Many employers have implemented VR training to educate their operators on safety measures in the oil and gas industry.

FREMONT, CA: Virtual Reality (VR) for training in a wide variety of industries. VR can be a valuable training tool for the petroleum industry and its service companies, both in upstream and downstream operations.

Consider the following issues that arise in the development, production, transportation, and processing of oil and gas, and how these new technologies can assist in resolving them:

Operational Hazards: Any sector that incorporates humans interacting with heavy equipment and potentially flammable, explosive, or poisonous materials must ensure that personnel is adequately trained to operate equipment safely. Heavy drill strings must be tripped into and out of boreholes during drilling operations by a derrick with numerous rig hands nearby. The driller must constantly monitor borehole conditions for circulation loss or other issues resulting in a loss of control over the well and a potentially catastrophic blowout. If safe operating procedures are not followed, oil and gas transportation and processing create numerous potential ignition or explosion points.

● VR's immersive nature and "hands-on" simulation capabilities make it an excellent tool for safety training. VR’s experiential and hands-on nature can enhance the subject matter, resulting in increased retention, faster learning, and more informed field decision-making.

Location: In contrast to manufacturing, oil and gas production frequently occurs in highly remote areas, both onshore and offshore. A "green" employee on a rig will face a steep learning curve before reaching peak productivity as a rig hand unless he or she arrives with a basic understanding of rig operations. Experienced personnel will have to invest valuable time in acclimating the new employee.

● VR hardware can be used in the office or out in the field. While wearing a VR helmet or headset provides the optimal learning experience, VR applications can also be streamed to tablets or smartphones.

Cyclical Industry: In an ideal world, the petroleum industry would be stable, with little training required and most rigs, pipelines, and plants operated by highly experienced personnel. Unfortunately, petroleum is a cyclical industry with far more pronounced booms and busts than many manufacturing industries. Following a bust, some unemployed workers will seek employment in other fields, effectively leaving the industry. When the boom cycle returns, skilled workers will be in short supply, necessitating intensive training programs.

● VR training materials can be modified and updated to accommodate an influx of new trainees. It can help new employees prepare for on-the-job training with more experienced employees by better understanding field operations.

VR in drilling operations can provide trainees with a realistic environment where poor decisions have consequences, but thankfully, none are dangerous. Whether the trainee is operating a simulated derrick or monitoring gauges on a drilling console, he or she can be exposed to situations that require quick decisions but have no chance of failure. Unlike a drilling simulator console, the VR training module can be customized to work with the employer's equipment easily changed or updated.