Curtailing methane emissions, in particular, remains a major focus of BP’s Lower 48 onshore business, which is one of America’s largest natural gas producers. Over the past two decades, BP Lower 48 has achieved significant methane reductions through a series of voluntary actions.
Thanks to these actions and others, BP’s Lower 48 business has slashed its total greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent since 2000, with methane reductions accounting for most of the decline.
BP Lower 48 currently is piloting the use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to further enhance methane leak detection.
It also uses digital platforms, augmented-reality goggles and advanced analytics to collect, share and explore data on its operations. Technicians wearing the goggles can read sensor information on their lenses and communicate in real time with experts at a control center. The experts, in turn, can overlay instructions and data in the technician’s field of vision.
Such technologies have helped BP Lower 48 improve safety while reducing its shale oil and gas production costs by more than a third over the past five years.
Meanwhile, in Houston, BP’s Center for High-Performance Computing (CHPC) – one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers for commercial research – provides crucial support to the company’s Gulf of Mexico business.
Computer scientists and mathematicians at the CHPC have made historic breakthroughs in rock physics and advanced seismic imaging, allowing BP teams to see deep into the Earth’s subsurface.
In 2017, BP used the CHPC and its proprietary seismic imaging technology to identify an additional 1 billion barrels of oil in place at its existing Gulf of Mexico fields.
The company recently developed a new seismic technology known as Wolfspar, which can help scientists and engineers see through massive salt layers that typically distort survey images. BP is piloting the use of Wolfspar at its Mad Dog field, before deploying it around the world.
In Alaska, the company has used drones to inspect its equipment on the North Slope, and in 2018 it completed two important technology trials. The first one focused on improving methane leak detection, while the second one tested the use of crawlers to perform pipeline inspections.
In 2019, BP Alaska plans to complete a 3D seismic survey of the entire Prudhoe Bay operating area. This survey will help the company pursue new drilling and well work at Prudhoe Bay, and thereby extend the life of the field.