Photo: Gjøa platform; Source: Neptune Energy

Neptune to reduce need for offshore trips with virtual reality tech

Oil and gas company Neptune Energy has completed a virtual reality pilot on its operated Gjøa platform in the Norwegian North Sea, enabling teams to make highly realistic virtual visits to the platform.

Gjøa VR - Neptune Energy
Gjøa VR; Source: Neptune Energy

The technology, developed by PaleBlue and used to train astronauts travelling to the International Space Station, will reduce the need for offshore travel, lower costs and associated emissions, and support safe operations, Neptune explained in a statement on Thursday.

According to Neptune, it is the first time PaleBlue’s technology has been applied to an offshore installation. Using a VR headset, offshore workers interact with an ultra-realistic 3D model of the Gjøa platform from onshore.

Martin Borthne - Neptune Energy
Martin Borthne; Source: Neptune Energy

Martin Borthne, Director of Operations for Neptune Energy in Norway said: “The new Virtual Reality solution allows employees and contractors to build up knowledge and awareness of the complex multi-level facility without the need to travel. Planning work operations will be safer and more efficient.

“The initiative will together with other projects see an estimated reduction of 30 offshore trips per year. We expect this to grow in the years ahead as digitalisation further enhances collaboration over distance, bringing immediate access to expertise and enabling preparation of activities to be carried out from onshore”.

As a first step, Neptune Energy will use the technology for familiarisation and safety training, but the scope will be expanded to other complex operational activities such as simulations related to HSE events or to better understand how platform modifications will appear before they have been carried out.

In addition, expansion to a multi-user function will enable offshore personnel to meet onshore personnel in the virtual world.

Egil Thomas Andersen, Account Director at PaleBlue, said: “The restrictions and all the consequences of COVID-19 have introduced challenges to operations for many companies. By doing the familiarisation training in a virtual world, even from home, companies can overcome travelling restrictions, save time, costs and emissions, and will be 100 per cent prepared with crucial knowledge of the facility when they physically arrive offshore”.

Neptune has also recently created digital twins of platforms in the Norwegian, UK and Dutch sectors of the North Sea.

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Similar to the VR pilot on Gjøa, these also enable offshore site inspections and planning work to be carried out onshore. Neptune Energy also uses laser scan technology to carry out detailed engineering work for subsea productions developments which will be tied back to Gjøa.