Oil and gas (O & G) production is highly complex and unstable. The remoteness and isolation of offshore drilling platforms make it difficult for offshore oil and gas companies to timely and accurately understand their ongoing production. This means that operators often do not know when machine and process variables are not compliant, which may lead to asset failure and costly downtime. Worse, inadequate monitoring capacity may lead to catastrophic explosions, which will deal a heavy blow to the environment, workers’ lives and the company’s reputation. Today, the Internet of things (IOT) and next-generation connectivity bring unlimited business opportunities for reliable and cost-effective offshore monitoring.
Connectivity barriers for offshore drilling platform monitoring
In order to optimize efficiency and safety, upstream offshore oil and gas production requires all-weather monitoring of various equipment (pipelines, valves, wellhead, storage tanks, etc.) and parameters (temperature, vibration, pressure, flow rate, corrosion, gas leakage, etc.). Therefore, it is no wonder that offshore oil and gas companies have been at the forefront of the adoption of remote monitoring technology. Nevertheless, traditional communication solutions are either limited, expensive or cumbersome for connecting a large number of different assets on offshore drilling platforms.
Although wired infrastructure such as SCADA system is an ideal choice for real-time control tasks, it is not designed for data acquisition, so it can not be used for remote monitoring. Cellular mobile connections may not exist in the ocean. In addition, in view of the huge scale and complex and dense structure of oil drilling platforms, it is often difficult to establish a mesh network. Because of its seamless and ubiquitous, satellite network has become the most common choice for maritime wireless implementation. However, the high cost means that satellite networks mainly involve high bandwidth voice and data transmission, and only connect a few high-value key data points.
Oil and gas companies used to rely heavily on manual data reading and visual inspection to monitor most of their operations, equipment and facilities due to the lack of cost-effective and scalable communication solutions. Needless to say, this is very inefficient and error prone, while exposing workers to significant on-site hazards and hazards.
The rise of the Internet of things and next generation connectivity
Emerging Internet of things connectivity solutions such as low power wide area network (lpwan) are redefining the possibility of offshore oil and gas monitoring. Lpwan provides a cheap and low bandwidth wireless network for small and low computing devices. It will become the backbone of large-scale sensor networks to gather fine telemetry data from countless endpoints. the simple star topology and wide coverage make lpwan have multiple uses in the deployment of IOT in large and complex facilities (such as O & G platform). In particular, the proprietary lpwan allows companies to flexibly adjust network coverage to meet the unique needs of isolated and remote offshore sites.
Lpwan satellite hybrid architecture provides a highly reliable and cost-effective method for offshore oil and gas organizations to actively monitor and manage offshore infrastructure from hundreds of kilometers away. The data from distributed field sensors are aggregated at the local IOT base station through lpwan wireless network, and then forwarded to the onshore centralized command center using satellite network. With this architecture, companies can use a large number of new asset, environment and process data to fully understand their production and operation.
Enhanced visibility and oversight deliver the following compelling benefits:
Smart sensors installed on hundreds of different assets report key operating variables that help reveal anomalies prior to failure. This enables operators to dispatch personnel for inspection and maintenance before serious faults occur, so as to minimize production downtime and optimize asset use.
Hazard management and worker safety
The distributed environment sensor continuously checks the presence of flammable gases and toxic vapors in the atmosphere. At the same time, 24 / 7 asset monitoring helps to predict catastrophic asset failures that lead to explosions or offshore oil spills. In case of emergency, the on-site alarm can be triggered in time, so that immediate response measures can be taken to protect workers and prevent serious and irreversible disasters.
Continuously collect and analyze various data of drilling rig structure (such as strain, vibration, crack sound, etc.) and external weather conditions, so as to reliably evaluate the integrity of drilling rig and early diagnose any structural damage. Similarly, key infrastructure, such as watertight doors and ballast tanks, can also be monitored around the clock.
With complete production data, oil and gas company managers can effectively monitor and record compliance with regulations to ensure transparent and standard compliant operations.
Security and access control
Wireless sensors can identify suspicious activities in restricted areas to enhance site safety.
Due to its asset density and complexity, the oil and gas industry is considered to benefit greatly from the Internet of things and big data. The ability to connect large equipment and processes gives companies unprecedented visibility and control over their operations. Especially on offshore platforms, the new generation of Internet of things connectivity has raised remote monitoring and digitization to a new level to improve efficiency and security while minimizing human intervention.