Thanks to all the people who left comments and emailed me personally on the wellsite simulator. I promised a new project, and this might be a good time to give you some first details. We finally got settled, after a long and bumpy relocation to Montreal. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten my PC from Oslo yet, so I haven’t been able to do any serious work on my new project: a 3D Welltest Simulator in the past couple of months. Nevertheless, here is a low-down on the status of the project so far.
a) Most of the models are set up, and they are rather detailed as you will see in the sample screenshots. The textures still need some work (hence not included in the screenshots), but the UV mapping is almost done. The one thing I am missing is a good reference image for the BOP control panel, so if anyone out there has a good image/blueprint sheet, I would greatly appreciate it if you could help out. And,… in case you were wondering…yes, you will be able to control the BOP, ESD, Air compressors to the burners, Oil/water pumps, separator pressure and liquid level controllers, all the valves, etc. and all the controls will all affect the simulations in a physically semi-correct manner.
b) The graphic/game engine I picked for this simulation is Unity3D, which is amazing in more than one way. Besides the rendering speed, web player, easy asset importing, etc., it also sports a WYSIWYG editor, where you can script the behavior of each object and see the result instantly. This is a great feature, as I am planning to script every single moving object within this simulation. This includes anything from gauge needles, to valve handles, and even the Barton chart recorder. Also, Unity 3D is free as long as you don’t earn any money on your product, so it’s perfect for personal projects.
c) I decided to go with a nice tropical island setting rather than the bleak desert look of the Oilfield Simulator, since I have a large number of 3D trees, flowers and bushes sitting on my HDD that I never used for one of my personal game projects. Also, since Unity3D is so damn fast at rendering, I will make the island lush and gorgeous… promised.
d) I have started on the scripts. Some object behaviors are already scripted, so e.g. gauge needles will correctly display pressures at junctions. The flow model however, is giving me some trouble – I decided to implement a generalized 3-phase network flow model, and the calculations for my 100 or so node network turned out to be too much to be handled in real-time (i.e. per frame), so I might either decouple the calculations from the rendering timer, or simplify the model itself, maybe even separate the phase calculations by making some simplifying assumptions.
e) I foresee some trouble in modeling flow in the separator, and I have found very little in the literature (academic, or engineering) that could provide me with a good model. Maybe I’ll just come up with another simplified model, i.e. if no one can point me to a good book or article on this subject :P
If I find a way to overcome most of these problems, I think you will get to have a look at the simulation before the summer of 2011. Ok, so now that I have committed myself publicly, I would be interested in hearing what factors you would value in such a simulation? Would you prefer to have safety training added (H2S, Leakage, over-pressure, explosions, etc.)? How important is the level of precision of the mathematical simulation? E.g. would it matter to you if I simplified the calculations, thus introducing a small possible error in the pressure/flow values? Would you rather control an animated character or a free-floating 6-axis camera in the final simulation? How would you rate the importance of realistic sound effects for the flow, burner, separator operation, etc.?
Your input is invaluable and highly appreciated, so please do leave comments and let me know what else you expect from the well test simulator.