OTC 2017: BP attains ‘holy grail’ of digital rock technology through new Exa agreement

BP’s proprietary digital rocks technology program is getting a key upgrade from an agreement with Exa Corp.

Offshore staff

HOUSTONBP’s proprietary digital rocks technology program is getting a key upgrade from an agreement with Exa Corp., which will enhance BP’s ability to predict the flow of oil and water in digital images of reservoir rock.

The multi-year commercial agreement is for Exa’s DigitalROCK relative permeability software solution based on the company’s multi-phase fluid flow simulation technology.

As a result of three years of cooperative research and validation, Exa is now bringing to market what it says is the first predictive computational solver for relative permeability. This new capability will help engineering teams make more informed decisions on wells, production facilities, and resource progression, including enhanced oil recovery.

This new capability will help engineering teams to make more informed decisions on wells, production facilities and resource progression, including enhanced oil recovery.

Speaking at a press event at the Offshore Technology Conference highlighting BP’s upstream technology portfolio, Dr. Joanne Fredrich, Upstream Technology senior advisor at BP, explained that Exa had originally generated the simulation technology for use in the automotive and other industries. She pointed out that this would allow BP to receive data on reservoir characteristics in a much shorter amount of time than with a physical lab test would allow, later saying that this would allow the company to generate “magnitudes” of more reservoir characterization.

In addition, Fredrich said that a much smaller sample size was required than what has been used historically, which was a core sample, lowering the cost. She called multiphase simulation the “holy grail” of digital rock technology.

“After years of cooperative research and development, this breakthrough represents an important step forward for BP and for our industry,” said Ahmed Hashmi, BP’s head of Upstream Technology.

Predictive simulation of relative permeability from a digital scan of a rock sample is now a reality for oil exploration and production companies globally,” remarked David Freed, VP of Oil & Gas at Exa.

BP’s digital rocks program was established 10 years ago. The technology uses rock core samples acquired from exploration, appraisal, and development wells that are imaged with ultra-high resolution CT scans to create a 3D digital model of the rock. These digital images are then put through proprietary algorithms that simulate the physics necessary to characterize rock properties. The algorithms are run at BP’s Center for High Performance Computing in Houston, which the company’s claims is one of the largest supercomputers in the world dedicated to commercial research.

BP’s digital rocks technology has been used in fields in Angola, the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, Egypt, Azerbaijan, the Middle East, India, and Trinidad and Tobago.

05/02/2017

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