HPC Yearbook 19/20

High-Performance Computing 2019-20

Sea of data

Robert Roe explores the use of HPC storage technology in off- shore energy exploration


nergy companies are under tremendous pressure to safely and cost-effectively extract oil and gas from undersea reservoirs. To better

understand where and when they should drill, these firms rely on seismic surveys to provide complex decision-support information. Michael Tortorello, account executive at

Panasas for Magseis-Fairfield, states: ‘Tese use cases, in particular at Magseis-Fairfield and others that we do business with, is an endpoint computing environment. Tese vessels at sea are essentially data acquisition environments. Tey are deploying echo- sounding devices for long periods of time, collecting data and then transferring it to storage on ship.’ Tis process creates huge quantities of data

that need to be pre-processed, then transferred to a datacentre for analysis, creating HPC workflow that must be rugged and reliable, while delivering high performance. ‘Te customer wants high-performance

storage, but that is not their primary concern. Teir primary concern in these use cases is ease of use and reliability. A firm comes to Panasas specifically for our appliance. Panasas has built a purpose-built system, hardware and soſtware that is easily maintained and easily managed,’ added Tortorello. Magseis Fairfield is a geophysics firm that

specialises in providing seismic 3D and 4D data acquisition services to exploration and production (E&P) companies. Using advanced ocean-bottom node (OBN) technology, the services enable the high-resolution imaging of geologic structures and reservoir data. With this data, energy companies can evaluate future opportunities and improve current reservoir development, maximising the value of their multimillion-dollar E&P projects Te company’s Marine Autonomous

Seismic System (Mass) and a range of Z technology – combined with automated


handling, deployment and retrieval systems – allow Magseis Fairfield to offer clients safe, efficient acquisition of high-quality 4D data. Magseis Fairfield has extensive experience

in seismic acquisition, from traditional ocean-bottom cable systems to their Z node design. Te company has designed a system that encapsulates the recording system, battery and sensors into one unit, removing the requirement of cable systems. Te company have more than 30

deepwater acquisition projects in the Gulf of Mexico alone. Branching out in 2009 to the Red Sea, North Sea, West Africa, Caribbean and South America, they have expanded their node system technology to the transition zone, shallow water, and permanent monitoring systems. Tese designs have been used across the globe by various companies, each recognising the benefits of this technology. Te traditional seismic acquisition relies on

at least two seismic vessels: a shooting vessel and a recording vessel or node vessel. Te shooting vessel releases high-energy sound waves into the water column, radiating down through the subsurface layers. Akin to radar, the reflection of these sound waves are used to create an image of the subsurface. Te recording vessel, in this case, a node

vessel, deploys node units to the seafloor to record the feedback reflections of those sound waves from the subsurface layers. With the combination of the two vessels, the recorded seismic data provides an image of the subsurface geologic formations, and characterises the subtle changes in active recovery reservoirs. Because node systems can be deployed in almost any survey design and record data for up to 160 days, ultra-long offset, full azimuth surveys are easily in reach. Node units are less than a metre in

diameter and, by removing the dragging of heavy optical cables on the ocean floor, they have decreased the risk of damage to existing systems. Yet increasing regulatory, shareholder and environmental demands on energy companies are intensifying the challenges of data collection and storage. Clients need detailed, high-quality

information to create more accurate reservoir models, which helps to reduce the risk of drilling errors, avoid unnecessary disruption of natural sites, and streamline resource extraction. ‘Marine surveys are changing, covering wider geographic areas and acquiring much larger data volumes offshore,’ says Janie Garcia, manager of onboard processing at Magseis Fairfield. ‘Our data storage for

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