BP claims new supercomputer will improve safety

The Guardian, By Terry Macalister, December 7

BP is to spend $100m (£62m) over the next five years in an attempt to find more oil using what it claims is the world’s largest supercomputer for commercial research, with a memory equivalent to nearly 150,000 iPods.

A new “high-performance computing centre”, which will boast 536 terabytes of memory, will open next summer at the firm’s US headquarters in Houston. The centre will eventually see 5,000 computers and 67,000 central processing units hooked up together.

BP said the new equipment will be able to perform 2,000 trillion calculations a second and will cut the time taken to perform the imaging of subsea rock formations from four years to 24 hours.

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BP said it would test 15 new oil and gas prospects globally between 2012 and 2015. About 35 of its exploration wells will target reserves with more than a quarter of a billion barrels of oil equivalent each. BP is determined to concentrate on oil for the bulk of its output, while Shell is committed to gas for half its overall production.

Asked by analysts what impact the focus on crude might have on carbon emissions, Dudley said: “We like black oil … our job is to get the company back on its feet for shareholders. Computers appear to be as much part of that strategy as rigs and refineries.”

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