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Concawe – Association of European Oil Refineries

Case Study: Concawe – Association of European Oil Refineries


CINEON Training was approached by a leader in European Oil refinery safety to create a virtual reality (VR) training programme to help reduce the number of accidents on European refineries.

Concawe worked with Cineon Training to develop a virtual reality (VR) simulation tool accelerating and reinforcing the learning journey from novice to expert by improving the perceptual and cognitive capabilities of the refinery operator carrying out a safety inspection tour. The safety tour includes hazard recognition and sampling procedure tasks. It monitors trainee performance and provides targeted learning.


Cineon undertook detailed task analysis using eye-tracking data recording and operator surveys. From these we were able to create a virtual training environment that accurately recreates key tasks in the real environment.  Our scientific analysis allowed us to populate the training environment with the same level of stimuli density that operators would face during a refinery tour.

“Undertook detailed task analysis using eye-tracking data recording”

VR tool users walk through a refinery identifying hazards and carrying out high risk procedures. The simulation helps trainee operators visualise the behaviours of experienced operators, and understand the consequences of failing to identify hazards and take action.

Trainees learn about the underlying process related to human perception (eye movements), based on the eye-tracking research undertaken.

The virtual training world contains 12 different error states that can appear randomly in the environment – everything from leaky valves to faulty gauges, spills to lose bolts. The training is intelligent so it is able to monitor progress and feedback at the end with targeted feedback citing real-life examples directly applicable to the errors made by the trainee.


Concawe identified subject matter experts (SMEs) to perform tasks in the VR simulation. We then performed a cognitive task analysis, to understand objectively the cognitive and motor skill challenges that the VRSTT recreates e.g. examining work-load, cognitive load, subjective pressure, attentional control and concentration, through a series of psychometric tools.

“In-VR eye-tracking was also utilised in order to record the gaze behaviour of a skilled operator”

In-VR eye-tracking was also utilised in order to record the gaze behaviour of a skilled operator performing tasks in the virtual environment.  These data was compared with the eye-tracking performed onsite in order to validate the VRSTT.


The results of the subject matter experts’ survey (scores out of 11) told us that users thought the simulation has face validity in terms of how it represents their real working environment, and might be a useful training device.

Examining and capturing data gathered from the in-VR scores in hazard perception and eye tracking techniques, we could see that more experienced workers demonstrated efficient use of visual information, i.e. within the simulation, as you are more experienced, you are able to detect hazards more easily (making fewer observations). The results replicated the real-world, where this is also the case (i.e. experts are more efficient).

“More experienced workers demonstrated efficient use of visual information”

Overall this data suggests that there is validity in the device we have developed. This is a strong platform from which to launch the device as part of a simulation training curriculum, and thus contribute to the oil refining industries aim of improving safety and performance.

Following the successful analysis of the tool, psychologists and trainers at Cineon have now developed supporting educational material for operators to be able to undertake a training workshop that can be undertaken by member companies.

Click here for further results from testing the Concawe VRSTT with Subject Matter Experts


The training tool was demonstrated at the Concawe Symposium in Antwerp in March 2019, in which 50 people experienced the simulation.

Following the symposium, Concawe’s Science Director, Robin Nelson said our tool contributes to “advancing our thinking with respect to refinery safety and human performance”.

Science Executive for the Concawe Safety Management Group, Carol Banner, said: “Big thanks to you for a tool that got members asking when can we have itand inspiring our industry across Europe with your innovation.”

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