The president's blog

Submitted Jul 10, 2014

I am excited to introduce you to the latest addition to the Acceleware family, AxHeat! Officially released June 5, AxHeat is a modeling application that enables heavy oil producers to accurately simulate the impact of using radio frequency (RF) heating to mobilize in situ heavy oil reserves. The product is the first of its kind, specifically built for simulating the RF heating process within a reservoir. We have seen growing interest from oil companies researching this emerging technology and we believe AxHeat will play an important role in the commercialization of RF heating. The application integrates Computer Modelling Group Ltd.'s STARS reservoir simulation platform with Acceleware's electromagnetic simulator to accurately model the heating process within a reservoir. AxHeat tracks both the petrophysical and electromagnetic properties of the reservoir as they evolve over time, dynamically adjusting heating patterns, fluid temperatures, pressures, viscosities, etc. in response to electromagnetic radiation. For more information on RF heating download the whitepaper here

On the seismic side of the family, the product line is continuing to gain attention as the applications mature. Most notable has been the growth of AxWave, Acceleware’s 3D finite difference seismic modeling application. It took center stage at the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) 76th annual conference and exhibition held in Amsterdam June 16-19, 2014. The AxWave presentations were packed and we even ran out of brochures!  We see good growth potential for AxWave as it is of interest to a broader target market than our AxRTM and gives us a new group to target who are interested in better tools to help them design and optimize seismic surveys.

AxRTM, Acceleware’s reverse time migration (RTM) application, continues to gain popularity, with Houston based geophysical software provider GeoTomo recently signing a reseller agreement. The agreement allows GeoTomo to integrate AxRTM into the GeoThrust seismic data processing system. One person at EAGE commented “wow, you guys are everywhere now.”

The development team continues to work on the next seismic product, Full Waveform Inversion (FWI). FWI is truly a killer app for seismic processing - it has the potential to fully automate the painstakingly iterative process of manual earth model building. It will allow oil and gas producers to dramatically reduce their “where to drill” decision time and expense. 

Submitted Feb 26, 2014

Oil and gas companies will spend about US$723-billion on exploration and production (E&P) in 2014, an increase of 6.1% from 2013 according to Barclays Bank.

These rising costs, combined with the ongoing pressure for oil and gas companies to deliver higher returns for shareholders, will spark the adoption of newer technologies. While they are going to be spending more, every dollar will need to earn a return as hydrocarbons become harder to find and harder still to produce. Good news, Acceleware has some answers.

At Acceleware we are beginning to see the second tier of E&P companies embrace more advanced seismic imaging and modeling software. They’re doing this to have access to better images and more accurate information before making critical drilling decisions. Continued increases in acquisition costs and investment in deepwater drilling programs provide support for the increased adoption of RTM in the industry. Wood Mackenzie has forecast the volume of deepwater wells to more than double in the coming 10 years with close to 10% annual growth in this category alone. Any E&P company operating in complex geology knows that money invested in accurate seismic imaging will result in reduced drilling costs. With AxRTM, Acceleware’s reverse time migration software, accurate seismic imaging now has a favourable return on investment, whether they take on the imaging themselves (see Ecopetrol S.A. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. below) or rely on contractors such as Dolphin Geophysical.

Our sales of AxRTM reflect this trend with Ecopetrol, Colombia’s primary petroleum company, selecting the application to help develop a sophisticated internal seismic imaging team, allowing the company to better manage and enhance the results they receive from seismic contractors.

Australia's largest independent oil and gas company, Woodside Petroleum, is also following suit, adopting AxWave, Acceleware’s high performance seismic modeling software, to simulate data acquisition in complex geological areas.

Earlier this month we signed a reseller agreement with Open Geophysical Inc., Houston based seismic software company, to integrate and resell AxRTM within their software. Under the agreement Dolphin Geophysical ASA, a marine acquisition company, will be the initial customer. The Norwegian based company has identified reverse time migration as a crucial component for their processing and imaging services.

On the RF Heating side of the business we are continuing to see a growing demand for this emerging technology as the major E&P companies invest in R&D to combat rising production costs and unlock stranded resources. Our work to commercialize our expertise in this field is continuing as we get ready to launch AxHeat, a new software application that helps heavy oil producers model and manage the use of RF Heating in their reservoirs. Currently in beta release, we are working with several initial customers who will license the software and we have had positive feedback from the leading reservoir simulation software provider, whose software is integrated with AxHeat. This year we will be increasingly active in industry groups and events for the heavy oil and oil sands sectors as we build awareness and adoption of RF Heating.

Looking forward the next couple of months will be a busy few for the team as we attend, sponsor and present at a number of key industry events including NVIDIAs GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Oil and Gas High Performance Computing Workshop held in Houston at Rice University.

Held in San Jose, March 17-27, GTC is the world’s largest GPU developer’s conference. The event showcases the latest GPU advancements and applications and offers face-to-face interaction with industry experts. It is a key event for promoting Acceleware’s CUDA training and consulting services. As per last year, Acceleware will be teaching a number of programmer tutorials.

Relocated to new venue with a larger capacity, the Oil and Gas High Performance Computing Workshop is becoming a standard fixture in our event calendar. Acceleware’s professional services and seismic software will have an increased presence at the workshop this year with an exhibit and a technology pitch.

Well it’s back to work for me. Stayed tuned for the next update.

Submitted Aug 22, 2013

The lazy days of summer are coming to an end and fall is fast approaching. I hope you all enjoyed the summer and I’m glad to get back at my blog. Things are really heating up at Acceleware! In my last post, I promised to elaborate on why we are so excited about the prospect of heating heavy oil and bitumen reservoirs using radio frequency electrical energy (what we call RF heating). Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that unconventional oil production, most notably Alberta’s oil sands, face some perceived and some very real environmental challenges. The Globe and Mail reports that a barrel of Alberta’s oil sands crude emits 14 to 20 per cent more green house gasses (GHG) than other crudes measured on a well to wheel basis. However, it may be surprising for some people to learn that even the in-situ steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) production method of Alberta’s oil sands does not emit as much GHG as the heavy oil extracted in California.

Then there’s the water. CAPP estimates that Alberta oil sands production used 170 million m3 of fresh water in 2011, almost half of what the City of Toronto uses in one year. It should be noted that water consumption drops dramatically with the shift from mining type oil sands extraction (3.1 barrels of water per barrel of oil) to the increasingly more common SAGD extraction (0.4 barrels of water per barrel of oil), and as of 2013 it is estimated that in-situ production has surpassed mining production.

Without a doubt, unconventional oil production, whether it is Alberta oil sands or other heavy oil deposits, uses water and energy in the extraction process. It is in everyone’s best interests to reduce these footprints. This is where RF heating comes in. What if you could reduce or eliminate the use of water in in-situ extraction of bitumen or heavy oil? What if you could use a more efficient way of heating those reservoirs to raise the viscosity of the oil so that it can be produced? What if you could produce oil from reservoirs that have no other production method? RF heating has the potential to do all these things. Instead of using steam to heat the reservoir (which uses water and emits GHG) RF heating uses electrical energy to heat the reservoir. Early estimates suggest that RF heating could be substantially more efficient than steam, so even if the electricity is produced using fossil fuel, it will emit less GHG. Not to mention that the electrical energy for RF heating could be generated from renewable sources – solar, wind or hydro.

Acceleware is helping several companies determine if RF heating is viable in a number of different applications – from oil sands to heavy oil, in Alberta and around the world. We have developed unique skills and software to analyze the effectiveness of RF heating in these applications. In addition, we are developing unique antenna designs, as we believe each application requires an optimized design. Soon we will be participating in pilot tests which will further demonstrate the effectiveness of this technology. The technology is still in its infancy, but if RF heating works it could be the biggest innovation in unconventional oil production in decades. A quick web search will show that several organizations are interested and actively working on RF heating. To name a few, Companies such as Suncor, Nexen, PDVSA, CononcoPhillips, Laricina, and ENI are studying, and in some cases testing the technology. Acceleware can participate in the RF heating space in a number of ways. We already provide simulation, antenna design and production monitoring expertise to our customers. We have coupled our electromagnetic simulation software with the industry leading reservoir simulation software to provide an end-to-end simulation solution. RF heating simulation requires a perfect synergy of expertise in electromagnetics, subsurface geophysics and reservoir knowledge and high performance computing – precisely Acceleware’s strengths. In the future, we could also participate in system integration including antenna and power system manufacturing. I’ll keep you posted of our progress in this exciting development.

Submitted Jun 07, 2013

Wow time flies, I’ve been promising this blog entry for a while so here goes. Exciting things are happening at Acceleware and as we move through 2013 Acceleware is more and more focused on oil and gas solutions and services. The Acceleware team continues to blend our in-house expertise in HPC, Geophysics and Electromagnetics to offer the energy industry technology solutions that are unique and compelling.

We started the year in Q1 with a strategic move to exit the medical imaging market via the licensing of AxRecon™ to SCANCO Medical of Zürich. This transaction marks another step in our ongoing strategy to focus on the Oil and Gas industry. Acceleware will retain the IP rights to the technology and we wish SCANCO success in expanding the use of AxRecon in the medical market.

In my last blog entry I discussed the difficulties facing oil and gas companies as they explore for harder to find petroleum reservoirs. Acceleware’s seismic imaging products such as reverse time migration (RTM), are helping to solve these challenges with state of the art algorithms and computational performance. RTM has become a standard imaging technique for complex offshore geologies such as the sub-salt challenges presented in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

RTM can also be used for challenging geologies on-shore. Land based RTM is an emerging market and an exciting opportunity for Acceleware. The land based RTM market requires lower operating costs meaning it has to be faster while using less hardware. Acceleware’s AxRTM™ is designed to run on a variety of platforms, and we are continuously improving the performance of the product. In 2012, utilizing the latest NVIDIA Kepler GPUs and enhanced software engineering we increased AxRTM performance by over 300%. In 2013, our developers are working hard to provide even better improvements. Acceleware’s seismic software partners are excited about the opportunity of using faster RTM for land exploration.

June is a big trade show month at Acceleware and on the 10th, Acceleware will be heading to London, UK to exhibit at the 75th European Association of GeoScientists and Engineers (EAGE) Conference. It will be stimulating to interact again with the market including potential and existing customers and our partners. Look for some exciting product announcements as well.

The following week will see the Acceleware team in Leipzig, Germany for the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) show. With HPC being such a key component to our value proposition for Oil and Gas, ISC is another opportunity to stay relevant and informed in this market.

Soon I will post another entry describing our recent involvement in a promising enhanced oil production technology called radio frequency heating. In the meantime, please review the presentation I gave at the Annual General Meeting of Acceleware shareholders.

Submitted Dec 20, 2012

First of all, my apologies for the long interval between blog posts. Q4 has been a very busy time for us – we attended two key trade shows, completed several new product releases and have been cleaning up year-end consulting projects.

In my last blog post I tried to relay the excitement we have over our seismic imaging product road map. We now know that we are not alone in this impression. We saw this first hand at SEG 2012 as interested attendees piled into our booth to hear the technical presentations featuring our current and future products (reverse time migration, elastic forward modeling, and full waveform inversion). This year’s SEG was the most successful ever for our company, the number of interested leads, meetings and general contact was the highest we have ever seen. Our recently announced agreement with DownUnder GeoSolutions was a deal that really came together during SEG. In addition to this and other direct leads, our partners Paradigm and Tsunami  also reported excellent traffic and interest. Not only did we see an uptick in software sales leads, but also in consulting leads. We had several meetings with existing clients that have already turned into new business. We also generated leads with new clients.  Overall, it was just another indication that the oil and gas sector is going to be extremely important for Acceleware going forward. We are hoping the EAGE (sort of a European SEG) show in London in June 2013 will continue this trend.

This quarter we also attended and exhibited at the SC12 a supercomputing conference held in Salt Lake City, which was equally successful with a steady stream of traffic interested in our consulting services and training. In addition to selling services, SC12 is about our partners. All of our partners including NVIDIA, Intel, Altera, AMD and Microsoft, had a large presence at SC12.  In particular it was interesting to note that both NVIDIA and Intel used Acceleware RTM benchmarks to promote their new hardware platforms. NVIDIA’s Kepler K10 and Intel’s Xeon Phi Coprocessor could see substantial demand within the oil and gas sector. We were fortunate enough to be invited to speak in a number of partner booths as well as deliver a technical tutorial as part of the conference program, providing great exposure for our products and services. Shows like SC12 allow us to participate in and even drive new HPC trends. Our customers, particularly those in oil and gas, have consistently been early adopters of new HPC technology. Our ability to help shape new hardware platform designs, and then quickly understand, adopt, and optimize for those platforms is highly valued by our customers.

On a sad note, Acceleware lost a treasured member of our family recently. Roberto Sebastien Palacio Jaramillo died in a tragic motor vehicle accident in October. Roberto will be remembered by everyone here as a gifted, tireless and creative software developer, but more importantly as a true friend, a real adventurer, and a wonderful person. Our thoughts go out to Roberto’s family in Colombia: his mother, Esther; father, Roberto; and brother, Mateo. Rest in peace, Roberto.

Submitted Aug 31, 2012

I think it may be a good idea to explain why Acceleware is so excited about our seismic imaging roadmap. It is a truism in the petroleum industry that “all the easy oil has been found.” New meaningful reserves will only be discovered using innovative technology and techniques. Acceleware is assisting the world’s largest oil & gas players find new oil with its seismic imaging products. So how exactly does this work?

Seismic data acquisition and processing play a key role in oil & gas exploration. The aim is to use seismic data to provide a greater understanding of sub-surface geological structures and, hence, to determine their suitability for trapping valuable hydrocarbon reservoirs. Essentially, it’s used to decide where to drill wells. The cost (and risk) of drilling dry holes particularly off-shore is becoming astronomical. Add that to the fact that we are now searching for “hard” oil leads to the requirement for advanced seismic processing.

For the entire history of seismic processing, the ability to model the Earth physics has been limited by the computational power available at the time. Until relatively recently, seismic processing techniques were rather simplistic, necessarily relying on gross simplifying approximations purely because anything more complex was beyond the scope of existing computational resources. In the days of easy oil, conventional seismic processing was sufficient. However, the “hard” oil is now in complex geological formations (sub-salt, shale, sub-basalt, etc). Places where conventional seismic techniques have been challenged to successfully image. But now, advances in computer architecture over the last few years - particularly GPU computing, combined with improved algorithmic techniques have made it possible to process seismic data in much more accurate and realistic ways, honouring the physics of seismic wave transmission and reflection to unprecedented degrees. This is how the “hard” oil is going to be found.

How will Acceleware help? First we need to understand how oil & gas companies use seismic data. At the risk of oversimplifying the process, here is how it works. Someone determines that a particular geological formation is a candidate for exploration, but in order to determine where to drill a well an accurate 3D geological model is required. A decision is made to “shoot some seismic” – that is design a seismic acquisition program (a survey) that will provide clues to the underlying geology. Once the seismic survey is designed, the data is acquired in the field and then processed. At first the data is processed in a fairly conventional sense to produce a seismic image. Processing requires that the geophysicist already has a model of the earth. Usually the initial models are crude approximations, so processing is performed iteratively with the model being updated each time. At some point a decision is made that more advanced processing is required to refine the model in an area of interest. One such advanced method is Reverse Time Migration (RTM). Once an accurate image is produced a geophysicist must interpret the image and build a full 3D geological model which can be used to pick an exploration target and drill a well. The results of the well are used to confirm the 3D model at that point. The company may then decide to produce the well, acquire more data, drill more wells, or abandon the prospect. Acceleware assists oil & gas companies by developing advanced seismic imaging methods and techniques that reduce the time invested in this inherently iterative process.

At the core of any new advanced seismic processing method is accurate modeling of seismic wave propagation through the Earth. Thus, whereas many of the older methods rely on viewing seismic energy travelling along discrete rays (very often in straight lines), the newer methods use detailed physics to accurately model propagation of a full 3D seismic wavefield, accounting for propagation in all directions, as well as proper representation of reflection and refraction of the wavefield through the varying rock properties of the sub-surface.

Such detailed physics-based wavefield propagation modelling is at the center of Acceleware’s industry-leading Reverse Time Migration product (AxRTM™) and its derivatives. At its core, the AxRTM library is a high performance wave propagation engine. That engine can be used to generate highly accurate simulations of seismic field experiments (forward modelling), perform RTM imaging, and will soon provide Full Waveform Inversion (FWI) capabilities. RTM is very much the current state-of-the-art in seismic imaging, overcoming many of the limitations of simpler imaging techniques, providing the clearest possible image of even the most complex geological environment. The standalone forward modelling mode of AxRTM is very useful in seismic survey design, understanding the interaction of the wavefield with complex geology, and in interpretation of seismic data.

The current roadmap for Acceleware seismic products will further enhance the company’s position at the leading edge of new seismic imaging technologies by building on AxRTM in two different directions. The first direction will be to include modeling of full elastic wavefields. Almost all seismic imaging done today assumes that seismic waves are purely compressional, i.e. they behave like acoustic, or sound waves. However, full seismic wavefields also include so-called shear waves, which may carry additional valuable information, for example the fluid content of the geology. Analysis of these shear waves requires full elastic modeling, which is set to become a huge growth area within the seismic industry over the next few years. While full elastic RTM is still some way off within the industry, Acceleware is well on the way towards taking the first step, by including a full elastic modeling capability in the AxRTM family of products. The first version of the elastic modeling product is scheduled for release later this year.

The second new AxRTM derivative product on the roadmap is Full Waveform Inversion (FWI). This is pretty much the Holy Grail in the exploration seismic industry. The ultimate aim is to have a computational tool which takes only recorded seismic data as input and automatically generates a detailed and accurate model of the Earth. This is very different to the current workflow, which requires a lot of manual input (e.g. from geophysical interpreters) over a long iterative cycle, usually involving many different computational tools, and in the end only results in an image of limited quality. With FWI it is imperative to have a high-performance wave propagation engine, such as that in AxRTM. Research on FWI is already at an advanced stage within Acceleware and is showing some great results. The current roadmap envisages release of a first FWI product in 2013. Interest from potential customers is already intense! Well, that’s all I have for now on this fascinating subject – I hope you find it useful.

Submitted Jul 18, 2012

New Offices

At the beginning of June Acceleware moved into a new office space. We are excited about the new location as it is closer to downtown, offers excellent coffee and ice cream nearby, and is a block away from the Calgary Stampede, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year! The new office also has an upgraded server room, and better training facilities. A nice upgrade!

Tradeshows

We recently exhibited at the European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers (EAGE) annual show in Copenhagen Denmark. The show provided many excellent opportunities to speak with customers and partners about our future seismic and CSEM imaging product road map. Judging from what we saw and heard at EAGE, Acceleware is at the forefront of Reverse Time Migration (RTM) technology and our roadmap is exactly what the market needs. Look for some new product introductions soon.

Acceleware also exhibited at the International Supercomputing Show (ISC 2012) in Hamburg, Germany in mid-June. Our focus at this show is on our core high performance computing capabilities with GPUs, multi-core CPUs and our training workshops. Customers and partners were keen to see the latest features we are working on in our industry leading FDTD electro-magnetic simulation library and the RTM roadmap we unveiled in Copenhagen.

New Hardware

This year NVIDIA has released a new GPU, the Kepler. One version of the Kepler designed for compute applications is the K10 and at first blush it appears very well suited to seismic imaging applications like RTM. We are currently updating our AxRTM library to talk advantage of all that K10 has to offer. Preliminary tests show that AxRTM runs up to 80% faster on a K10 than NVIDIA’s previous M2090 GPU. In addition to Kepler, Intel is also developing a new HPC platform called MIC (Many Integrated Core). We are currently evaluating how MIC will fit into our product plans.

New Training

2012 has seen an expansion in the schedule of our CUDA and OpenCL parallel programming training courses. The new addition to the 2012 roster is a course in C++ AMP, a parallel programming language developed by Microsoft and supported by NVIDIA and AMD. Our C++ AMP courses are presented in partnership with Microsoft and benefit from the software giant’s marketing support.

New Synergies

Ever since Acceleware starting developing seismic applications in 2008, we have been looking for ways we can develop synergies with our existing software and skills. While Acceleware’s RTM seismic imaging software uses the same core finite difference propagator as our FDTD electro-magnetic simulation library, we are seeing bigger intersections in 2012. One such area is in Controlled Source Electro-Magnetics (CSEM). CSEM uses EM radiation to illuminate subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs. We are currently developing an FDTD based CSEM library which we believe will dramatically cut CSEM data processing time. A second area is the emerging technology of RF heating of heavy oil and oil sands reservoirs. Many companies are involved in developing enhanced oil production techniques using radio frequency radiation. We are providing consulting and simulation services to some of these companies in this exciting new field.

Website Refresh

As you can see we have totally revamped our website, with the aim of organizing content to appeal to out multiple stakeholders: customers, shareholders, and potential investors. Let the marketing department know what you think.

Upcoming

Acceleware will be exhibiting at SC 2012 in Salt Lake City, and we will be exhibiting and presenting a paper at SEG 2012 in Las Vegas in the fall of 2012. So we are looking forward to continued interesting times! Check back here for updates.