Recent data from BIS Research is calling for the global market for the Internet of Things (IoT) in the oil and gas sector to reach over US $ 30 billion by 2026. That is an annual compound growth rate of 24.5 % during the period (2017 – 2026).
What is driving this massive opportunity? One might think that is based on a recovery of oil prices… that would be wrong. This forecast is based on the need to reduce costs through efficiencies during a protracted, lower price commodity environment. The oil and gas industry will need to focus on increasing efficiency within operations while also improving the management and performance of existing assets and maximizing capital productivity, according to BIS Research.
Where to Look for Opportunities to Drive Efficiency and Optimization Utilizing IoT
The typical oil and gas site will contain a great detail of expensive equipment. Many of those sites are in remote locations, making cost effective operations very challenging. Prior to IoT, the standard was often to equip remotes assets with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) technology to collect data or remotely manage the asset. The downside is that SCADA solutions are very expensive and do not integrate well with the broad asset mix that is common in the oil and gas industry.
SCADA is being replaced by wireless solutions that are being combined with superior data acquisition and analytics that can deliver the potential for a cost-effective connect oilfield, even for smaller producers. Utilizing the connected oilfield approach throughout their operations – and at remote sites in particular – oil and gas producers can reduce costs, improve efficiencies, optimize production and move towards sustainability in a challenging commodity price environment.
Monitoring Assets at Remote Sites Offers the Greatest Opportunity for IoT Solutions
Operating distant sites can be very difficult. Remote oil and gas wells equipped with a connected oilfield solution can help reduce, or even eliminate, the need for employees to regularly visit remote sites. Operators can be notified of potential maintenance issues in advance and receive key data that will enable them to ensure production is fully optimized.
The following are four oil and gas assets that ideal for remote monitoring.
When a compressor goes down, a company can experience thousands of dollars per hour in lost production. And it is often the case that the company is not even aware that the compressor is down until their field staff visits the site.
Companies that implement the remote monitoring of their compressors can ensure that the equipment is performing at peak capacity. By monitoring pressure and temperature readings, as well as receiving real-time information on runtime hours, the company can effectively manage production and also schedule maintenance activities.
It is estimated that there are over 2 million tanks (underground and above ground) in North America. Regardless of what they hold, tanks can leak, overflow or spill. Tank owners then have the duty to clean up the damage, while also potentially facing steep regulatory fines.
Tanks can be remotely monitored in order to avoid incidents. Level sensors and wireless communication can provide accurate, real-time data on the contents of the tank and the tank itself, indicating when a tank has reached a high level point and needs to be emptied. Sensors can also be utilized to detect corrosion and potential leaks, when low levels are detected that are outside of normal operating parameters.
Accurately measuring and recording the transfer of petroleum products from the producer to the companies that gather and distribute the products is critical.
With well over 500,000 active wells in North America, managing the ownership transfer of the petroleum products is an enormous job. Companies rely on volume readings to determine how much oil is being moved, which guides what they will charge the receiver.
Many of the remote sites have very little infrastructure and it often takes lengthy travel to reach these sites. Utilizing a remote asset monitoring solution, companies can cost-effectively acquire the information that they require to accurately invoice their customers for the product that they have received, without having to physically attend the site to gather the data.
- Test Points
- Pipeline Inspection
Rectifiers are utilized in cathodic protection systems in order to keep pipelines from corroding. This is achieved by sending a current through the exterior of the pipe.
Using remote monitoring of rectifiers, pipeline operators can monitor the current and voltage in order to extend the life of the pipeline while also reducing the risk of a leak. Remote monitoring also allows the company to manage those readings without the need to attend the site. By automating the monitoring process, pipelines can also create an audit trail of the key components that tell the story on the current state of the pipeline.
Test points are integral to certifying effective cathodic protection of a pipeline, Test points must be monitored ad regularly calibrated and adjusted to increase the lifespan of both pipelines and tanks.
There are hundreds of thousands of miles of transmission pipelines across North America. This requires pipeline companies to drive to many remote sites to check on a vast array of test points over a very large distance – very expensive! Given the high cost of physically attending at a remote/distant site, implementing a remote monitoring solution to gather the readings from the test points can deliver a rapid return on investment (ROI).
Ideally, a pipeline company can collect real-time data from numerous rectifiers and test points along the pipeline. The company can define the frequency that this data is transmitted (and can also adjust that frequency without attending the site), enhancing their ability to create maximum efficiency within their system and significantly reduce operating expenses.
Pipeline inspection gauges (PIG) operate inside of the pipeline, collecting critical data that can provide early detection of corrosion or defects that could lead to leaks or ruptures in the line.
The advantages of using remote monitoring technology in PIG operations include the ability for technicians to more accurately pinpoint the location a critical piece of data has been identified and recorded. It also allows the technician the ability to track the gauge along the run and accurately locate it when it gets stuck during the run. Remote monitoring can significantly enhance the effectiveness of the gauge readings and reduce the overall cost of completing the pipeline inspection.
What are the important considerations when selecting a remote monitoring solution for these assets?
Companies will want to select a remote monitoring solution that can connect with a wide variety of equipment in the field. That hardware needs to be configured so that it can reliably report the data, at the defined frequencies, that the company requires.
In order to deliver maximum value, the solution must have a web-based interface so that the authorized users may access the data from their desktop, notebook, tablet or smartphone. Another key element that the solution needs to provide is the ability to initiate ‘alarms’ when certain events are experienced. The solution must be able to send emails or text messages to identified personnel when the equipment experiences an issue that falls outside of normal operating parameters.
The solution should be able to pull power from the equipment already at the site (if that is available). Alternatively, the solution will require battery power (and it would be useful to have back up battery power) and/or a solar power option in remote settings.
Certification for Hazardous Environments
Many aspects of oil and gas operations require that a remote monitoring solution be certified as intrinsically safe for operating in potentially hazardous environments.
The solution provider must be able to clearly demonstrate that their equipment, and ancillary components/options – such as solar panels, is certified as intrinsically safe.
Many remote locations will still have access to a strong cellular communication signal. Cellular communication will provide the most cost effective option. In the event that the location is outside the range of a strong cellular signal, the solution provider must be able to provide a satellite option.
It is critical that the company do a comprehensive analysis on what communication option is most appropriate for a specific location. Solutions that provide both cellular and satellite communication will significantly increase the costs of the hardware and the monthly service plans.
Look for a solution that can integrate data into pre-existing enterprise systems. This will allow personnel across the company to be able to access the information that they require to enhance profitability at remote sites.
Regardless of location, the right remote monitoring solution must deliver a complete and cost-effective view of the oil and gas companies’ diverse array of assets. The solution must support a system of notification when an asset is not operating optimally. It must be able to reliably provide data at the frequency that the company requires.
To learn more about remote monitoring solutions for the oil and gas industry, check out the Connected OilfieldTM remote monitoring solution at www.asset-monitoring-solutions.com.