Not only will the facilities be used to predetermine which areas are appropriate for drilling but, for the first time, they will also be active during the drilling itself, providing real-time three-dimensional imagery of the drilling site in progress. On-shore personnel based at a Reality Center installation several hundred miles away will be able to monitor the drilling constantly to ensure its accuracy. As well workers are not able to see where they're drilling, instant communication between the land-based team and on-site personnel will ensure that they stay within a 56-yard (50-meter) tolerance.
Virtual representations created by one Reality Center operation can also be shared with other installations, allowing for collaborative visualization and analysis by other colleagues. For example, scientists and engineers utilizing Statoil's existing systems in Stavanger and Trondheim, Norway, have been able to examine and manipulate the same seismic data sets concurrently, ensuring that a common analytical methodology is being used. This increases the accuracy of the findings and reduces the time needed to decide whether the drilling site is viable.
With increased exploration costs and tightening margins, techniques that can improve drilling success rates, reduce expenditures and cut the time to market have become extremely valuable in this very competitive field. "The increased drilling and exploration efficiencies enabled by using the new Reality Center facilities, coupled with time that we'll save, means that each installation will pay for itself with the first new well drilled," said Trond Suul, Statoil director of high-performance computing and high-performance visualization. "Using our existing Reality Center technologies, we've already been able to reduce the cycle time on new exploratory sites from months to weeks, or even days."
Statoil's new Reality Center installations will be powered by SGI Onyx 3400 graphical supercomputers, each incorporating 16 CPUs, 32GB of memory, two InfiniteReality3 graphics subsystems and a two-channel flat display.
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