The Oil & Gas industry has gone through ups and down over the years but the challenges to explore and produce commercially viable hydrocarbon remain the same. The advent of new technologies and next generation platforms provide ample opportunity to innovate and transform the industry. There are multiple prototypes leveraging the Augmented reality and Virtual reality concepts to help more efficient Oil & Gas operations.
Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that enriches visual view of the environment around us with digital information. AR technology augments graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and real-time contextual information to the world in front of us and will change the way we interact with the world. For example, most field engineers who are responsible for maintenance and operations of machines like pumps, motors, compressors on oil rigs do not have real time information about the performance and operations of the machines in front of them. With AR informative graphics, real time information will appear in your field of view over a mobile phone of glasses, and audio will coincide with whatever you see. This capability will add tremendous value by providing real time and accurate information and thereby reduce inefficiencies and downtimes.
The success of capital projects in Exploration & Production (E&P) companies depends upon the timely execution of Drilling and Completion activities. Especially for drilling operations, reduction of Non-Productive Time is dependent on availability of critical equipment. Digital Oilfield technologies have been adopted over the past decade in varying degree across the globe and we now have more intelligent drilling rigs operational with critical equipment instrumented and monitored for NPT. However, quite a lot of the critical equipment which are legacy but perfectly operational remain not instrumented and are excluded from the Digital Oilfield implementation. In most cases, to ensure availability, E&P operators and service providers operate backup for every critical piece of equipment and deploying expert maintenance engineers on every rig, which, in turn, increases the capital costs. Bringing these critical equipment as part of the digital chain is key to reduce NPT and improved capital performance.
Rig monitoring system
To perform Drilling and Completions (D&C) operations, mud pumps, generator sets, agitators, shale shakers and compressors are essential and they need to be made available almost on round-the-clock basis. One of the major challenges in ensuring high availability is lack of continuous condition monitoring of these critical equipment. Some of these equipment is very closely monitored for their performance but are seldom regularly monitored for their health. This is the primary cause of subdued performance or unexpected breakdown and longer maintenance related unplanned downtime. In addition, the electrical and mechanical engineers maintaining this equipment do not have easy and handy access to equipment condition data to plant preventive maintenance. A comprehensive rig monitoring system will aid in monitoring the health of the Rig, reasonably predict failure points and provide a platform to track rig operations.
Rig monitoring systems combining AR, Sensors and real time dash board to report, schedule and predict maintenance actives will provide necessary insights for smooth operations. AR-based application on a mobile device helps regular maintenance of key rig equipment, analyses the parameter, retrieves user manuals, provides a collaborative platform to discuss and fix issues. Image recognizing technology will provide key pointers to identify failure points. A comprehensive area/rig/well level equipment condition monitoring dashboard with real time information from sensors monitoring vibration, surface temperature, pressure, sound and magnetic field.
These sensor readings are used to determine any anomalies in bearing condition, valve condition, filter condition, belt tension, oil level and viscosity, gearbox condition and rotor or starter health. NIA analytics engine will predict occurrence of these anomalies. Artificial intelligence framework leveraging Machine learning will analyse anomalies through history match and predict critical incidents. Also, Rig Monitoring systems provide health state of each equipment in the rig and provide analytical insights about the equipment to the field electrician and mechanical engineer.
In order to provide easy and handy access to equipment condition data, the monitoring system has an Augmented Reality-enabled application over mobile devices. The condition monitoring sensors deployed over the equipment provide real time data to the AR application about the condition of the equipment. Besides, the AR app also has latest information about maintenance schedules. It is capable of fetching digitized reference and repair manuals, taking pictures of the faulty equipment, raising ticket and connecting with SME or the OEM’s helpdesk. The AR app workes on Intrinsically safe devices, to enable use in all the Zones in a Rig
The key advantages of such systems are – Non-invasive sensors which can be attached to an equipment through a powerful magnetic base using which they can be simply placed over any equipment; Gateway for transmitting the data to cloud base servers and to local servers as required; Analytical engine using highly powerful and complex analytics routine to predict failures; User-friendly apps to provide real-time equipment information, collaboration platform to discuss findings and tracker to build history of equipment performance; and, Intrinsically safe mobile devices for safe operations.
The benefits include reduction in undesirable breakdowns, unscheduled maintenance, monitored inventory, Operating or Maintenance costs and dependency on OEM. Also, improved timely availability of technical expertise and easy access to events data will assist in adopting logical decisions rather than “gut feel”.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and simulates a user's physical presence in that environment and allows the user to interact with the elements of that environment. Virtual realities artificially create sensory experience, which can include graphics, sounds and haptic feedback. VR technology helps create virtual environment of a mine, a city, or an oil reservoir and allows users to walk through these environments and perform what-if scenarios.
The Oil & Gas industry has huge potential to adapt Virtual Reality based tools. Since the success of the exploration process heavily depends on interpretation of information, VR platform can provide additional insights by providing an immersive environment to visualize and interpret. Though providing immersive environment for the geoscientists and petroleum engineers were developed during the last decade, new generation Virtual Reality technologies provide greater flexibility and cost arbitrage. These VR tools can be made available at the rig site or at the field site for collaboration and performing operations. Imagine a driller wearing a VR gear to track the drill path virtually, augmented with near real time information about the reservoir.
The Virtual Reality application for oil & gas is a 3D immersive technology application that will take the sub-surface earth model and plug it onto headgear for enhanced visual experience on-the-move. It is an application to view the reservoir, wells, geological formation, Seismic traces etc. The comprehensive static earth model containing 3D seismic data, structural data such as zones and layers, planned well deviation surveys, logs, reservoir data, faults and horizons are loaded to the VR gear Once loaded on headgear, the subsurface data will be available to field users on drill site such as drilling engineers, supervisors, well site geologists, production and reservoir engineers, to enhance decision-making during critical drilling operations. Additional information is augmented depending on the workflow for which the application is developed. For example, Directional Drilling workflow will have the planned and actual drilling path.
VR application supports features such as zoom in, zoom out and viewing the model from different directions. Alongside planned well path, the actual well path is superimposed to show the deviation from actual trajectory as the drilling has progressed. All stakeholders responsible for drilling (on well site or off site), will be able to visualize same data on their respective headgears without bulky hardware (laptops/desktops).
Such applications can provide tremendous value when used for training. Ultra-realistic, multi-angle immersive virtual reality applications can be used for training process operators and engineers in oil and gas production, processing and transportation facilities. The technology mimics on-field environment and enables effective training in a safe and controlled environment. Dynamic simulators which are used on gaming can be leveraged to provide real life scenarios to test and train engineers for working in complex environment. Dynamic process simulator creates actual plant operating conditions to provide realistic training scenarios. Scenarios also can be created for workforce development, competency assurance, project commissioning support, new hire orientation, and more efficient turnaround or shutdown planning.