea bed, helping geologists locate oil and gas. It is more accurate than previous surveying methods, BP said, and processes data in a matter of days, compared with months or years previously. While the discovery marked the biggest industry success for digital seismic imaging, the British oil major's rivals are hot on its heel with similar techniques. Italy's Eni (ENI.MI) has launched the world's most powerful industrial computer to process seismic data, for example, while France's Total is using drones to carry out seismic mapping in dense forests such as in Papua New Guinea. However Barclays analysts said in a report last year that BP and Norway's Equinor (EQNR.OL) had the most advanced deployment of technology among oil majors.
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