The Exploration & Production teams at Total collect huge amounts of data every day. This data has to be processed efficiently, therefore high performance computing (HPC) has been the strategic choice. Total has been using supercomputers for several decades, and continues to invest in this field to handle and analyse data, in particular for seismic imaging and reservoir simulation.
With continual innovation, and technological breakthroughs, computing power has evolved steadily, and early in 2016 Total’s latest supercomputer, Pangea built by Silicon Graphics (SGI), was upgraded from its original 2.3 petaflop capacity installed early in 2013 to 6.7 petaflops, placing it among the top ten of the Top500 ranking (Nov 2015), and first in the industry category of the list.
The main drivers for such IT investment are to:
• Improve the accuracy of subsurface imaging,
• Optimise the development and production of Total’s producing fields, and
• Time saving, by shortening the study duration.
This capacity boost will enable the use of next-generation algorithms developed by Total’s R&D teams, allowing imaging of increasingly complex regions and producing high resolution field simulations.
HPC infrastructures and software
The first Pangea system came from a call for tender, which saw the main HPC vendor bid. The evaluation criteria considered cost, performance using Total’s in house software and algorithms, and energy efficiency. The upgrade, planned for within the initial tender then finalised more recently this year, gave a boost in computing power from 2.3 petaflops to 6.7 petaflops. Pangea draws this exceptional power from 221,184 interconnected Intel Xeon processor cores operating in parallel, which is the equivalent of more than 80,000 laptops combined. Its storage capacity has also been increased to 26 petabyte (PB) - the equivalent of six million DVDs – and in order to interconnect the computer blades, and the storage, about 200 km of optical fibers were installed.
Since energy efficiency was part of the tender criteria, Pangea came with an extremely efficient cooling system. To boost heat transfer and make the machine more compact, water is injected at room temperature (25°C) directly onto the computer blades, it then exits at 35°C. The heat dissipated is used to help heat the buildings at Total’s Centre in Pau, bringing cost savings and reducing Total’s environmental footprint.
Such large systems require a lot of power, and Pangea’s 4.5 megawatt electrical rating makes it the largest consumer at Total’s Scientific and Technical Centre in Pau.
Total’s team in Pau, together with an onsite SGI professional service team, look after the operation of Pangea, along with the evolution and optimisation of software. Total has developed proprietary algorithms to process its seismic data. This is done in-house, in short time frames, close to the interpreters, able to benefit from continually evolving R&D, and upgrades in industrial software, thanks to the close link maintained between the R&D, and the production teams.
Benefits for seismic imaging
Seismic imaging is a prerequisite for any hydrocarbon exploration and development project. The benefits of seismic imaging are many fold, providing better imagery of hydrocarbon traps, with better positioning accuracy, in order to gain an overall improved understanding of the subsurface.
Total’s internally developed imaging algorithms running on Pangea deliver real added value, from acquisition feasibility to seismic imaging of data acquired from all over the world. The supercomputer is used early in planning seismic surveys in order to identify best designs and thereby optimise the parameters and costs of our acquisitions, which often reach several million dollars. By processing seismic imaging Pangea lets us minimise approximations and increase the number of iterations used in the image construction, providing:
- Faster turnaround of jobs using existing technology, enabling more extensive scenario testing,
- A further step towards complete simulation of seismic wave propagation in inversion and imaging,
- The use of iterative imaging algorithms to minimise artifacts.
Pangea delivers greater accuracy from the entire data acquisition, processing and seismic imaging chain with better control over production lead times.
Benefits for reservoir simulation
After a hydrocarbon field has been discovered, the interpreters build a reservoir model from which flow simulations can be run. Because they integrate seismic, geological, fluid, well and surface data, reservoir simulators can be used to forecast the production rate of a field throughout its entire life.
Pangea enables simulation, at an unprecedented level, of complex fluid flows by using a very accurate and detailed representation of the reservoirs. Several simulations can be created based on different geological scenarios, which ensure that geoscience uncertainties are better accounted for.
Regarding integrated modelling—which includes reservoir, well and surface models—Pangea has allowed Total to make exceptional gains in terms of performance: simulations that once took a week can now be done in a few hours.
These simulation runs help select the best development scenario to maximise profitability. Pangea, together with our Next Generation Reservoir Simulator INTERSECTTM (Trade Mark of Schlumberger, is jointly developed by Chevron, Schlumberger and Total):
- Boosts our study accuracy, as seismic and geological models can be simulated without deterioration of data,
- Saves time by accelerating calculations,
- Allows us to undertake comprehensive multi-scenario studies and integrated subsurface and surface modeling.
In the research area Pangea offers very exciting prospects, firstly in the domain of pore and micro-scale flow modeling and, secondly, in the simulation of interactions between rock and fluid molecules at nanometric scale.
Pangea delivers very fast simulations, which allow teams to be more responsive with better study data when it comes to making the right investment decisions.
For all of our engineers and researchers, the increase in Pangea’s computing power is a remarkable improvement in terms of time, reliability and accuracy.
But this is not the end of the story, as we continue to look at taking advantage of next generation high performance computing capabilities, data analytics and deep learning as these will all become important drivers for the evolution of oil and gas technology.