IFP has followed the lead of several oil companies by installing a 3D visualization center at its headquarters, in Rueil Malm-aison, France. The facility, called Explorium, is designed for use in a wide range of research projects, either exclusive to IFP or in partnership with contractors of all sizes.
The Explorium is designed for work sessions involving up to 20 participants.
Construction of the $900,000 Explorium began in September 2000, with the facility becoming operational in April 2001. At its heart is a Silicon Graphics Onyx 2 Infinite Reality 3 supercomputer, featuring two processors (R12000 at 500 MHz), 4 gigabyte of memory and an Infinite Reality 3 graphics package.
"This is a good configuration for IFP's current needs," says Laurent Grizon, Explorium Manager. "Within the next few months, a sophisticated videoconferencing system will also be integrated into the Explorium, allowing us to deal with distant collaborative work scenarios between different visualization centers." The Explorium configuration also provides a very high level of resolution, via 3,520 x 1,000 pixels on its giant curved screen (130-degree aperture), which is 11 m wide and 2.8 m high.
Images are displayed on the screen in a 3D stereo, audio-immersive environment. The Explorium can be used either for sessions involving three to six technicians from a cross-disciplinary team, or for technology/case study presentations to up to 20 people. Real-time applications can be driven from a platform housing three SGI monitors, situated on the right of the amphitheater, or directly at the worktable in front of the curved screen.
Typical offshore sector uses include 3D subsurface/fluid flow simulation and basin modeling, and integrated geoscience studies.
One early customized offshore application was commissioned by Coflexip Stena Offshore to illustrate results of riser simulations for an FPSO for Coparex in the Mediterranean Sea.
"In this case, the risers were fixed at the vessel's prow, instead of the normal position at the sides, and they were also linked to a single buoy mooring system. Coflexip needed to test several scenarios to show the client what would happen if the boat changed direction in the prevailing wind. Their main aim was to show that the twisting movement of the risers would be correct."
For this exercise, CADCentre supplied a 3D plant data management system (PDMS) and its viewer/renderer, and IFP also developed a graphic engine to facilitate quick visualization and quality control of the simulation results.
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