IBM Builds Linux Supercomputer to Speed the Search for Oil

IBM eServer System Enables WesternGeco to "See" Beneath the Earth's Surface, Saving Time and Money

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HOUSTON, TX - 25 May 2001: IBM today announced that a major seismic acquisition, processing, and reservoir imaging firm has selected a powerful

IBM (R) Linux (R) supercomputer to substantially increase its ability to assist oil companies in their search for new oil reserves hidden deep beneath the earth's surface. The supercomputer will power WesternGeco's sophisticated seismic imaging system and will be comprised of a cluster of 256 IBM eServer systems, all running Linux.

With the high cost of oil exploration, particularly the drilling effort, dry holes are not an option. That is why more companies are turning to sophisticated methods of seismic imaging that allow scientists to create detailed 3D maps of hidden oil and gas reservoirs before drilling starts.

"The use of IBM systems running Linux has greatly expanded our ability to provide oil companies with detailed images, or to assist oil companies in imaging potential drill sites," said Trevor Gatus, data processing manager of WesternGeco's Houston Land Processing Center. "With excellent performance, we are now able to more fully utilize our most technically demanding imaging routines to assist oil companies with their oil exploration efforts."

WesternGeco is not alone in its use of seismic imaging. As evidence to the technology's growing popularity, in 1989 only five percent of wells drilled in the Gulf of Mexico were based on seismic imaging. By 1996, that figure swelled to nearly 80 percent. Today, seismic imaging precedes virtually all drilling expeditions.

xSeries-based Linux clusters are highly scalable from 4 to 1024 processors and can be fully adapted to meet the high performance needs of the petroleum market. Linked by a fast network, the clusters can be easily managed from a single point of control and can act as either a single machine or a multiple node system. The cluster at WesternGeco is comprised of 256 eServer xSeries 330 systems, each powered by two 933 MHz Intel Pentium III processors.

"Even with the best techniques available, oil is difficult to find. Petroleum companies need to do everything they can to stack the odds in their favor when making million-dollar decisions on where drill," said Dave Turek, vice president, Linux emerging technologies, IBM. "Through the use of high-performance Linux clusters, companies like WesternGeco can image more area in less time."