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Monday, May 1, 2017

Coastal Impact Technology Program: Fostering Environmental Stewardship in the Oil and Gas Workforce

EFD Virtual Site

Users learn about environmental best practices in what feels like a video game.

Written by Carolyn LaFleur, Research Scientist, Energy Production

In a four-year, $4 million effort, The Coastal Impacts Technology Program (CITP), a research initiative of the HARC Environmentally Friendly Drilling Program (EFD) engaged a diverse group of stakeholders in research to benefit the Texas Coastal Zone. The program focused on addressing environmental aspects of oil and gas operations, including site restoration, air emissions, water resources, and workforce development. Research was funded by revenue sharing from offshore oil and gas operations through the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP), a multi-year research program authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, administered in Texas by the Texas General Land Office.

Revenue sharing from offshore oil and gas funded numerous conservation projects in coastal states through CIAP.

Recognizing the importance of fostering environmental stewardship in the oil and gas workforce, the CITP program developed an interactive learning tool with the look and feel of a video game. The “Virtual Drilling Rig” allows users to explore the workings of a rig and learn about best practices for environmental management and pollution prevention. As a free, interactive website, the Virtual Rig has been well received by industry as a training and outreach tool, and by the public as well.

Leveraging the success of the Virtual Rig, additional virtual sites were developed. After a quick online safety orientation, anyone can explore the Virtual Rig, Hydraulic Fracturing Site, Production Pad, or Virtual Offshore Safety Awareness (VOSA) sites. Users can click on “Hot Spots” that provide information on equipment, process technologies, and environmentally friendlier alternatives. Through these virtual sites, users learn about practices and technologies that foster a culture of safety and emergency preparedness as well as environmental protection.

The EFD Virtual Site offers a ‘Tour Video’ that explains the oil and gas process, history, and terminology. There is also a 'Help Video' to show how to use the site. These short videos are hosted by Ralph and Rhonda Roughneck® to familiarize members of industry, government, education, and the public with environmentally sustainable technologies that are now available or are under development in oil and gas exploration and production operations. Visitors are able to navigate around and through the rig as they interact with cost-effective technologies that reduce the footprint of drilling operations. By interfacing with Rhonda and Ralph Roughneck, users can tour or explore the rig site as they compare the 'old ways' with newer technologies such as closed-loop mud systems, small footprint rigs, advanced hydraulic fracturing systems and high efficiency water handling and processing systems. Visit these virtual sites at