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IBM said Friday it struck a deal with Royal Dutch Shell under which it will help the oil and gas giant improve its ability to predict the location of fossil fuel reserves.
The arrangement calls for IBM to lend to shell its expertise in advanced computer analytics, which Shell uses to build mathematical algorithms employed in oil and gas exploration and research.
"This collaboration is remarkable," said Gerald Schotman, executive VP for Shell's Innovation, Research & Development Group, in a statement.
"Two industrial research giants are coming together to solve a very specific, real-world problem and make the most of oil and gas reservoirs. This will not be done through expensive, experimental facilities, but by bringing together a powerful team and powerful computers so we can be smarter than before," said Schotman.
Rather than focus on finding new oil deposits, the collaboration is primarily aimed at helping Shell locate previously untapped reserves in its existing oil fields.
IBM will help by using its supercomputing prowess to automate the reconciliation of different data sets containing information about seismic activity, flow rates, rock formations, and other factors relevant to determining the odds that a particular patch of ground might hold oil or gas.
"Working with Shell is a prime example of the importance of collaborative research in the effort to build a smarter planet," said John Kelly, director of IBM Research.
The Joint Development Agreement between the two companies calls for IBM and Shell research scientists to work together in locations in the U.S. and the Netherlands.
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