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Optimising oilfields: increasing efficiency and safety

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Oilfield Technology,

Al Rivero, Rajant Corporation, explains the operational benefits achieved from connecting isolated oilfields to a central operations centre through wireless broadband networks.

Oil plays an essential role in economies across the globe, as it has swiftly become the world's most important source of energy since the mid-1950s. It is vital in the production of many essential items, including plastic, paints, detergents and even medicines. Despite the oil and gas market being valued at US$2 billion in 2019, and expected to reach US$3.81 billion by 2025, the sector can be volatile and unpredictable. While controlling the market is impossible, oilfield companies can control how they prepare for the unpredictability and ensure that their operations are optimised for every condition possible.

Oilfield operators can do this by embracing quicker and more innovative methods, so they are better prepared for the market. However, upgrading oil rigs can involve significant expenditure, so operators must utilise the most cost-effective solution.

A key component to achieving these operational gains is the ability to access real time data and monitor all of the assets and personnel operating within the network. Leveraging the right technology can enable operators to make a shift away from manual, disintegrated oil and gas processes, which could be keeping operators in the Dark Ages.

Oilfield challenges of today

The location of oilfields creates significant challenges. Oilfields are often based in remote areas on rugged terrain or deep out at sea spread hundreds of square miles apart. Wellheads are equipped with flow meters and other devices to measure and log data on pressure and pump function. Still, the information is only accessible at each physical wellhead, with no link back to the central command centre. Therefore, operators must manually collect the data from the wellhead sensors and bring it back for evaluation each week, which requires driving out to each well site. As operators are travelling to remote locations, there are little means for the command centre to monitor their safety during the journey.

Time is another crucial factor that operators must consider. By the time data reaches the command centre, and problems have been identified, it may already be too late. These problems may have been causing inefficiencies in the oil rig for days, or even weeks. Even one pump operating at less than optimal performance could be costing the company thousands of gallons in missed oil extraction and production.

If a well were to run dry during this lack of visibility, this could cause a downhole pump to burn up. This would mean considerable outlay in replacing equipment, associated downtime costs, and the need to dispatch technicians to remote locations to address any problems.

This current process is entirely reactive, extremely labour-intensive, and highly costly.

Finding a solution

Oilfield operators need a network that can be deployed across large-scale oilfields, and wireless connectivity, which is instantaneous, simple and fail-proof in mission-critical and extreme oil and gas environments. Having the ability to monitor any number of well conditions in real time and instantly identify brewing issues before they cause expensive downtime or production delays will ensure operators have optimised every aspect of the oilfield's operations. With real time access to an array of data, operators will have the insight to predict a costly failure before it occurs. They can also immediately dispatch technicians with all the information they need to ensure a first-time fix, and closely manage their safety.

Having an easily deployable network to enable real time visibility into all personnel location and status is impactful to operations. Keeping all applications continuously connected to the command centre, no matter where man or machine is travelling, enhances safety response times significantly.

Creating connectivity

As oilfields are typically located in isolated locations, they cannot access the network by conventional means. Rajant’s Kinetic Mesh® can provide oilfields with the connectivity they need to increase operational efficiency. The company’s BreadCrumb® nodes can be installed on equipment, vehicles, and technician devices, which will create the crucial link between the business-critical field assets and central operations centre. The BreadCrumbs rapidly self-configure to route high-bandwidth data, voice, and video applications while ensuring sensitive information remains highly secure as it travels.

The range of applications supported by Kinetic Mesh is virtually unlimited – from remote monitoring of platform and equipment conditions, voice and data communications, and video security. Oil rigs are also portable and transported from one drilling site to the next, and with the company's technology, the network can move with it. Obstructions are no obstacle and line-of-site unnecessary.

Greater safety and productivity

The benefits of deploying a solution that provides fully mobile wireless connectivity and evolves with an operator’s communication demands are innumerable. The industrial environment is safer, technicians more productive, processes optimised, efficiency maximised, and oil extraction increased at every well. Oilfields can be prepared for whatever the future holds by investing and embracing the right, mission-critical networking technology.

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