University of North Dakota opens VR lab for shale drillers

By North American Shale magazine staff | December 18, 2017

Virtual reality glasses, the DrillSim 5000 and industry expertise are all available to future petroleum engineers working in the recently dedicated Hess oil and gas labs at the University of North Dakota’s Collaborative Energy Complex. Sponsored by Hess Corp. and Drilling Systems Ltd.—a United Kingdom-based company—the labs now available to UND’s petroleum engineering students allow students to undergo an entire drilling scenario from start to finish.

UND is now only one of five universities in the country with a DrillSim 5000 simulator. The simulator resembles a detailed drill rig floor environment. “For UND, this is a fantastic tool to support different parts of the curriculum—to take the students into a more immersive world,” said Euan Kennedy, Drilling Systems business development manager. “It’s very easy to discuss things on paper, but to visually go through the operation and see the consequences of actions, it gives students the experience to work on what they will potentially be using when they’re employed.”

Qbit Technologies, a California startup firm that specializes in VR training helped set-up the lab. Distance learners working with UND can also access the lab through VR. Training that utilizes VR also allows diverse groups of people to train together, according to UND. Bakken operators can specifically use the lab to train for conditions and drilling scenarios present in the play that shares the same state as UND.