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BP's Super Seismic Imaging Detects Considerably More Oil, NatGas Resource in Deepwater Atlantis Field

A major breakthrough in seismic imaging by BP plc has identified more than 200 million bbl of additional oil and gas resources at its Atlantis field in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

"As a result of this early success, BP now is deploying this technique to fields elsewhere in the Gulf of Mexico as well as in Azerbaijan, Angola, and Trinidad and Tobago," the oil major said.

The imaging innovation enabled BP to enhance the clarity of images collected during seismic surveys, particularly areas below the earth's surface that previously were obscured or distorted complex salt structures. The sharper seismic images suggest that BP will be able to drill development wells in deepwater reservoirs with higher confidence and accuracy.

"This technological breakthrough has essentially allowed our team to find a new oilfield within our existing Atlantis field," said BP's Bernard Looney, CEO of the global upstream business. "Given the overwhelming success of this project, we are now deploying this technology across BP's global operations."

Atlantis, discovered in 1998, is 125 miles south of New Orleans near Green Canyon Block 743 in 7,074 feet of water. The field covers six blocks. The Atlantis platform, jointly owned by BP (56%) and BHP Billiton Ltd. (44%), ramped up in 2007 and is designed to pump 180 MMcf/d of natural gas and 200,000 b/d of oil. Production is transported to third-party operated infrastructure via the BP-operated Caesar oil system and the Cleopatra natural gas pipeline system.

Proprietary algorithms developed at BP's Subsurface Technical Center were applied on a seismic data run at the Houston-based Center for High Performance Computing, which opened in 2013 as one of the largest supercomputers in the world dedicated to commercial research. The Subsurface Technical Center, established last year, specializes in advanced seismic imaging and enhanced oil recovery.

The supercomputer center allows BP to conduct complex modeling of geological formations, develop advanced algorithms to improve the understanding of hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs and advance acquisition technologies and survey designs that help see the subsurface more clearly.

For example, the supercomputer allowed BP to not only invent but also be the first company todeploy wide-azimuth towed-streamer technology to better illuminate and image below complex structures like salt.

The algorithms developed through the new seismic findings allowed data that normally would have taken a year to analyze to be processed in only a few weeks, accelerating development decisions for the field.

The algorithms enhance a technique known as full waveform inversion, or FWI, which matches seismic simulations with existing seismic data to produce high quality subsurface images. FWI refines subsurface models by generating seismic wave simulations and adjusting the values of subsurface properties based on the quality of the match between the simulated and recorded data. The subsurface property models created by FWI in turn create high resolution images of oil and natural gas reservoirs.

"This innovation again shows that BP remains at the forefront of advanced seismic imaging and digital technologies," said BP's Ahmed Hashmi, head of upstream technology. "The new technique has produced the best images of this reservoir that we have ever seen."

BP, which has about 400 lease blocks in the GOM, operates four large production platforms in the U.S. deepwater -- Atlantis, Thunder Horse, Mad Dog and Na Kika. It also holds interests in four nonoperated hubs -- Mars, Olympus, Ursa and Great White. Between 2013 and 2016, BP’s average net production in the U.S. GOM increased to 264,000 boe/d from 189,000 boe/d.

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