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Intelligence at the well: Keeping staff safe and profits up

Often when we think of oil and gas, we think of huge international producers with thousands of well sites across the world. However, this doesn’t represent everyone in the oil and gas industry. There are many small- to medium-sized producers parsed across the world with only a fraction of well sites compared to production giants. This means these smaller producers must be agile and resourceful to keep up with the big guys. The right technology at the well pad enables these smaller players to compete by reducing manual inspection costs and mitigating safety and environmental concerns.

Intelligence at the well pad

Today’s technology allows analytics and intelligence to be applied right at the wellhead environment. This is a step further than traditional communications because it enables processing power, intelligent applications and programmability at the meter and sensor level. With intelligent processing power at the edge of networks, the wellhead is poised for automation, as well as predictive analytics, remote command and control, new protocol translations and modern cloud-based services.

Edge intelligence helps operators streamline jobs and provides IT decision-makers with data that helps them understand daily operations. Edge intelligence and app programmability makes this possible by powering data transmission, improving data quality and enabling data analysis. This new concept of processing and taking action on well data at the source saves operators time, improves efficiency and increases safety.

For example, utilizing an edge processing device that has data storage and RAM capability, operators can implement simple programs that send well and meter data directly to managers via email. Alarming, trend analysis and automatic shutdown are other examples of edge intelligent applications that can be written on open-source programming platforms like Linux and Node-RED.

Connecting intelligent systems

Clearly, edge intelligence provides business benefits, but selecting the right technology to connect these systems can be a challenge. Operations managers need a wireless communication technology that can support next-generation well pad needs. The technology must include a combination of local data monitoring, logic execution and remote, real-time data visualization. This is especially beneficial at well pad sites that are remote and isolated.

The good news is that technology and operations decision-makers now have comparable technology options:

  • Wi-Fi enables voice, video, sensor data access and perimeter security at the wellhead. Additionally, intelligent monitoring systems can use Wi-Fi for rapid maintenance at the well pad, saving precious time for maintenance staff. Wi-Fi also allows for operations staff to troubleshoot or collect data from a remote location, such as an office or a truck. RFID devices and wearable safety devices can also be connected to the Wi-Fi networks to ensure that every staff member is kept safe on-site.
  • Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum, or FHSS, RF technology can ensure data transport in the absence of Wi-Fi. The wireless intelligence located on the devices in the sensor network enables local execution on the RF devices, which supports data storage or data collection and analysis. And on cloud-based services, collected data can be shared globally or have additional analysis applied to it. Wireless telemetry can also be used in hazardous environments through modular wireless I/O solutions with sensors to monitor specific points along the wellhead.
  • Programmability ensures operations are optimized for today’s requirements, and that it anticipates future technology and connectivity needs.

Benefits beyond ROI

Well pad intelligence leads to ROI, not only through wireless automation and control, but also by transforming operations and streamlining production. Smaller oil and gas producers now have the power to make intelligent decisions by using processing power and programmability at their well pads and reducing costly, and sometimes dangerous, manual inspections. Using edge intelligence creates a more secure operating environment and communications network. These solutions not only benefit the operators today, but prepare them for future technology needs.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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