R is for Reservoir modelling
It might just look like thin brown treacle to you and I, but crude oil is a big money business.
Millions of years worth of pressure under the earth’s surface has turned the tiny plants and animals of prehistoric Earth into the modern world’s most valuable resource – powering vehicles, industries and economies across the globe. As such, the financial rewards for finding and trading in oil are substantial. However, when you’re using millions of pounds worth of equipment including a 30ft drill to bore holes into the planet’s crust then equally, so are the risks. Choosing the wrong spot to drill can be an expensive mistake.
StatoilHydro ASA, a Norway-based oil and gas company, is one of the world’s largest crude oil traders. It relies on sophisticated 3D simulation programmes to search for natural oil-wells in the Earth’s crust -- if you want to strike it rich you need to be drilling in the right place. I don’t need to tell you that this process involves vast amounts of data, large numbers of complex calculations and requires thousands of iterations to produce accurate results. To put it simply, it’s a very, very big job.
To ensure StatoilHydro had the required resources to power such colossal calculations it installed an HPC environment, which is now invaluable to its reservoir engineers worldwide. It allows its users to run significantly more simulations which in turn means for much greater accuracy when drilling.
And accuracy is important when only a small error in location can cost many millions of dollars. This isn’t ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ – it’s an exact science.
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