The Oil and Gas industry is going through ‘the Great Crew Change’ which means the dominant experienced generation will pass on the baton to the millennials over the next few years. Premiums are placed on a newer generation to assume increasing job responsibilities without compromising on the safety and quality. However, the traditional approach of classroom sessions and on-the-job training will not be enough to deliver in-sync to the expectation. The training must be amplified with advanced technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) that enhances the workforce's knowledge and confidence.
Visualization is one of the greatest abilities of humankind, and with the advancement of computing technology, this concept has been translated as Augmented and Virtual Reality. In the high-risk setup like construction, military, aviation or energy, the visualization techniques can combat the future risks and can even save lives.
The oil and gas industry has introduced AR/VR Immersive Training Systems, which is a 3D engineering tool that connects control room operators, maintenance, and field personnel in a single realistic simulated learning environment. The system also allows to capture and retain operational knowledge and technical expertise during the replacement of the experienced operators with the new workforce. It ensures safety and unhindered plant operation and performance.
Augmented Reality (AR) in the oil and gas sector provides a visual view of the system along with the digital information. It provides graphics, real-time data, and feedback. Field engineers can also perform maintenance task by using AR informative graphics, resulting in the better assessment of the issues and reduced downtimes. It can also be used in the monitoring of the critical equipment for preventive and corrective maintenance in rigs, exploration and production units. It is a great tool for on-the-job training and keeping your workforce updated with latest learnings.
Virtual reality (VR) simulation mimics the real-world scenario. The user can interact with the elements and can even perform tasks virtually through sensory experience. This is one of the best learning tools for the upcoming generation. It enables them to learn about the oil reservoir, rigs, and other equipment in a life-like setting, without being physically present in the hazardous environment. They can also learn about the possible hiccups and the ways to combat them. By using 3D immersive technology, one can zoom in and zoom out the viewing model and can compare the expected system with the actual to learn more about the deviation. Even the real-life mock-ups can be created to train the workforce better.
Benefits of training
· Fast commissioning and start-up time
With the real-world plant training of the operators, supervisors, managers, field engineers, and maintenance staff the company can minimize the project risk considerably and prevent delays due to plant commissioning and start-up.
· Save cost on Infrastructure
The cost of training your personnel in real setup means a huge expenditure for the company in providing the facility, training staff, and equipment. However, with simulations, the personnel can easily learn to operate, manage and maintain the equipment without any expenses on infrastructure. The technology can also assist in case-study of oil drilling platforms, processing plants, rigs, refineries, which comprises of the most complex machinery and process.
· Fast and efficient training
The real-time training requires long duration due to a mix of the classroom session, on-the-job training, plant or site visit. However, VR offers the same level of training without much movement and expenditure in considerably less time. Thus the simulated learning system makes the training process highly reliable, sustainable, efficient, effective, and pocket-friendly.
· Compliance with safety parameters
3D models simulate the real work conditions and enhance the understanding level of the workers and equip them to deal with any risks or unsafe situations and ensure adherence to the safety compliances.
· Improve first-time fix rates
The upstream segment is usually located in the remote or offshore location which means the cost of installation and maintenance is high due to accessibility issues. The technicians can be trained about the facilities in advance before reaching to perform periodic maintenance and first-time fixes.
· Conduct primary diagnosis
AR/VR platform aided with the integration from the sensor's operating system can provide historical data about the facilities and help to conduct training that enables the technician to make an informed decision. The engineer learns to conduct a first-level diagnostic and ascertain the extent of the problem before reaching the site.
The future of Augmented and Virtual reality is moving beyond the ‘virtual view’ to a more ‘data-oriented virtual view’. The idea is to obtain relevant historical and real-time data via enterprise system or IoT- based system to deal with any system error or failure. When the personnel is trained using the simulation and 3D models they are better equipped to deal with real-time situations and can help in creating innovative solutions at a fraction of cost.
The real time training requires long duration due to a mix of classroom session, on-the-job training, plant or site visit. However, VR offers the same level of training without much movement and expenditure in considerably less time. Thus the simulated learning system makes the training process highly reliable, sustainable, efficient, effective, and pocket-friendly.
3D models simulate the real work conditions and enhances the understanding level of the workers and equips them to deal with any risks or unsafe situations and ensures adherence to the safety compliances.
The upstream segment is usually located in the remote or offshore location which means the cost of installation and maintenance is high due to accessibility issues.The technicians can be trained about the facilities in advance before reaching to perform periodic maintenance and first-time fixes.
AR/VR platform aided with the integration from operational system can provide historical data of the facilties and help to conduct training that enable the technician to make informed decision. The engineer learns to conduct a first-level diagnostic and ascertain the extent of problem before reaching the site.
The future of Augmented and Virtual reality is moving beyond the ‘virtual view’ to a more ‘data-oriented virtual view’. The idea is to obtain relevant historical and real-time data via enterprise system or IoT- based system to deal with any system error or failure. When the personnel are trained using the simulation and 3D models they are better equipped to deal with real-time situations and can help in creating innovative solutions at a fraction of cost.
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The Permian is in desperate need of pipelines. That much is true. There is so much shale liquids sloshing underneath the Permian formation in Texas and New Mexico, that even though it has already upended global crude market and turned the USA into the world’s largest crude producer, there is still so much of it trapped inland, unable to make the 800km journey to the Gulf Coast that would take them to the big wider world.
The stakes are high. Even though the US is poised to reach some 12 mmb/d of crude oil production next year – more than half of that coming from shale oil formations – it could be producing a lot more. This has already caused the Brent-WTI spread to widen to a constant US$10/b since mid-2018 – when the Permian’s pipeline bottlenecks first became critical – from an average of US$4/b prior to that. It is even more dramatic in the Permian itself, where crude is selling at a US$10-16/b discount to Houston WTI, with trends pointing to the spread going as wide as US$20/b soon. Estimates suggest that a record 3,722 wells were drilled in the Permian this year but never opened because the oil could not be brought to market. This is part of the reason why the US active rig count hasn’t increased as much as would have been expected when crude prices were trending towards US$80/b – there’s no point in drilling if you can’t sell.
Assistance is on the way. Between now and 2020, estimates suggest that some 2.6 mmb/d of pipeline capacity across several projects will come onstream, with an additional 1 mmb/d in the planning stages. Add this to the existing 3.1 mmb/d of takeaway capacity (and 300,000 b/d of local refining) and Permian shale oil output currently dammed away by a wall of fixed capacity could double in size when freed to make it to market.
And more pipelines keep getting announced. In the last two weeks, Jupiter Energy Group announced a 90-day open season seeking binding commitments for a planned 1 mmb/d, 1050km long Jupiter Pipeline – which could connect the Permian to all three of Texas’ deepwater ports, Houston, Corpus Christi and Brownsville. Plains All American is launching its 500,000 b/d Sunrise Pipeline, connecting the Permian to Cushing, Oklahoma. Wolf Midstream has also launched an open season, seeking interest for its 120,000 b/d Red Wolf Crude Connector branch, connecting to its existing terminal and infrastructure in Colorado City.
Current estimates suggest that Permian output numbered around 3.5 mmb/d in October. At maximum capacity, that’s still about 100,000 b/d of shale oil trapped inland. As planned pipelines come online over the next two years, that trickle could turn into a flood. Consider this. Even at the current maxing out of Permian infrastructure, the US is already on the cusp on 12 mmb/d crude production. By 2021, it could go as high as 15 mmb/d – crude prices, permitting, of course.
As recently reported in the WSJ; “For years, the companies behind the U.S. oil-and-gas boom, including Noble Energy Inc. and Whiting Petroleum Corp. have promised shareholders they have thousands of prospective wells they can drill profitably even at $40 a barrel. Some have even said they can generate returns on investment of 30%. But most shale drillers haven’t made much, if any, money at those prices. From 2012 to 2017, the 30 biggest shale producers lost more than $50 billion. Last year, when oil prices averaged about $50 a barrel, the group as a whole was barely in the black, with profits of about $1.7 billion, or roughly 1.3% of revenue, according to FactSet.”
The immense growth experienced in the Permian has consequences for the entire oil supply chain, from refining balances – shale oil is more suitable for lighter ends like gasoline, but the world is heading for a gasoline glut and is more interested in cracking gasoil for the IMO’s strict marine fuels sulphur levels coming up in 2020 – to geopolitics, by diminishing OPEC’s power and particularly Saudi Arabia’s role as a swing producer. For now, the walls keeping a Permian flood in are still standing. In two years, they won’t, with new pipeline infrastructure in place. And so the oil world has two years to prepare for the coming tsunami, but only if crude prices stay on course.
Recent Announced Permian Pipeline Projects
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 3 December 2018 – Brent: US$61/b; WTI: US$52/b
Headlines of the week
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