Oil and gas firm Neptune Energy has successfully completed a pilot programme of its new technology to boost the use of VR in oil and gas.
Offshore workers can use innovative VR technology to interact with an “ultra-realistic” 3D model of Neptune Energy’s Gjøa platform in the Norwegian North Sea.
The technology, developed by PaleBlue and used to train astronauts travelling to the International Space Station, reduces the need for offshore travel, lowers operational costs and associated emissions and supports safe operations.
Commenting on the successful pilot, Martin Borthne, Director of Operations for Neptune Energy in Norway said: “The new Virtual Reality solution allows employees and contractors to build up knowledge and awareness of the complex multi-level facility without the need to travel. Planning work operations will be safer and more efficient.
“The initiative will, together with other projects, see an estimated reduction of 30 offshore trips per year. We expect this to grow in the years ahead as digitalisation further enhances collaboration over distance, bringing immediate access to expertise and enabling preparation of activities to be carried out from onshore.”
Neptune Energy says it will use the tech for “familiarisation and safety training,” but intends to increase the scope to include other complex operational activities such as HSE-related simulations or to better understand how platform modifications will appear before they have been carried out.
In addition, the firm will expand the tech to adopt a multi-user function that will enable offshore personnel to meet onshore personnel in the virtual world.
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Egil Thomas Andersen, Account Director at PaleBlue, said: “The restrictions and all the consequences of Covid-19 have introduced challenges to operations for many companies.
“By doing the familiarisation training in a virtual world, even from home, companies can overcome travelling restrictions, save time, costs and emissions, and will be 100% prepared with crucial knowledge of the facility when they physically arrive offshore.”
The firm states that “digitising operational assets” to improve safety, productivity and reduce environmental impacts is a “key component” of its future digital strategy. The company has created digital twins of platforms in the Norwegian, UK and Dutch sectors of the North Sea.
Similar to the VR pilot on Gjøa, these also enable offshore site inspections and planning work to be carried out onshore. Neptune Energy also uses laser scan technology to carry out detailed engineering work for subsea productions developments which will be tied back to Gjøa.
The increased use of technology in the oil and gas industry is a sign that the sector is more open to move away from traditionally legacy operations and adopt more digitisation.
A report by Rystad Energy in March said that hundreds of thousands of jobs in the global oil and gas sector could be replaced by robots in the future.
The oil and gas consulting firm said that the positions could be filled using existing technology, saving billions of dollars on reduced labour costs by 2030.