Coming 2013: New BP Facility To House Largest Commercial Research Supercomputer

BP's new facility on the Westlake Campus is said to house the largest supercomputer. It is scheduled to open mid-2013 and will be used for advancing seismic imaging. All images are courtesy of the BP HPC Center.
Oil giant British Petroleum is building a new facility that will house the world's most powerful supercomputer at its North America office based in west Houston. It will go farther, faster and deeper in its search for oil and gas anywhere in the world.

BP is building a three story, 110,000 square foot facility at its Westlake Campus in west Houston, that will be home to what it says will be the largest supercomputer for commercial research in the world. The company's Brett Clanton says oil exploration is so competitive that it calls for the latest technology to find product:

"Will help to process and interpret seismic data, so that we can make better drilling decisions. We can be more accurate, get better images of the sub-surface, and ultimately reduce time tables of projects. So this is a very important project for us. And we're building a center here that will ensure future growth to continue to keep up with the demands, the very high demands for this business."

Reporters got a glimpse of advances in exploration that BP and the other oil companies use to stay ahead of the competition.

John Etgen is a researcher who advises BP on the technology. He says they'll soon be able to process and manage the huge volume of geologic and seismic data that it gets from its scientists.

"Because of the growth in our business, and because of the growth in the technology of doing this, we need a new computer facility to house the computing capacity to make this work in the future. Here what we do is do things that have never been done before. I'm not directly related to finding oil and gas by drilling wells, what I do is develop the technologies that enable that to happen. So, we are working on things that can't yet be done, but need to be done, to make that business work efficiently and safely."

The new computer will replace a smaller one that's having trouble keeping up with new advances. Keith Gray manages high performance computing for BP. He says the construction is part of a 5 year, $100 million dollar investment in high performance computing.

"Our computing may be a little different than some other folks, because we want computers that enable their ability to think fast. We want them to create breakthroughs. We're not worried about saving the last penny on the computer. We're worried about giving BP the right tools to do the job."

The facility is expected to open in the middle of next year.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...