Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are becoming increasingly popular in many industrial sectors but the uptake in oil and gas has, in comparison, been very modest. There is little doubt that these technologies will have a growing influence in our recreational lives over the next few years, as the hardware capability increases, costs decrease, and applications become more widely available. The real strength of these technologies is their capability to disseminate information to the user in a truly immersive experience. One area where this could be very valuable in our industry is in the support of drilling and production operations. Real-time Operations Centres (RTOCs) are now in widespread use but these suffer from high capital and operating costs, they are difficult and expensive to reconfigure and are often difficult to engage with from a remote location. Conversely, a Virtual Real-time Operations Centre (vROC) is low cost, can be configured quickly and decommissioned readily when no longer required. With modern networking configurations it is easy to connect from anywhere. This paper describes the first developments of a vROC.
A common understanding or shared situational awareness is essential for making the best operational decisions in the shortest possible time. This has been the main driver for the development of collaborative working and has resulted in the development of a wide range of work spaces ranging from smaller Collaborative Work Environments (CWEs) through to large scale RTOCs and interactive visualisation centres. The vROC replaces the need for the user to relocate to these physical areas. By deploying a 3D headset, they can enter the 3D virtual workspace and work with colleagues in true collaboration. This project has enabled data to be visualised within the workspace in the same way that it would be seen in a physical room with conventional display panels.
This project is in the early stages of development, but it has shown already how quickly a vROC may be configured and populated with live and historical data from different sources. Using 3D CAD models, photogrammetric representations and other spatial data, process plants, reservoirs and wells can be brought into the vROC, annotated with real time data and experienced by all users. We have developed live trends and have animated models to highlight alarm situations.
At a time when operators need to minimise their operating costs whilst maintaining top performance the use of virtual work environments is likely to become a major contributor to cost savings.