Accessing the inaccessible – how VR can take you offshore

Leikanger MOS D10 highres Split Screen Oil Rig

The offshore industry should look to the construction industry and make VR an integral part of the digitalisation strategy. The savings can be very real.

Published 04/02/2019 by Aleksander

AECOM, one of the worlds largest engineering companies, just slashed 1 year off a 3-year construction project. By bringing their 3D models into Virtual Reality, “programme-critical decisions could be made in a quick and informed manner”.

The same method can be applied to the construction of ships, rigs or subsea structures.

And once the 3D models exist in VR, other stakeholders can be invited in. Experiencing the offshore structures and buildings, before they are built, carry some significant benefits.

  • Staff and other professionals can spot design errors.
  • They can get familiar with the environment.
  • Owners can gain a better understanding of what is being built and how their money is spent.

These abilities are not to be underestimated. Construction mistakes can be extremely costly and less rework can mean savings to the tune of millions. The same is true for improved staff training programs.

And when the structures are built, the digital twins remain highly relevant. Just imagine how much the maintenance and operations industry can benefit from being able to access replicas of subsea structures and oil rigs 300 kilometers offshore.

The only assets you need are the 3D models and off-the-shelf VR equipment.

Having caught a glimpse of how VR can help save time and money for the Oil&Gas industry, we invite you to take a closer look at some particularly relevant applications.

Training in VR for platforms

«Traditional training methods are inherently unsafe, hard to reproduce,
expensive and environmentally harmful.» Business Insider


Ideally, you want your emergency training to take place in a controlled environment. Offshore operations happen at the mercy of Mother Nature, however, which is why much of the onboarding actually takes place onshore.

With VR, you can experience the platform or vessel in full scale and develop a good understanding of its critical infrastructure – onshore in a stable environment. No gusty winds, no diagonal rain, no seasickness. That makes the exercises easily repeatable, crucial for effective learning. It’s a capability worth emphasizing; the cost savings potential from repeating only the scenario – and not the resources – is substantial.

Various training programs can be initiated, challenging you to evacuate under different threats – fire, terrorism or extreme weather – much like you would deal with trouble in a computer game. Supervisors can even join you in VR and show you around. Every part of the 3D platform model is accessible – not least the ones that would be considered too hazardous in a real-world exercise, but are nevertheless important to consider in the event of an emergency.

Whatever the scenario, the objective remains: Get as close to the real thing as possible. VR helps you do exactly that.

Experiencing digital twins: Responsive environments for real-world events

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object or system across its lifecycle, using real-time data to enable understanding, learning and reasoning. IBM Watson IoT

The physical world changes constantly – a challenge for the makers of digital twins. But thanks to IoT-devices and high-res 3D models, we can create enriched, dynamic environments that can be experienced in VR. More than merely static models, 3D models in our day and age can incorporate live components of reality.

The result? Digital twins that respond to real-world events, and that can be accessed and utilized for a plethora of different purposes. An oil tanker, for instance, can be experienced while at sea. The VR environment can display the actual weather, time of day, speed, position, fuel level, crew status and much more. An oil and gas platform can display production rate, operational status and so forth.

In short: VR lets you experience a physical object without actually being there. Who wouldn’t want that option?