"The best geologist is the one who has seen the most rocks" is a mantra often repeated to student geoscientists. Sadly, not everyone has the opportunity to undertake field trips, and are therefore not benefitting from the learning opportunities and skills development gained from conducting measurements and observations in the field environment.
PetroEDGE provides technical training to the oil and gas industry through taught courses, workshops and field trips, but recently there has been a significant decrease in the number of requests for field trips, primarily due to a reduction in training budgets. Since virtual reality (VR) modules focusing on facilities and equipment were already available, it was decided to extend this to VR geological field trips, presented in a style consistent with physical field trips.
The Hilbre Islands off the north-west coast of England were chosen as a pilot location. They are well visited by field groups, and of particular interest to oil and gas geoscientists as they comprise the Lower Triassic Ormskirk Sandstone Formation of the Sherwood Sandstone Group, which is producing oil and gas from fields 25 km away in the East Irish Sea Basin.
The VR field trips are intended to create an immersive and realistic environment designed to encourage exploration. Users are supplied with a virtual field guide, accessible at all times, and have access to various tools to make appropriate measurements. Guidance at the start of the field trip encourages the user to make the same observations they would in the field and to develop their fieldwork skills. Areas of particular interest have 'hotspots' providing more detail when selected, such as core or log images, photomicrographs, depositional models, illustrations of sedimentary structures, or annotation of the outcrop. The range of information that can be displayed in the hotspots is vast, and can include video footage, seismic imagery, animations and 3D models.
There are numerous VR field trips available, with different strengths and disadvantages. Many exploit the freedom, scale and accessibility that drone image capture can provide; this has certainly excited me as, having spent years assuring field trip attendees of the features that can be seen at the top of outcrops, we can finally fly up and see for ourselves.
Our initial photogrammetric models did not provide high enough resolution when converted into VR, primarily because drones are unable to fly too near to outcrops and acquire close-up imagery. Many VR field trips have a resolution equal to 3 cm per pixel or lower, but to illustrate meaningful sedimentological features higher resolution is needed, and our aim was to resolve to coarse-grain size. Many months of experimentation with a combination of different methods of image capture and processing techniques achieved the required results, but also highlighted technical problems that would be encountered at future localities.
For example, the presence of deep shadows confuses the processing software as it relies on an algorithm that identifies similarities in adjacent areas. Occasional shadowed areas can be processed manually, but that process is time consuming and is best avoided whenever possible. Virtual field trips to carbonate outcrops in the Middle East are planned, but filming when the sun is high in bright conditions will produce numerous areas of deep shade contrasting with brightly lit areas, creating extensive processing problems.
On a conventional field trip, it is possible to move behind foliage and boulders to access the outcrop, but these can obstruct drone image capture, so can limit the selection of locations. Also, some of the filming requires access to the outcrops on foot and cannot rely on flying drones into less accessible areas if high-resolution imagery is required.
Lengthy filming and processing of large outcrops can be overcome by using a combination of VR with embedded fly-past and 360- degree videos. As the user is provided with a geographical map, different sections of more extensive outcrops can be imaged and the user is transported to each area when selected on the map.
Integration with Other Training Methods
VR field trips cannot replicate all the skills transfer and learning opportunities provided by physical field trips, but we all need to be pragmatic in a changed financial landscape. Conventional field trips are costly in terms of travel, accommodation, downtime and logistics, so it is better to be able to experience many of the benefits of a field trip, albeit virtually, than to never experience them at all. The skills required to make appropriate observations and conclusions can still be taught, and serve as a reminder that the various data we are using elsewhere relates to real rocks and that interpretations should comply with our understanding of geological processes.
Using VR field trips to illustrate various aspects of training courses can be more incidental, allowing trainees to experience field trips as part of classroom courses or workshops, where travel to each locality is impractical or costly. VR modules can be tailored to include information pertinent to the course, or be integrated with other learning resources. However, it is vital that the VR field trips are valuable in their own right, and not just a new technology to play with. Unnecessary graphics and sound effects have been eliminated to help the user forget they are in VR and focus on the geology.
The information in the hotspots and field guides can easily be tailored to different audiences, including non-geoscientists, engineers, administrative staff and geophysicists. Many of these groups might not normally attend conventional field trips, but do attend classroom courses that can be enriched by examining real rocks.
The field trip leader can be in the classroom with attendees, or can join them remotely, guiding the trainees in the same way as on a physical field trip. However, the VR field trips are designed as stand-alone modules that can also be accessed by an individual without any need for a leader or instructor. Undertaking a particular module can be used as a refresher for staff, to acquaint themselves with a new environment of deposition, or as part of their personal development programme. VR field trips may also be used to equip students with field skills or to familiarise them with the locations prior to a real field trip. This serves to build their confidence and maximise their time in the field. They can be reviewed many times and help to refresh understanding, or provide easy comparison between different localities.
There is also interest from various organisations anxious to preserve educational outcrops that are threatened by weathering, quarrying or development. Putting these outcrops into VR ensures access for future students and field trippers, and provides consistency for any teaching modules that utilise these localities.
When planning a physical field trip, it can be difficult to include access to a number of good outcrops that tell a coherent story, while restricting the amount of travelling between localities. With VR field trips, a wide range of geographical locations can be combined to provide a comprehensive understanding, or for comparison of different localities.
The cost of creating VR field trips is mitigated by the unlimited number of users able to access each trip, the absence of travel and logistical costs, and the variety of roles the VR field trips can fulfil.
It must be stressed that VR field trips are not intended to replace physical field trips, but do provide additional features, such as aerial and panoramic views, and the ability to overlay data, interpretation and models onto the outcrop. They also provide inclusive access to less mobile users, or those unable to travel. Inclusivity also extends to non-geoscientists, junior staff and others who may not normally get an opportunity to visit the field. Remote localities, outcrops with restricted accessibility or ones that present particular health and safety risks can still be experienced, providing the filming team can overcome these issues safely.
However, virtual reality field trips should not just be considered a cost-effective, risk-free alternative to real field work. They offer unique opportunities to incorporate activities and features unavailable in the field, and deliver a more integrated and flexible learning resource.
Carol Hopkins is the Geosciences Technical Director for PetroEdge (Oil & Gas Training Provider). Carol's article was first published in GEO ExPro Magazine, the upstream oil and gas industry’s favourite magazine, and a PetroEdge (Oil & Gas Training Provider) industry partner. Visit GEO ExPro at https://www.geoexpro.com.
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The global oilfield scale inhibitor market was valued at USD 509.4 Million in 2014 and is expected to witness a CAGR of 5.40% between 2015 and 2020. Factors driving the market of oilfield scale inhibitor include increasing demand from the oil and gas industry, wide availability of scale inhibitors, rising demand for biodegradable and environment-compatible scale inhibitors, and so on.
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The oilfield scale inhibitor market is experiencing strong growth and is mainly driven by regions, such as RoW, North America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. Considerable amount of investments are made by different market players to serve the end-user applications of scale inhibitors. The global market is segmented into major geographic regions, such as North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Rest of the World (RoW). The market has also been segmented on the basis of type. On the basis of type of scale inhibitors, the market is sub-divided into phosphonates, carboxylate/acrylate, sulfonates, and others.
Carboxylate/acrylic are the most common type of oilfield scale inhibitor
Among the various types of scale inhibitors, the carboxylate/acrylate type holds the largest share in the oilfield scale inhibitor market. This large share is attributed to the increasing usage of this type of scale inhibitors compared to the other types. Carboxylate/acrylate meets the legislation requirement, abiding environmental norms due to the absence of phosphorus. Carboxylate/acrylate scale inhibitors are used in artificial cooling water systems, heat exchangers, and boilers.
RoW, which includes the Middle-East, Africa, and South America, is the most dominant region in the global oilfield scale inhibitor market
The RoW oilfield scale inhibitor market accounted for the largest share of the global oilfield scale inhibitor market, in terms of value, in 2014. This dominance is expected to continue till 2020 due to increased oil and gas activities in this region. The Middle-East, Africa, and South America have abundant proven oil and gas reserves, which will enable the rapid growth of the oilfield scale inhibitor market in these regions. Among the regions in RoW, Africa’s oilfield scale inhibitor market has the highest prospect for growth. Africa has a huge amount of proven oil reserves and is one of the leading oil producing region in the World. But political unrest coupled with lack of proper infrastructures may negatively affect oil and gas activities in this region.
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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 9 December 2019 – Brent: US$64/b; WTI: US$59/b
Headlines of the week
In the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook 2019 (IEO2019), India has the fastest-growing rate of energy consumption globally through 2050. By 2050, EIA projects in the IEO2019 Reference case that India will consume more energy than the United States by the mid-2040s, and its consumption will remain second only to China through 2050. EIA explored three alternative outcomes for India’s energy consumption in an Issue in Focus article released today and a corresponding webinar held at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Long-term energy consumption projections in India are uncertain because of its rapid rate of change magnified by the size of its economy. The Issue in Focus article explores two aspects of uncertainty regarding India’s future energy consumption: economic composition by sector and industrial sector energy intensity. When these assumptions vary, it significantly increases estimates of future energy consumption.
In the IEO2019 Reference case, EIA projects the economy of India to surpass the economies of the European countries that are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United States by the late 2030s to become the second-largest economy in the world, behind only China. In EIA’s analysis, gross domestic product values for countries and regions are expressed in purchasing power parity terms.
The IEO2019 Reference case shows India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growing from $9 trillion in 2018 to $49 trillion in 2050, an average growth rate of more than 5% per year, which is higher than the global average annual growth rate of 3% in the IEO2019 Reference case.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2019
India’s economic growth will continue to drive India’s growing energy consumption. In the IEO2019 Reference case, India’s total energy consumption increases from 35 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2018 to 120 quadrillion Btu in 2050, growing from a 6% share of the world total to 13%. However, annually, the level of GDP in India has a lower energy consumption than some other countries and regions.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2019
In the Issue in Focus, three alternative cases explore different assumptions that affect India’s projected energy consumption:
EIA’s analysis shows that the country's industrial activity has a greater effect on India’s energy consumption than technological improvements. In the IEO2019 Composition and Combination cases, where the assumption is that economic growth is more concentrated in manufacturing, energy use in India grows at a greater rate because those industries have higher energy intensities.
In the IEO2019 Combination case, India’s industrial energy consumption grows to 38 quadrillion Btu more in 2050 than in the Reference case. This difference is equal to a more than 4% increase in 2050 global energy use.