Big oil companies were early adopters of supercomputers. Some have poured hundreds of millions into upgrades, and now possess some of the most powerful commercially owned computers on the planet. These computers can reduce the oil exploration process by months and save companies tens of millions of dollars by avoiding misplaced wells, so has BP discovered. With the help of a clearer seismic image of what lay beneath thanks to an algorithm and the company’s massive computer power, BP has recently discovered a potentially massive oil field, with an estimated 200 million barrels of crude, laying hidden in its Atlantis oil field, a region where the company had been plumbing for decades. The company is now in the middle of a five-year, $100 million investment in its Houston supercomputer, which it claimed was the most powerful commercial research computer in the world in December. However, BP is far from the only one in the oil patch. Within a month, its computer was overtaken by Italy’s Eni SpA’s, has built a computing facility the size of a soccer field outside of Milan, crediting its help in all its most recent oil and gas discoveries. France’s Total SA as well have recently upgraded its Pangea supercomputer, nearly tripling its computing power. – Wall Street Journal

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