BP Opens New Facility in Houston to House the World’s Largest Supercomputer for Commercial Research

Release date: 22 October 2013
The Center for High-Performance Computing will keep BP at forefront of seismic imaging technology, enhancing capabilities in exploration, reservoir management

BP announced today it has opened a new facility in Houston to house the world’s largest supercomputer for commercial research, highlighting its commitment to leading-edge technology in support of its core oil and gas business around the globe.

The Center for High-Performance Computing, located at BP’s US headquarters in Houston, will serve as a worldwide hub for processing and managing huge amounts of geophysical data from across BP’s portfolio and be a key tool in helping scientists to “see” more clearly what lies beneath the earth’s surface. 

Ever-more precise images of the subsurface -- made possible by greater computing power, speed and storage capacity – will enhance BP’s ability to find new energy resources, by reducing the time needed to analyze massive quantities of seismic data and enabling more detailed in-house modeling of rock formations before drilling begins. Such advances will help BP build on its historic strength in oil and natural gas exploration. 

Better imaging capability will also help the company more safely and efficiently appraise new finds and manage complex reservoirs once production starts. In addition, the center opens up new possibilities for research into other important aspects of BP’s business activities, from oil refining to enhanced oil recovery. For example, it will help facilitate BP’s industry-leading development of “digital rocks,” a proprietary technology for calculating petrophysical rock properties and modeling fluid flow directly from high-resolution 3D images – at a scale equivalent to 1/50th of the thickness of a human hair. 

“BP’s investment in this new supercomputing center not only highlights the increasingly high-tech nature of today’s global oil and gas industry, it underscores our company’s long-held belief in the vital role technology plays – and will continue to play – in solving the world’s biggest energy challenges,” said Jackie Mutschler, BP’s Head of Upstream Technology.

BP’s new Center for High-Performance Computing is housed in a three-story, 110,000 square foot building at BP’s Westlake campus. Built to withstand the strong Gulf Coast weather events, reduce energy consumption and accommodate future growth, the building replaces BP’s previous supercomputing complex, which had been located within an office tower at the campus.

The previous supercomputing facility was the world’s first commercial research center to achieve a petaflop of processing speed – or one thousand trillion calculations per second. But it had reached maximum power and cooling capacity, limiting options for growth.

BP worked with HP and Intel to grow its computing power to over 2.2 petaflops, almost doubling our capability this year.  

BP’s new supercomputer will also boast total memory of 1000 terabytes and disk space of 23.5 petabytes – the equivalent of over 40,000 average laptop computers.

About BP

Over the past five years, BP has invested more than $55 billion in the U.S. – more than any other energy company. BP is the nation’s second-largest producer of oil and gas and provides enough energy annually to light nearly the entire country for a year. Directly employing more than 20,000 people in all 50 states, BP supports more than 260,000 jobs in total through all of its business activities. For more information, view our

Notes to editors:

  • High-performance computing has been vital to advances BP has made in seismic imaging over the past two decades, including the development of wide azimuth towed streamer (WATS) seismic technology for subsalt imaging, which has transformed the way data in the Gulf of Mexico and other major offshore basins is acquired and processed. 
  • Tested in the computer before they are taken to the field, the breakthroughs have been instrumental in some of BP’s largest oil and gas discoveries in recent years.
  • BP’s computing needs are 20,000 times greater today than they were in 1999. 
  • BP scientists can now have the computing power to complete an imaging project in one day that would have taken 4 years using computing technology from just 10 years ago.
  • In addition to enabling future growth, the new Center for High-Performance Computing in Houston will also feature improved electrical and cooling systems that reduce power consumption by 30 percent over the current facility, as well as space for other BP technical support systems and offices.

Further Information:

Name: BP US Press Office
Phone:+1 (281) 366-4463
Email: uspress@bp.com

Forward-looking statements - cautionary statement:

This press release contains certain forecasts, projections and other forward-looking statements regarding the future prospects for and expected capabilities of the Center for High-Performing Computing and the benefits thereof that are expected to accrue to BP. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty because they relate to events and depend on circumstances that will or may occur in the future. Actual results may differ from those expressed in such statements, depending on a variety of factors including the timing and nature of maintenance outages; operational problems; the development and effective use and maintenance of new technology; the effectiveness and security of our digital infrastructure; the actions of competitors and others; natural disasters and adverse weather conditions; changes in public expectations and other changes to business conditions; wars and acts of terrorism, cyber-attacks or sabotage; and other factors discussed under “Principal risks and uncertainties” in our Stock Exchange Announcement for the period ended 30 June 2013 and under “Risk factors” in our Annual Report and Form 20-F 2012 as filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.