picture virtual arene class room

VIRTUAL ARENA - a world-leading laboratory within drilling and well technology


Virtual Arena will be a unique development-, test-, and training facility applicable from the early stage of development to the first stages of qualification of automated and remotely controlled drilling systems.

In June 2014 the Research Council of Norway (RCN) will announce a call for proposals to the National Financing Initiative for Research Infrastructure (INFRASTRUKTUR) program.

From IRIS, the Drilling and Well Modeling group and Ullrigg Drilling and Well Centre will apply for funding through the INFRASTRUKTUR program to realize Virtual Arena, with project start-up in Q3 2015.

Previously (2011) Ullrigg has been awarded funding through the INFRASTRUKTUR program and is now one of the selected projects on the Norwegian Roadmap for Research Infrastrucure defined by the RCN.

To meet the challenge of less accessible reservoirs, tomorrow’s drilling solutions will be different both in technology and methods. Increased level of automation and innovative drilling solutions increases the necessity of incremental development and testing in a safe but realistic environment. In addition, new drilling tools and methods calls for new man-machine interfaces and changes in work procedures which will need to be investigated prior to implementation.

As a joint initiative between Ullrigg Drilling and Well Centre and the Drilling and Well Modeling group at IRIS Energy will establish Virtual Arena based on the key building blocks; The physical facilities at Ullrigg and associated wells; and the virtual environment represented by the Virtual Rig and the advanced simulation software for computation of surface and downhole effects during drilling.

picture1 virtual arena

Virtual Arena offers a world-leading laboratory and test facility based on the unique combination of a physical and virtual reality.

Virtual Arena will be a unique combination of physical and virtual facilities available to the users. The possible connections between virtual and physical objects are many and depend on the field of interest:
  • The drilling control system and physical machinery at Ullrigg can be used to perform the drilling operations with only a few meters of drill pipe into the well. A virtual well is then drilled and the status of the well depends on the actions from the driller, combined with simulated interaction with the generated formation.
  • The virtual reality can be used for Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulations. Equipment that otherwise would require a physical test facility can be tested safely with a virtual well (if required) and the process is controlled either from the Virtual Rig or a drilling workstation at the physical rig.
picture2 virtual arena
Ullrigg Training Center, a part of Virtual Arena.

Virtual Arena has been very well received by the universities and research institutes, as well as the oil companies, service companies and drilling contractors, both in Norway and internationally. This confirms the need to establish Virtual Arena and acknowledge IRIS as the natural choice for establishing and running this facility.
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