IBM Research| (none)

Smarter natural resources discovery

IBM Research - Brazil


Ulisses Mello Natural Resources
Research Leader.

Brazil is a country rich in natural resources. Some are visible and known, such as 22 percent of the total arable land, and 15 percent of the total potable water existing in the planet. Also known is the country’s vegetable coverage and its corresponding fauna, which creates a unique biodiversity.

Recently, some important discoveries have been made, indicating that there are other sources of natural richness beyond the obvious. For instance, off Brazil’s coastline, large petroleum reserves have been found under deep water and bellow thick salt rocks (pre-salt sediments). In general, this country of continental dimension is the perfect spot to accommodate and benefit from our Smarter Planet global agenda. For this reason, one of the pillars of our lab will be dedicated to natural resources intelligent management: from discovery to exploration and logistics.

A special focus will be given to the areas of oil & gas, bio-fuels, mining, and water. In oil & gas we will address the sustainability and safety of the pre-salt exploration and production. One of the biggest challenges in pre-salt exploration is related to the geological complexity of the environment where the oil and gas wells are located. The adequate understanding and efficient exploration and exploitation in this new environment is strongly dependent on massive data gathering and management, imaging, model development, robust mathematical modeling and scalable simulation, as well as proper visualization. All those needs must rely on the intersection of domain knowledge, applied mathematics, computational sciences, and high performance computing.

Some examples of the initial areas that we will concentrate our efforts are:

Computational Geosciences: large-scale basin modeling, inversion methods and data assimilation, seismic imaging, and highly scalable reservoir simulation, etc.

Integrated Operations & Logistics: stream computing applied to integrated operations, closed-loop optimization, condition-based maintenance, numerical optimization applied to Integrated Operations, offshore logistics optimization, etc.

Bio-fuels: Geographic Information Systems-based analytics and logistics.

Looking far beyond the eyes, under the deep see: a spectacular image of some of the subsurface data available. In this picture, the bright colors represent subsalt oil and gas reservoirs.



Deep sea image of some subsurface data available: In this picture, the bright colors represent subsalt geology and hydrocarbon reservoirs.

Selected publications:

Mello, U. T., Rodrigues, J R, Rossa, A, 2009, A Control-Volume Finite-Element Method for Three-Dimensional Multiphase Basin Modeling, Marine and Petroleum Geology, 26:504-518. E. Haber, L. Horesh, and L. Tenorio, Numerical methods for optimal experimental design of large-scale ill-posed problems, Inverse Problems vol. 24, no. 5, 2008 J.R.P. Rodrigues, A. Wächter and A. Conn, F.P.T. da Silva, 2006, Combining Adjoint Calculations and Quasi-Newton Methods for Automatic History Matching SPE Europec/EAGE Paper 99996 ,Society of Petroleum Engineers. Mello, U. T. and Cavalcanti, P. R., 2003, A Topologically Based Framework for 3-D Basin Modeling. In Duppenbecker and Marzi, eds., Multidimensional basin modeling, AAPG/Datapages Discovery Series, No 7, p.255-269. Anderson, R. N., Guerin, G., Mello, U. T., He, W., 1998, 4-D Seismic Reservoir Simulation in a South Timbalier 295 Turbidite Reservoir. The Leading Edge, 17(10):1416-1418. Mello, U. T. and Henderson, M. E., 1997, Techniques for including large deformation associated with salt and non-vertical fault motion in basin modeling, Marine and Petroleum Geology, v.14(5), pp. 551-564. Mello, U. T. and Karner, G. D. -1996- Development of sediment overpressure and its effect on thermal maturation: Application to the Gulf of Mexico basin. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v.80(9):1367-1396. Mello, U. T.; Karner, G. D. and Anderson, R. N. -1995- The role of salt rock in modifying the maturation history of sedimentary basins. Marine and Petroleum Geology, v.12(7), p. 697-716. Mello, U. T.; Anderson, R. N. and Karner, G. D. -1994- Salt restrains maturation in subsalt plays. Oil and Gas Journal. Jan. 31, p. 101-107 Mello, U. T.; Karner, G. D. and Anderson, R. N. -1994- A physical explanation for the positioning of the depth to the top of overpressure in shale-dominated sequences in the Gulf Coast basin, United States. Journal of Geophysical Research, v.99, p. 2775-2789. Mello, U. T. -1989 - Tectonic controls in the stratigraphy of Potiguar basin: An integration of geodynamical models (In Portuguese). Boletim de Geociências da Petrobrás v.3(4):347-364. Mello, U. T. and Bender, A. A.-1988- On Isostasy at the Equatorial Margin of Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Geociências, v.18(3): 237-246.