MD Series | IoT in Oil and Gas

The Oil and Gas industry extracts almost US $2 trillion worth of oil each year, and therefore would benefit from any process improvements that would reduce costs or increase oil output. The upstream segment of the Oil and Gas industry (exploration and production) loses billions of dollars every year due to non-productive time (NPT). IoT can be used to assist reducing NPT events by using real-time data to predict breakdowns, schedule preventative maintenance and prevent accidents.

Most offshore oil and gas production is done in extreme environments where there are only a few existing communication networks available. This makes monitoring temperatures, pressures, flow rates, and other characteristics difficult and expensive. To deal with these realities, critical data is often extracted through satellite communications or wired networks, both of which come at a high cost. An added challenge is that certain areas of the refinery need to function in real-time. For example, a change in flow rate would require almost instantaneous control of a valve.

The IoT can also help monitor pipeline components, like pumps and filters. Without sensors, a company would have to manually perform periodic, routine maintenance every few months. But now with the additional data gathered from IoT systems, predictive maintenance can be implemented. This would allow for component replacements to occur only with the degradation of performance of the systems.

Use Cases in this industry include:

  • Conducting predictive maintenance
  • Managing the performance of rotating equipment
  • Optimizing the replacement of expensive components in drilling
  • Tracking expensive assets such as logging tools and trucks, etc.
  • Surveilling unmanned production platforms
  • Ensuring early detections of leaks
  • Monitoring pipelines
  • Implementing machine-to-machine communication
  • Tracking personnel to improve safety
  • Decreasing human intervention

Finally, one of the primary concerns with oil and gas pipelines is leakage, and the financial, environmental, and reputational damage it could cause. Companies could lose their assets, and their pollution could potentially lead to astronomical fines.

IoT is certainly being used to circumvent these issues in the role of predictive maintenance. Manufacturers and companies now offer a plethora of IoT products to the Oil and Gas industry to assist in resolving the above Use Cases. (Links to an external site.)

Cutter Business Journal: Vol 30, No.7, 2017: opportunities and Challenges for IIoT in Oil and Gas


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