A French SME boosts its offshore engineering service portfolio thanks to European HPC initiatives

The French SME, PRINCIPIA, located in southern France, manages to add to its portfolio an innovative service that helps improve the control of the dynamical behaviour of offshore structures while strongly reducing computing time. The La Ciotat-based company, which specializes in applied engineering for the offshore sector (oil and gas and renewable marine energy) and is the main developer of reference software in this field, has successfully adapted one of its simulation codes, DEEPLINES, to run on a high performance computing (HPC) system.

DEEPLINES is created by an efficient collaboration between PRINCIPIA and IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN) and is a simulation code fitted to model the dynamical behaviour of liaison structures between the bottom and the surface of offshore systems (for example, for risers, submarine cables, pipelines, anchor point, etc.). The control of the behaviour of these structures is essential for optimizing their design as well as for ensuring their performance and their long term reliability. 

 Yet, even if numerical simulation allows today a very accurate modelling, computing times rapidly become prohibitive when numerous testing conditions related to the different states of sea conditions (calm, rough or complete statistical representation of the sea states over the operational duration of the field) are taken into account. The use of HPC becomes mandatory to bring these tools in line with the constraints of draft planning in the engineering phases.

Thanks to the support of the HPC for SMEs Initiative (now SiMSEO) and the European Fortissimo project, which focus on helping SMEs benefit from numerical simulation and HPC, PRINCIPIA was able use expertise from two different research pools: code scaling expertise of the Inria Sophia Antipolis Méditerranée team and expertise on deploying its service on a commercial cloud platform from Atos/Bull.

By having adapted its code to HPC and by offering it under an “on demand” usage model, PRINCIPIA is now able to provide its clients significantly faster computing times. At global level DEEPLINES is the first code in this field of analysis available via cloud-HPC. Moreover, the results achieved also helped open the doors for analyses of offshore structures to the European HPC ecosystem. As a follow up, PRINCIPIA has been selected by the PRACE SHAPE program for adapting another of its codes dedicated to offshore engineering to the massively parallel systems of PRACE.

“Thanks to the efficient support in terms of consultancy, expertise and resources, we have been able to carry out our DEEPLINES HPC project and to rapidly bring it to the market. This innovative service immediately taken up and favoured by our industrial customers, because of its valuable impact on both quality and deadlines” says Benoît Valleteau de Moulliac, CEO of PRINCIPIA.

A cooperation like this shows that there is a lot of potential in the use of HPC for offshore engineering. EXCELLERAT would like to work together with initiatives such as PRACE SHAPE and FORTISSIMO to coordinate, expand and enhance similar collaborations of industrial users, academic researchers and HPC centres in the engineering domains, so that success stories like the above are not the exception but the rule in Europe’s engineering portfolio.

—Lena Bühler, HLRS