HARC to Launch 3D Virtual Rig to Showcase Enviro-Friendly Drilling

Using state-of-the-art gaming software, anyone will soon be able to explore a virtual 3D drill rig right from their desktop.

The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), in conjunction with the Coastal Impacts Technology Program (CITP) and the Epic Software Group, are developing an innovative multimedia web application to demonstrate the latest advances in environmentally friendly drilling technologies.

The web-based program is designed to familiarize members of industry, government and education with environmentally sustainable technologies now available or under development in the energy industry.

The project is funded by Houston Advanced Research Center and the Texas General Land Office through a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Coastal Impact Assistance Program.

"Our team has created a fun, interactive application to contrast conventional ways industry has drilled for oil and gas with newer and more environmentally friendly methods," Richard Haut, leader of CITP, said. "Visitors to the new site can open videos and 3D animations featuring a host of new tools that are reducing the impact of energy production on the environment."

"Although this multimedia application will be useful in global applications, our focus is on the environmentally sensitive coastal areas of Texas," Haut noted.

The Epic Software Group won the contract to provide the computer animation, web graphics, video and programming for the project. Epic has developed multimedia applications for energy companies since 1990.

A series of videos on the site will be hosted by "Ralph and Rhonda," two roughnecks who don't always see eye to eye. Ralph is an old-timer who likes to do things 'the way we've always done 'em in the oil patch.' Rhonda is relatively new to the industry, but has visited companies working with the latest technologies. She is eager to share what she has learned about reducing the impact of drilling on the environment.

"While energy production is serious business, our goal is to present the information in both an informative and entertaining way," Vic Cherubini, president of the Epic Software Group, said.

What makes the 3D virtual rig tour unique is the use of a powerful software engine that allows visitors to move completely around or through the rig at will, according to Cherubini.

When they see something that interests them, they can play a video, visit a website, or get additional information on a green product related to that part of the rig.

When visitors move closer to a piece of drilling equipment, the sound of the machine gets louder. If they pass a roughneck, the worker will stop and explain what he or she is doing and explain the environmental advantages.

"This application is similar to what you might see at the OTC, but now you can experience it on your own desktop," Haut said.

Examples of the technologies showcased in the web-based application include closed loop mud systems, small footprint rigs, advanced hydraulic fracturing systems, high efficiency water handling and processing systems.

The 3D virtual rig tour, open to the public without charge, will be available September 30, 2012 at http://www.efdvirtualsite.org. Phase I of the project is scheduled for completion at the end of September with additional phases to follow.

The EFD-CITP is a research and demonstration program investigating new technologies that can help reduce the impact of oil and gas exploration and production along the Texas Gulf Coast.


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Doug | Aug. 15, 2012
Typically stereotype of women being better than men; young people are smarter than older men; that is destroying our culture -- and seriously harming industrial safety. The young guys, and particularly young women, come to work thinking they know everything and they rule the world. They wont listen to experience - they think they already know it all. In reality they are ignorant babes about to do some very stupid things. You are turning the world on its head, debasing experience, and doing a lot of harm with what you are doing here.


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