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BP expands digital rocks technology

Release date:
May 2, 2017
New software licensing agreement reached with Exa Corporation

HOUSTON – BP’s proprietary digital rocks technology program is getting a key upgrade from a new multi-year commercial agreement with Exa Corporation, which will enhance BP’s ability to predict the flow of oil and water in digital images of reservoir rock.


This new capability -- known as multiphase flow simulation technology -- will help engineering teams to make more informed decisions on wells, production facilities and resource progression, including enhanced oil recovery. Exa’s multiphase fluids simulation solution for digital rocks was co-developed with BP during a three-year technology collaboration agreement.


“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. “It underscores BP’s continued leadership in digital technologies and their increasingly important role in helping us to develop energy resources safely, effectively and economically.”


BP’s industry-leading 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, one of the largest supercomputers in the world dedicated to commercial research.


BP’s digital rocks technology has been used across BP’s global portfolio including fields in Angola, the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, Egypt, Azerbaijan, the Middle East, India, and Trinidad and Tobag

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Digital rocks
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About BP

Over the past 10 years, BP has invested $90 billion in the U.S. – more than any other energy company. BP is a leading producer of oil and gas and produces enough energy annually to light nearly the entire country for a year. Employing about 14,000 people across the country, BP supports more than 130,000 additional jobs through all of its business activities.


Notes to editors

  • BP’s digital rocks team includes multi-disciplinary experts in 3D imaging, fluid mechanics, numerical modeling, computational physics, high performance computing, rock physics and reservoir engineering. 
  • BP’s Center for High Performance Computing (CHPC) is located in Houston and opened in 2013. It enables BP to perform complex modeling of the subsurface, development of advanced algorithms to improve understanding of the behavior of hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs, and to advance new seismic acquisition technologies. 
  • BP’s digital rocks technology is implemented in the CHPC, providing a comprehensive suite of rock properties in as little as one to two weeks’ time.
  • Multiphase flow is the simultaneous flow of distinct fluid phases with different properties, such as oil and water; relative permeability is the measure of how oil flows relative to water when both are present in the reservoir. 
  • Exa Corporation provides fluid flow, heat transfer, and acoustic simulation and visualization software that predicts the real-world performance of products early in the design process in the ground transportation and aerospace industries.
  • BP’s Upstream Laboratories are located in Sunbury, UK and include both a dedicated medical CT scanner, like the ones used in hospitals, as well as a custom-built microCT scanner used for digital rocks.


Further information

BP Press Office, Houston

Phone: +1 281 366 4463

Email: uspress@bp.com


Cautionary statement


In order to utilize the ‘safe harbor’ provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the ‘PSLRA’), BP is providing the following cautionary statement. This press release contains certain forward-looking statements concerning BP’s operations and technology programs. Actual results may differ from those expressed in such statements.
This press release contains references to non-proved resources and production outlooks based on non-proved resources that the SEC's rules prohibit us from including in our filings with the SEC. U.S. investors are urged to consider closely the disclosures in our Form 20-F, SEC File No. 001-06262. This form is available on our website at www.bp.com. You can also obtain this form from the SEC by calling 1-800-SEC-0330 or by logging on to their website at www.sec.gov.