IBM to Help Shell Manage Oil Fields

Michael Vizard

Given all the issues tied to petroleum, anything that makes managing limited oil resources more efficient is going to be a very good thing.

IBM today announced that it is working with Royal Dutch Shell to research the use of predictive analytics to manage oil fields more efficiently. As oil companies tap into these fields, water displaces oil. This moves pockets of oil around the field. Ideally, the oil company wants to push those pockets of oil closer to the well.



Using IBM predictive analytics software, Shell has begun to identify the seismic signature of various oil deposits, said Ulisses Mello, IBM's lead researcher for the project. This information then allows Shell to manipulate the oil repositories in the direction of the most efficient well.

This marks the second Shell announcement related to the use of IT to more efficiently manage its oil reserves. Shell recently started working with Hewlett-Packard using advanced sensor technology that makes it easier to locate oil within the field in the first place.


In general, IBM is positioning its predictive analytics portfolio as a cornerstone of its Smarter Planet initiatives that are all designed to help customers use IBM software to enhance existing business processes or create new ones. IBM claims to be working on predictive analytics with 250,000 clients worldwide after spending $10 billion acquiring 14 companies in this space since 2005. The company also claims to have 4,000 consultants, including 200 mathematicians, working on analytics across seven global centers.

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