Oil and Gas Industry Shifts to Virtual Reality

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The oil and gas industry is widely using VR technology to train and minimize risks for engineers. Nowadays, enterprises in different industries understand what it takes to be agile. Oil and gas companies face various difficulties and complex devices in the workplace since the people and the machines exist in a hazardous environment including flammable substances, high pressures and high voltage, and extreme weather conditions. In these operations, incidents may happen – in case the safety working procedures are not taken after.

Talking about subsea operations, VR technology assists in training future pilots of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), the underwater robots operating on the subsea installations.

In daily operations, VR and AR allow engineers to monitor equipment without being physically present at the location, as well as train employees without putting them in danger of affecting the normal work routine. Instead of having to fly out in person to the off-field regions in which oil and gas companies operate, AR remote assistance can be used, and an onshore support engineer can help an oil rig crew member, seeing the equipment through his eyes.

Unlike manufacturing industries, oil and gas production often takes place in rather remote locations, onshore and offshore. VR technology can very convenient to use while training crews for offshore work. Recently, DNV released a new Maritime Simulator System standard, which now will cover cloud-based distant learning simulators and virtual reality training. There will be an opportunity for crew certifications to be completed in VR simulators.

VR applications in the oil and gas industry include safety and rescue, lifeboat, crane, drilling, and many other training types. As even routine operations require thousands of executed man-hours, the importance of proper training cannot be undervalued.

New VR technologies, including sensors and linked devices, are intersecting with these initiatives. A good example of the usability of VR simulators would be Neptune Energy oil company using VR technology to provide oil platform familiarization to oil engineers.

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Equinor, a Norwegian company, which is a leading explorer for the oil and gas industry, uses AR and VR solutions to create 3D simulations of its offshore assets and operations. The company works with 3D models based on seismic imagery to assess the potential for hydrocarbon reserves. Recently, Equinor and the Helideck Certification Agency (HCA) have performed the first virtual offshore helideck inspection with the use of AR and VR devices.

As oil and gas organizations set up use cases and go beyond pilot applications, the enterprise potential of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality continues to expand.