Upstream Technology

Technologies such as seismic imaging, digital advisor systems and acoustic sensing help BP find and produce more oil and gas, safely and efficiently. 

The company remains a leader in developing seismic imaging capabilities, which allow oil and gas explorers to see deep into the Earth’s subsurface. For example, a recent breakthrough in seismic processing technology — which enhanced the clarity of survey images — allowed BP to unlock 200 million barrels of additional resources in its Atlantis field in the Gulf of Mexico. 

“This innovation again shows that BP remains at the forefront of advanced seismic imaging and digital technologies,” says Ahmed Hashmi, BP’s head of upstream technology. “The new technique has produced the best images of this reservoir that we have ever seen.” 

The imaging breakthrough was made possible by BP’s continued investment in its Center for High-Performance Computing (CHPC), which is one of the world’s largest supercomputers for commercial research. Since the CHPC opened in 2012, BP has tripled its computing power and doubled its storage capacity, and it plans to continue expanding the facility in 2017. 

Digital technologies, meanwhile, have huge potential to modernize and transform BP’s businesses. Through a partnership with GE, the company is pilot-testing Plant Operations Advisor, an offshore digital technology designed to improve the safety, reliability and efficiency of its Gulf of Mexico operations. 

This technology gives BP teams real-time surveillance tools to detect potential facility issues well in advance. For example, BP uses Plant Operations Advisor to process more than 150,000 sensor records per minute on the condition of its equipment. The company plans to deploy it in more than 30 fields by 2018. 

BP also uses fiber cables — installed several miles below the ocean floor — to help identify sand that is entering its offshore wells or causing damage at the surface. Known as “acoustic sensing,” this technology enables BP to hear the sand and locate its precise entry point, so that the well can be repaired. If too much sand is produced along with oil, it can cause erosion and equipment problems; in extreme cases, it even can stop a well’s production. Thus, identifying sand entry points helps BP recover more oil and gas.