GlobalData’s latest thematic report, ‘Virtual Reality in Oil & Gas,’ provides an overview of the evolution of virtual reality (VR) as a theme and its applications in the oil and gas industry. It also highlights the key trends for VR and how industry leaders are incorporating this technology within their operations.

VR is a technology that immerses the user in an entirely artificial world, which has the illusion of reality. Taking a cue from the gaming industry, VR is gaining traction in the training of oil and gas personnel. Large oil and gas companies such as Saudi Aramco, Equinor, and Shell are using VR to simulate the physical environment in training rooms. Trainee personnel are given VR headsets that deliver an immersive experience of a facility, be it an offshore production platform, a gas processing plant or a refinery. Although this lacks the real feel of a challenging workplace environment, it is a highly safe and cost-efficient approach to introduce personnel to a new facility.

The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a shift to remote working, which has boosted the adoption of VR by oil and gas companies for training, collaboration and data visualisation. This shift will persist even though most employees have now returned to offices. It will accelerate the development of rugged, industry-specific VR devices and software platforms to support newer use cases. By allowing oil and gas engineers to virtually explore production facilities, VR will help in extracting the maximum value from digital twins. This could improve plant designs, fast-track the adoption of new solutions and develop best practices for ensuring the health and safety of field personnel and surrounding communities. Shell is creating a digital twin of its integrated refinery in Singapore to facilitate remote monitoring and improve operational efficiency and safety.