Top Ten Ways the Oilfield Is Going Digital
January 13, 2017
GE Reports Canada
There’s no softening the fact that the price of oil has fallen to nearly half of what it was three years ago. This slump has contributed to a shift in focus for the oil and gas industry: digital transformation. Viewed as a potential area of growth and opportunity, this new suite of digital applications offers dramatic improvements in cost-efficiency, safety, and productivity.
Here are ten technologies that are changing the future of oil and gas:
1. REMOTE ASSET MONITORING
Drills and pipelines often operate in far-off locations and difficult-to-reach places, like under the ocean. Operators need to be able to see what’s happening, even if they can’t physically go and see for themselves. Remote Asset Monitoring uses sensors that track things like temperature, vibrations and integrity, to make sure the machines are working properly. If something breaks, Remote Asset Monitoring ensures a quick response.
2. PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE
Instead of relying on a schedule or waiting until something’s broken, Predictive Maintenance uses data from equipment it to show when maintenance is likely to be needed. With that extra leeway for planning, operators can avoid interruptions and shutdowns by servicing equipment during off-peak hours. Predictive Maintenance also saves money because equipment is only repaired when it needs to be.
3. AUTOMATED PRODUCTION ASSET OPERATIONS
One of the newer ways to get the most of a company’s assets is to use automated equipment, such as robots or self-driving trucks. With these, companies can operate, assemble, or maintain equipment around the clock, especially in remote or hostile environments. These machines can sense local conditions and even solve basic problems without help from a human.
4. BIOMETRIC MONITORING
As with other assets like drilling equipment or vehicles, companies need to help their workers be more productive and reduce risks. Wearable devices like RFID tags or GPS trackers can be used as Biometric Monitoring devices to track a worker’s location and even basic vital signs, which could prevent safety incidents by alerting workers if danger is nearby.
5. IN-FIELD MANUFACTURING
It can’t be avoided: equipment breaks down. But delays in the oilfield cost a lot of money, as much as $300,000 per day once a project is running. With In-field Manufacturing equipment such as 3-D printers, operators can reduce expensive downtime by producing specialized parts or components on-site. No more extra inventory or waiting for spare parts.
6. REMOTE ASSET OPERATIONS
Remote Asset Operations allow companies to manage all their facilities from a central location, like a head office. This reduces the number of people needed on site by allowing one team of experts to oversee operations and do troubleshooting. Remote Asset Operations are more efficient and safer, because fewer people are needed at each location.
7. FIELD PRODUCTIVITY
An oilfield company’s best assets are its workers, so it makes sense to give them the tools they need to do their jobs most effectively. Tools like tablets or augmented reality devices can improve Field Productivity by allowing workers to access to field data and engineering drawings, connect with head office, and communicate with experts.
8. PRODUCTION ASSET OPTIMIZATION
Simply put, Production Asset Optimization means getting the most out of what a company has, whether that’s using sensors to monitor equipment or analyzing data to find ways to improve performance, especially in complex oilfield activities. For example, there are several variables in steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) — such as solvent type or the amount of water — that can be optimized to recover the most oil from an oilsands field.
Oil companies need a lot of trucks and other vehicles to transport equipment and products. On-board sensors can be used to send real-time data back to the office to help track the vehicles and see how they are being used. With this information, companies can make improvements in Fleet Management practices, like choosing the best routes and promoting safer driving.
10. REMOTE ASSET INSPECTION
Assets need to be monitored, whether they’re nearby and easy to check or far away and difficult to reach. Remote Asset Inspection allows employees to use remotely controlled devices with imaging technology like infrared or X-rays to check those far-off operations. Workers can easily inspect equipment and detect problems, and they don’t need to make unnecessary visits.