Empowering geoscientists with more deskside high-performance computing power could increase oil and gas production overall, a new survey released by Microsoft has found.

The Microsoft High-Performance Computing Oil and Gas Industry Survey 2007, conducted by US-based Gelb Consulting Group, shows a trend toward geoscientists in the oil and gas industry taking more personal control of their technical computing environments.

“Clearly, this research shows that oil and gas experts know the impact their work has on their companies’ success,” said Craig Hodges, director of the US Energy Industry Unit at Microsoft. “They appreciate having computing power at their fingertips and also require smoother integration with the applications they use in analysing and reporting the information on which they make critical decisions.”

The online survey was conducted in February 2007 and includes responses from more than 100 qualified oil and gas industry experts worldwide. It found 81% said more ready access to high-performance computing (HPC) capability could increase oil and gas production, while 86% computing power at their deskside and 69% prefer computing power at their desktops.

Over half (61%) reported that having the capability to run additional tasks and iterations would reduce project risk. And 56% prefer to schedule their own jobs to a technical computing or HPC cluster rather than refer to a cluster administrator to manage the job queue. This is when 25% of computing-intensive scientific applications still take from overnight to more than a week to run.

“Since the mid-1990s, the upstream oil and gas industry has had the goal of achieving dramatic cost savings in the area of technical computing,” said John Elmer, president of Gelb Consulting Group. “This goal is being achieved today. For example, it used to be the case that geosciences applications managers would not let go of their UNIX machines for mission-critical applications. The tide has now turned with smart-client PCs and applications reaching a level of maturity, reliability and stability.”