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Virtual Reality’s Increasing Role In Oil And Gas Training Programs

Oil and gas training is necessary because of the dire need for competent and experienced workers able to cope with constantly evolving operational processes in the industry. Every year, oil and gas companies spend millions of dollars to integrate technology into their processes, buy new equipment, employ up-skilled personnel, and more.

Traditionally, workers in highly technical roles in the industry are required to attend several classroom-based training courses to attain competency standards, attain and maintain required certification. However, with the prevalence of new technologies, the industry is embracing virtual reality (VR) to provide workers with more relevant and effective oil and gas courses than the legacy classroom-based approach. 

Related post: Top 8 Trends in the Oil and Gas Industry to Watch Out in 2022

Also, companies are discovering innovative ways to capitalize on the benefits of virtual reality applications in oil and gas training, such as designing “Digital Twins” or constructing immersive training facilities. These are just a few ways the oil and gas industry is implementing virtual reality in the delivery of oil and gas training courses.


Digital Twins Gaining Grounds in the Industry

Before the advent of virtual reality technology, training oil and gas workers was ineffective and complicated. Companies are now using “Digital Twins,” a digital copy of a plant to aid in the training process. To build Digital Twins, sensors and tracking gadgets are placed on plant equipment and other infrastructure to gather sufficient data. 

The collected data is then inputted and compiled with VR to create a digital copy of the plant and equipment therein. With this setup, it is possible to simulate a plant’s operations thoroughly. Conclusively, the application of Digital Twins in training plant workers has proven beneficial in the following ways:

  • Employees can train in a virtual environment using the necessary equipment without fear of hitting the wrong button.
  • Plant operations can be replicated inside the Digital Twin, allowing workers to identify and solve problems quickly.
  • An equipment engineer can observe a malfunctioning piece of the plant remotely and then advise workers on how to fix the problem.
  • New equipment and architecture can be developed in a Digital Twin. Also, the equipment can be tested for viability and any opportunities for improvement identified. 

According to research by Offshore Technology, industry leaders like Chevron and Baker Hughes have successfully utilized Digital Twins in their plant training processes:

Chevron workers operate Digital Twins in maintenance procedures, simulate refinery equipment operations and sensory data on the 3D model, which aids the delivery of training to its technicians and helps in identifying plant problems and providing swift solutions.

Also, Baker Hughes deploys Digital Twins to train workers to focus on new equipment design down to the minutia. This training helps Baker Hughes offer a higher level of accuracy and clarity about the equipment and working mechanism before installation.


VR-Structured Immersive Training Facilities

As oil and gas plant workers integrate Digital Twins into their training regimes, offshore operations personnel explore VR-based immersive petroleum training facilities. These training facilities are able to simulate possible situations in the field, including unplanned shutdowns, abnormal operations, and evacuations. 

Immersive training with VR allows for maximum facility efficiency, and its benefits surpass previous training methods by leagues in the following ways: 


A well-developed VR training application can fully re-create real working environments digitally without all the potential hazards associated with a petroleum plant or oil rig job. Trainees can learn new skills with no risk to themselves or the equipment.


VR provides workers with the ability to learn by doing, allowing them to practice new skills in a virtual environment., As a result, it increases knowledge retention and accuracy.


It is possible to adapt VR facilities to conform to specific training needs. Also, digital environments can be created for particular skills requiring no disruption of work processes, so workers can seamlessly participate in on-demand customized training.


With VR, there is no need to wear out expensive training equipment, bring high-wage coaches, or busy experienced employees for training. All training is done inside the digital facility, with oil and gas online courses that can be reused and updated over time.

Prominent oil and gas companies like BP PLC and ExxonMobil have invested in these digital training facilities. 

See more details below:

BP PLC established a platform to enhance the knowledge of its offshore drilling teams, building VR facilities in Svendborg, Denmark, and Houston, Texas. The company’s VR simulations replicate critical physical conditions of offshore drilling. These virtual experiences can help prepare their employees to get accustomed to the harsh conditions in advance, thereby the risk for hazardous accidents.

ExxonMobil has constructed a specialty VR research facility in Qatar, launching an immersive 3D training platform in collaboration with EON reality. Their platform simulates dangerous and unpredictable situations in the field, facilitating trainees to understand and act based on the situation, from natural disasters to gas leaks. 

As virtual reality finds its way into the toolkit of the oil and gas industry, its potential applications are only increasing. From producing Digital Twins to training plant workers, to constructing digital immersion facilities for drilling operations training, virtual reality has proven its value in training oil and gas personnel. 


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