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Creating a Smarter Oil and Gas Industry, Part 3: Field Enablement and Remote Sensors

- October 27, 2014 8:48 am

AQ11149The Canadian Oil and Gas industry spans a vast geography, from remote operations in the high arctic to offshore platforms in the Atlantic coast. As discussed in part two of this series, the Canadian Oil and Gas industry faces significant challenges. The resources we need for production are in places that require hours of travel, but today’s Digital Oilfield collaboration environment is restricted to physical rooms and fixed locations.

This restricts the value of collaboration to only those who have access to the “rooms.”  Significant productivity gains exist when we can provide collaboration beyond the field and head office.  By enabling the remote field worker with collaboration beyond the field office, we are enabling the field engineer or maintenance person and increasing their productivity. I call this Field Enablement.

The reality of the coming labour shortage means Canadian Oil and Gas companies will have to do more with less people, and look for alternative ways to connect the limited expertise available to field operations to meet growth demands of shareholders and the industry.  Even the Digital Oilfield can’t create remote welders, pipe fitters or construction workers, but it can increase the productivity of the engineers, geo-scientists supervisor’s and support resources which are integral to meeting the growth demands in the next decade.

This will require a re-think of the current Digital Oilfield, which so far has focused on fixed facilities, both field and head office, with proprietary applications and emphasis on data flow from field to office. Going forward, that focus with change. Field Enablement will focus on taking the expert to the field without leaving the office. Imagine that.

New innovations from Cisco will re-shape the Digital Oilfield. By seamlessly integrating our mobility, voice, collaboration, and security technologies into single porthole field workers will have the ability to connect with any expert. Going forward, decisions that need to be made in the field will happen in real-time without borders. Cisco will enable true field-to-office collaboration. Any device, any data, any application, anywhere. By connecting the unconnected, Cisco will be critical in enabling the Oil and Gas industry to connect the field to the office in a completely new way.

In addition to mobile collaboration, remote sensor technology is fast becoming a cost-effective solution.

Consider task automation.  The industry is looking for ways to do more with less. The fact is, they have to because the industry will not be able to replace the knowledge lost in the next 10 years as workers retire.

So the question isn’t how can we optimize a specific workflow or process, but rather how can we eliminate the need for people to perform many of the daily tasks currently done by travelling to remote locations to free them up to perform higher value activities. This will be done by enabling remote monitoring, and in the near future, remote intervention.  A new study by Berg Insight indicates the O&G industry will be transformed by a wave of M2M technology in the next 2-4 years:

“The installed base of active oil and gas M2M devices is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 21.5% from 164,000 units to 435,000 units by 2016.  The installed base of cellular and satellite based M2M devices in 2016 are forecasted to be 275,000 units. On-shore well field equipment monitoring and in-land pipeline monitoring will be the top two applications for wireless M2M in the oil and gas industry.”

Watch for the final part of this series coming soon, where I will summarize the Digital Oilfield and look ahead to my next series. Until then, please leave a comment below.

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