Digital innovation

A low carbon transition for America and a net zero future is predicated on digital innovation.

A digital map of seismic imaging

Innovation as a service

Digital innovation drives new ways to engage customers, create efficiencies, develop higher returns and build low carbon solutions. That’s why we created a team dedicated to providing innovation services for bp and our customers.

Globally, we’re aiming to double our capital investment in digital to around $1.5 billion per year up to 2025, and we see this translating into value for bp and our customers.

Building a digital energy company

To reimagine energy, we also need to reimagine digital technology because it underpins everything we do. It’s a key enabler of our new strategy, which is why we have centralized and integrated digital as part of our wider innovation and engineering ecosystem.

A woman wears normal glasses with a second set of glasses in front of them to help with digital reflection while reading a digital screen.

Dynamic Digital Twin

Advanced digital tools are already in use across our US businesses and operations. For example, our Dynamic Digital Twin (DDT) software has been instrumental in the development of our Argos platform. Argos is a floating production unit in the Gulf of Mexico that’s scheduled to come online in 2022. It’s the centerpiece of our $9 billion Mad Dog 2 project.

DDT creates a skeleton copy of the platform, helping us virtually plan for startup by bringing together everything from engineering drawings to real-time sensor readings in one place.

DDT’s patent-pending algorithm pulls together a host of sources, linking complex data from Argos systems to lifelike 3D models and putting that information at users’ fingertips. It allows our teams to visualize everything happening below the subsurface, up through the production systems, into the platform and out the export line, helping them make better decisions, optimize production and identify potential issues. Subsea engineers can now get an up-close look at underwater sensor readings and inspection footage, as well as build simulations to test procedures, which improves safety and increases efficiency.

Seismic technology

Sustained investment in innovative solutions in seismic technology continues to deliver value to bp. In bp’s Gulf of Mexico business, we are using 4D seismic imaging ocean-bottom node surveys to support production decisions. The business also uses digital rocks technology, which can simulate 3D digital models of reservoir rock and helps us make faster, better-informed decisions about where to safely explore and drill.

Digital gas scheduling smartsheet

Our trading and shipping business uses a digital gas scheduling smartsheet (GSS) to coordinate the flow of natural gas. Launched in 2019 and recently fully live, our GSS technology successfully integrates gas operations data into a seamless information exchange, providing a versatile and stable platform.

For our gas operations team, the GSS platform is a game-changer, offering a flexible yet standardized tool that streamlines the once-fragmented process of nominating and transporting natural gas through hundreds of pipelines from producers to end users in the Americas.

Among other benefits, GSS allows us to maintain a real-time position without sacrificing functionality; it reduces the risks associated with manual data entry; it delivers cost savings by replacing an outmoded accounting system; and it provides a strong foundation for further automation.

bp fully moved our entire Americas trading estate to the digital cloud in 2020. This made a big difference for our Houston-based gas and power trading business in February 2021, when Winter Storm Uri caused extreme and unprecedented freezing temperatures across the US, leading to significant disruptions to supply and demand within US natural gas and power markets. This caused extended power outages within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which serves Houston. Because we moved our US trading applications to a highly resilient cloud datacenter in Ohio, all bp electronic systems were fully operational and the business was able to perform and deliver business critical activities with minimal disturbance to its customers and the markets.

Many pipes laying on the ground and suspended, coming from a tall refinery building in the background
  • [1]

    Source: Platts Daily April 2021

  • [2]

    Source: Megawatt Daily, 2021 Wholesale Power Sales Statistics (June 16, 2021)

  • [3]

    IEA report – The Role of gas in today’s energy transitions

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Center for High-Performance Computing

bp’s Center for High-Performance Computing (CHPC) in Houston has one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers for commercial research, which we have used to make historic breakthroughs in rock physics and advanced seismic imaging, allowing our teams to see deep into the Earth’s subsurface.

bp's Center for High-Performance Computing building located on the bp Westlake campus in Houston, TX, USA

Leader in digital innovation

Relying on a mix of engineers who maintain the computers and software developers who work with our businesses — the CHPC supports digital innovation across bp, especially in the areas of seismic technology, reservoir engineering, applied sciences and molecular biology.

The CHPC has enough computing power to perform 21 quadrillion operations per second. For perspective, the CHPC has the storage capacity of 90,000 512-gigabyte iPhones, meaning it can hold more than 3,000 times the amount of information in the US Library of Congress.

Since the early 2000s, bp geophysicists have used CHPC resources to design and optimize a range of seismic acquisition methods. Their work has made it much easier to get high-quality seismic data, helping us deliver faster and safer operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Shadows of two people who are standing while working on computers in the Center for High-Performance Computing building on bp's Westlake campus in Houston, TX, USA

In 2021, bp geophysicist Joe Dellinger received the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists for “significant contributions in developing the most effective methodology for seismic imaging with low and super low frequencies.” These innovations would not have been possible without the CHPC.

bp also leverages the CHPC in its partnerships with US Department of Energy National Laboratories, industry and academia to progress leading-edge technologies and the development of innovative solutions to subsurface, computer science and applied science problems faced by the energy industry.

A picture of a computer screen that's showing a seismic graph.

Mapping the Earth’s subsurface

Utilizing CHPC resources, our seismic imaging group developed a technology known as “deblending” to help process some of the more complex datasets we had acquired. We then shared this technology with bp vendors to enable its large-scale application across our portfolio.

In 2006 bp also invented and patented a computational technique for applying full waveform inversion (FWI) to industry-scale seismic datasets. While FWI had been used in academic research, it had never been used at scale due to the enormous computational demands. Our invention emerged from our seismic modeling expertise, underpinned by the CHPC.

Two people look through paperwork of charts, graphs and data at a desk.

Since then, several other experiments and improvements on our FWI code and acquisition methods have revolutionized how we image our vast resources in the Gulf of Mexico. In recent years, bp used advanced seismic imaging and the CHPC to discover 400 million additional barrels of oil in place at our Atlantis field and 1 billion additional barrels in place at our Thunder Horse field.

Looking ahead, bp will continue leveraging the CHPC to drive our resilient and focused hydrocarbon strategy, delivering safe wells through improved subsurface imaging. The CHPC will also underpin research efforts supporting bp’s net zero ambition, providing the platforms to model wind farm scenarios, carbon sequestration, lubricants, coolants and hydrogen.

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