In separate announcements, IBM disclosed that is working on quantum projects with ExxonMobil and bp (formerly British Petroleum). With ExxonMobil they are working on a project to find ways that a quantum computer can help them manage the tens of thousands of merchant ships crossing the seas to deliver the millions of items we use every day. It is a particularly complex problem because one ship can hold as many as 8,000 containers of finished goods and products in a single voyage. But an optimal solution for the many different logistical decisions could have a tremendous payoff because the yearly value of goods shipped exceeds $14 trillion. The work has involved exploring a number of different optimization algorithms including the Variational Quantum Eigensolver (VQE), Quantum Approximate Optimization Algorithm (QAOA) and Alternating Direction Method of Multiplier (ADMM) solvers with the Qiskit simulators to see which one would work best under different scenarios. Additional details about this work is described in a blog posting on the IBM Research website here and also a technical paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Quantum Engineering here.

With bp, IBM announced that bp is joining the IBM Quantum Network. Although specific projects were not described, the companies will work together in the general areas of helping to drive efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions. bp has announced its intention to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 and coincidentally, IBM has just announced a goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. For more about IBM’s announcement with bp, you can view the press release on IBM’s website here.

February 17, 2021