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Picture gallery: R2S image capture technology like Street View for oil rigs

Sold: R2S
Another stunning image captured by R2S

The Aberdeen company at the forefront of creating visual mapping of oil and gas installations has been likened to a creating version Google’s Street View for oil rigs.

R2S – part of the SeaEnergy group – is the company behind the high-resolution technology that delivers detailed photographic schematics of the cities in the sea – known as visual asset management.

Head of product development and support at SeaEnergy’s innovation division Martin MacRae says the Google analogy is a fair one: “But R2S offers much more, and the photography is so much better!”

It can require more than 1 million individual photographs to capture every element of a large production platform. Pictures are taken from every conceivable angle and pulled together using the R2S software to create an  accurate picture of the entire installation.

R2S provides high definition 360° spherical photography – the renditions are seamless with none of the “stitching” together of images seen in other applications such as Street View.

MacRae said: “Our clients cannot afford to have unclear images, they need to be able to see every detail.”

The latest version version of the R2S software enhances the visual capture element by allowing engineers to highlight, mark-up and annotate areas of specific interest.

The software is also able to provide accurate measurement of equipment and infrastructure, allowing onshore teams an incredibly clear insight into conditions offshore.

It means that projects, maintenance and safety upgrades can be completed quicker and at less cost than before. An engineer can oversee the workscope from his desktop rather than flying out on a helicopter and spending time offshore.

MacRae added: “The system is very easy to pick up in its basic form. It is a little like Street View, but it provides much more value by being able to embed other information and detail.

“We can zoom in on a valve and have photographs, schematics, CAD models and other information all there. It augments the real world visualisation we achieve with the image capture technology.

“Google sends a car down a street and then stitches the images together quickly. You can always see the joins. R2S uses professional photographers who know how to get the best pictures and ensure we capture all the essential information and equipment that our clients need. The software allows us to see into the dark corners.”

The technique is known as photogrammetry – the mix photography and trigonometery – where everyday cameras are used to model the engineering structures or forensic and accident scenes. The cameras are attached to tripods which enables seamless 360° images to be built up.

The high level of accuracy is essential – having a clear view of an accident location or equipment failure can help Emergency Repsonse teams onshore take swift action to effect a repair or take the right decision to during a crisis.

R2S – the name comes from the company’s original name Return To Scene – was developed in conjunction with Grampian Police in Aberdeen. It was developed as a forensic tool to capture footage from crime and accident scene until its founders developed an application for the offshore oil and gas industry.

The technology has also played a crucial role in the security preparations for the 2013 G8 conference of world leaders in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland.

In the months prior to the two-day summit, the Police Service of Northern Ireland used the software to record areas in and around the Lough Erne Resort. The detailed visual record was used to brief politicians and security personnel at the highest level.

R2S was acquired by SeaEnergy in August 2012 in a deal worth more than £10million. It now focuses exclusively on photo capture for the oil and gas sector, with its digital and forensic experts moving to SeaEnergy’s consulting division.

The company has recently completed the photographic capture of four of BP Gulf of Mexico installations – Atlantis, Mad Dog, Thunderhorse and Na Kika.

Chevron has described R2S’s visual asset management system as a “critical element” in the remediation process following a fire at its unmanned Erskine Platform 150 miles east of Aberdeen in 2010. Chevron uses the software across 13 facilities, including its integrated operation centre.

R2S will use its visual asset management (VAM) system as part of the decommissioning of the Dounreay nuclear plant in Caithness to produce images of part of the complex, which will in turn be used in support of dismantling and restoration work at the site.

The image capture technology used by R2S will allow for safe investigation of key infrastructure from a safe distance, via a desktop or laptop computer.

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