Speaking at the 2009 Daratech Plant asset management conference in Houston earlier this year, Paulo Roberto Oliveira de Ara˙jo, manager of project automation at Petrobras’ UN-RIO unit, introduced the Proteus virtual reality (VR) project. Proteus, (Projeto de Tecnologias Unificadas) provides a realistic environment for pre-handover operator training, safety review and remote collaboration during operations on the company’s semi-submersibles and FPSOs.
Proteus was designed to minimize post-handover design modifications which are costly to implement and which delay first oil. Proteus enhances safety by minimizing offshore head-count and optimizing emergency procedures. During operations, 3D models of production units, integrate Petrobras’ Sindotec document management system, OSIsoft’s PI System, deployed at the operations control center and SAP. Proteus provides information management across the production unit’s lifecycle.
At Daratech, de Ara˙jo showed the use of avatars working on a model FPSO, using VR Context’s WalkInside environment. Avatars navigate the massive VR models assembled from diverse sources such as computer aided design, laser scans and digital imagery. Avatar movement is constrained by realistic gravity and collision detection of objects, making it possible to check out real world interactions with plant equipment such as valve controls. Mobile avatars act as on-site operators, facilitating field personnel safety review, pre-handover training, and remote collaboration.
Other use cases include simulations and movies including disassembly for maintenance. Other interfaces provide access to project documentation, real-time query of process variables, access to maintenance and inspection data reports. A tag reader (including RFID ‘smart tags’) is deployed in the field to link equipment items to online technical documents. Proteus is also used in quality audit and design review. A partnership with the University of Rio de Janeiro’s Tecgraf Lab provides Petrobras with project automation developers.
Petrobras has studied the impact of catastrophic events by linking the VR model to GexCon’s FLACS computational fluid dynamics simulator. Flacs models gas explosion and has been used to modify engineering design to accommodate evacuation routes and personnel safety by simulating emergency situations and optimizing remediation procedures. Petrobras estimates that the system will reduce accidents by 10 % in 2010 and cut the offshore headcount by 20% in 2012. de Ara˙jo concluded ‘Proteus will help us improve safety and increase operational efficiency of our deepwater flagship projects while reducing costs and optimizing oil production.’ Full Proteus deployment begins later this year. More on VR in Petrobras on page 11.
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