Statoil Using New 'Number Cruncher' for Seismic Mapping

Bill W Maloney, Roger Sollie, Arild Hals
(Click to Enlarge)
The installation of Statoil's new supercomputer is complete. The gigantic number cruncher, located in Stavanger, has already provided good results.

The first installation phase took place in June 2005. The second and final phase is now complete with capacity greatly increased.

Bill W Maloney, senior vice president for global exploration (GEX) in International Exploration & Production (INT), was present at the official inauguration of the computer June 15. "Challenges in exploration have been the main driver for acquiring this kind of processing power which raises the quality of information in the search for oil and gas," he said. "The machine is already providing seismic images of prospects in the Gulf of Mexico, where the challenges of mapping beneath salt layers are huge."

Processing takes place through close collaboration between geophysicists in the Find project in Stavanger/Trondheim and geologists in Houston in the USA.

"The machine plays a decisive role in providing better images of the geology several kilometers under the subsurface, especially in areas with demanding geological structures," said Roger Sollie, staff geophysicist in Technology & Projects (T&P). He also coordinates the implementation of the technology in Houston.

Sollie regards the computer as important for the realization of the next generation of exploration work processes. Oil hunters must work closely together and possibly make many interpretations with different models. The final picture they come up with determines where the company should drill.

Arild Halsetronning, staff engineer in T&P, has been project manager for acquiring and setting up the supercomputer. He says it comprises a cluster of 256 interconnected servers with 1,024 processors. It is Scandinavia's biggest and can execute 12,000 billion calculations (12 teraflops) per second.

The supercomputer fills 17 racks, where each rack is two meters tall, 60 centimeters wide and 80 centimeters deep.

"The computer has run smoothly since its start-up," said Halsetronning. "It provides good results, not least thanks to a big input from Statoil's IT entity in global business services (GBS), who is responsible for its day-to-day running."

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