The sediments below the deep and ultra-deep waters of the US Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico shelter rich oil reserves, sometimes as much as 40,000 ft from the surface. Minerals Management Service (MMS), the federal agency in the U.S. Department of the Interior that manages the nation's oil, natural gas and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf in federal offshore waters, estimates that the Gulf of Mexico holds 37 billion barrels of "undiscovered, conventionally recoverable" oil.

These reserves are very difficult to find and reach due to thick layers of salt that preclude the imaging and visualization of the oil-bearing sands underneath. The oil industry uses sophisticated technologies to locate and visualize these exploratory objectives. These technologies are computing intensive and the success to properly "see underneath" depends largely on the power of the supercomputers used. It is remarkable that public benchmarks show that the Cell/BE Processors perform the computation of algorithms central to seismic imaging, 40 times faster than leading brand processors used in today's supercomputers. That increase in computer power makes feasible the application of imaging technologies that until today have been considered as a utopia in the oil industry, allowing more reliable exploration.

The Kaleidoscope Project seeks exploitation of Cell/BE unparalleled properties for the creation of the next generation seismic imaging technologies specifically tailored to the Processor for the visualization of the earth interior and the adaptation of existing imaging technologies used in oil exploration by exploiting the Cell/BE Processor unparalleled properties. The output from the Kaleidoscope Project will be faster tools, by several orders of magnitude, more reliable software to visualize below the thick layers of salt present in the Gulf of Mexico and therefore reducing significantly the exploration risks and making accessible oil reserves that otherwise would be invisible to the industry.

The Kaleidoscope Project is a "dream team" partnership of top geophysicists, computer scientists and organizations from around the world has been created by Repsol YPF, a Spanish integrated oil company with important assets in the US Gulf of Mexico, 3DGeo, a leader Houston-based imaging company formed by Stanford University professor and seismic imaging pioneer, Biondo Biondi, and the Barcelona Supercomputer Center (BSC). The BSC hosts the MareNostrum, powered by IBM, the third largest computer of the in Europe. The Kaleidoscope Project has privileged access through the BSC to Cell/BE based systems and technology because the BSC is one of the few research centers in the world developing libraries and codes for such processors.

© 2007 Barcelona Supercomputing Center