As one of the largest energy companies in the world, bp is always looking for new ways to innovate with new and emerging technologies. One of these emerging technologies is quantum computing. Quantum is poised to disrupt industries with chemistry at their core, with its theoretical ability to simulate molecules and predict their properties beyond the scope of classical computers. Quantum also will affect business operations such as logistics, manufacturing, finance, security, and more.
However, the magnitude of that disruption is unclear, as is the timeline. To better prepare for the quantum future (and to gain an edge an over the competition), bp is determining how much of an impact quantum computing would have on chemistry calculations within and beyond the core of their business — and when.
For several years, bp has collaborated with Zapata on research to determine how to make quantum chemistry viable across different time horizons. We’ve since run over a thousand workflows and tens of thousands of hours of computing on Orquestra, Zapata’s quantum software platform, to inform bp’s quantum roadmap.
At the heart of our chemistry research is the variational quantum eigensolver (VQE), an essential algorithm for molecular simulation. Using Orquestra and proprietary Zapata techniques, we have benchmarked the performance of VQE across current quantum hardware, including IBM and IonQ devices, to estimate the resources that will be required for VQE to make an impact.
Although our work advanced techniques to make VQE more viable with smaller quantum devices, we estimate that a performant, enterprise-scale VQE solution will still be years away. However, our work found that there is now a portfolio of nearer-term applications that could go to production much sooner with quantum and quantum-inspired techniques.