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Xeon-based Shaheen II to complete ‘trillion cell reservoir simulation’

Saudi Aramco, a state-owned petroleum and gas company in Saudi Arabia, has used the Intel Xeon-based Shaheen II supercomputer to complete the world’s first “trillion cell reservoir simulation,” a feat that will boost the company’s efforts to find oil and gas under the ocean floor.

A Saudi Aramco research team conducted the simulation using the company’s own proprietary software on the supercomputer at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The Shaheen II system reaches 5.5 petaflops speeds and is currently ranked No. 15 on the Top 500 list.

Trillion cell refers to how dense and high-resolution imagery is, said KAUST Computational Scientist Lead Saber Feki, in a story on KAUST’s website.

“Think of it this way: we all carry megapixel cameras in our pockets,” Feki said in the story. “The Saudi Aramco team just simulated subsurface images with six orders of magnitude higher resolution on our machine. It’s research that will yield much more reliable information for oil exploration and production.”

The trillion cell simulation will allow Saudi Aramco to better locate oil and gas, said Jysoo Lee, director of the KAUST Supercomputing Core Lab, which provided support for the simulation.

“The resolution is so much higher that Aramco can locate things that were not seen before,” Lee said in the story. “These pockets of oil and gas were there but could not be seen. What was once a much more random process can now be done in a pinpoint fashion. This is a tremendous difference.”

Ali Dogru, a Saudi Aramco fellow who led the research team, said using trillions of cells in a reservoir simulation was a long sought after dream for the global petroleum industry and scientific community.

“This achievement opens the door for us to simulate the Saudi Arabian peninsula in its entirety as one model using the reservoir simulation grid,” Dogru said in a Saudi Aramco press release. “This means that we will be able to examine the peninsula under the microscope for new oil and gas fields.”

Posted on January 9, 2017 by Wylie Wong, Slashdot Media Contributing Editor