ADCO turns to Linux cluster for reservoir simulations

The Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) has deployed Red Hat Enterprise Linux cluster from Sun Microsystems to increase its data processing power and run the oil major's reservoir simulation software.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  October 31, 2004

|~|MikeGrayston_Sun_MENA111.jpg|~|Mike Grayston, project manager for Sun Microsystems in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region. |~|The Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) has deployed a Linux-based high performance cluster from Sun Microsystems to run its reservoir simulation software.

The UAE-based energy firm, which produces more than two million barrels per day of crude oil from its 1200 production wells, is responsible for half of UAE’s oil production. This high volume of drilling generates a huge amount of information; hence ADCO needed additional processing power to crunch the data generated by the reservoir simulation software quicker and more effectively.

“ADCO’s criterion was to run simulations three times quicker than they currently were being done, so they could work efficiently and take businesses decisions faster. With the new high performance Linux grid, ADCO can achieve throughputs three times faster and analyse more accurately,” explains Mike Grayston, project manager for Sun Microsystems in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region.

Prior to deploying the Linux solution from Sun, ADCO used Irix based workstations from (SGI), which took several days and sometimes even weeks to run the applications. While the Unix systems scaled up to most of the oil company’s IT processing requirements, speed and limited control over the proprietary system was an issue. Instead of writing off its IT investments though, ADCO decided to ramp up the throughput by supplementing it with Linux and standard hardware.

“The choice [to upgrade] was not based on the vendors products but [on the merit] of the solution. Instead of being locked in with a proprietary solution, we opted for a commodity-cluster, with standard off the shelf processors and open standards like Linux,” says Masoud Said Al Mughairy, IT systems coordinator, ADCO.

Sun, which has traditionally been a proprietary Unix vendor (Solaris) selling SPARC hardware, argues that the Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based solution it offered ADCO, which runs on Intel x86 chipsets and utilises Sun’s Control Station cluster management software, was determined by product availability.

“ADCO had a preference for open source software to minimise licensing costs and hardware wise, the price point was a lot lower per CPU. [But] at the time of testing, we had only ported Linux on V65 not Solaris — so it was just a case of timing. Things have changed now. For future upgrades, we are advising ADCO to move to AMD’s x86 processors and Solaris 10,” says Grayston.

Once the deal had been finalised, the six-week project kicked off with Sun’s regional partner, Middle East Data Systems (MDS), turning to the Sun’s custom server manufacturing facility in the UK.

“Pre-building and testing these systems in Scotland saved ADCO a lot of time and effort. In doing so, ADCO also reduced the number of boxes shipped, the costs and installed the hardware faster,” says Grayston. “We also organised back-to-back agreements with all the support companies and vendors to hold spares locally for eliminating downtime,” he adds.

At the heart of ADCO’s cluster network is high-performance, packet-communication and switching technology from Myricom and Extreme Networks, which connects the workstations and servers. When it comes to crunching data the grid first processes all of the oil company’s information.

The processed data is then pumped into Eclipse reservoir simulation software from Schlumberger. With approximately 551 gigaflops of floating point power, as gauged by the Linpack benchmarks, ADCO’s entire drilling process has been accelerated. In fact, the project has been so successful that plans are already in place to ramp up the processing power and migrate to a 64-bit platform.

“The Sun cluster has enabled the entire ADCO team to access vital up-to-date information on all aspects of our oil reserves and operations. It’s 32-bit now, but we plan to move to 64-bit next year, once the applications and technology matures,” adds Al Mughairy. ||**||

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