May 17, 2020

Gaming Software Enables Virtual 3D Drilling Rigs

energy digital
3D drill rig
gaming software
3 min
Eco-friendly drilling technologies
THE WOODLANDS, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Using state-of-the-art gaming software, anyone will soon be able to explore a virtual 3D drill rig right from t...


THE WOODLANDS, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--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.


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“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 web site, 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 located at 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.

HARC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in The Woodlands, Texas, dedicated to improving human and ecosystem well-being through the application of sustainability science and principles of sustainable development.

Epic Software Group is a multimedia production company located in The Woodlands. Founded in 1990, the company operates from a state-of-the-art production studio for filming and post production work.




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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.

The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.

Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.  

In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue. 

Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”  

There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:   

  1. Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps. 
  2. Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold. 
  3. Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice. 

Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.

"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."

United Utilities picks up pipeline award

A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.

The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.

“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.

Camus Energy secures $16m funding

Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent VenturesWave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.

As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.

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