Perhaps surprisingly, the oil and gas sector often leads the charge into ecological technology. Since most of the world now wants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while also reducing expenditures and reliance on energy brought in from other countries, it is clear that this industry must adapt to survive. Of course, oil and gas businesses may extract energy from local sources. But even then, their carbon emissions are incompatible with the attempt to reduce the total human carbon emissions. This means energy efficiency is a primary business priority in consumption and production. Regardless of your position as an upstream, midstream, or downstream company, we’ve got appealing new internet of things (IoT) opportunities for you to discover. Read on to learn some fascinating new IoT oil and gas use cases.
Three Aspects of Digital Transformation in Oil and Gas
IoT and related hardware and software promise comprehensive transformation within the oil and gas industry. Still, their ideal use case depends on your business goals. Here’s a short, non-exhaustive list of some of the main ways IoT can transform the oil and gas industry:
- Asset tracking. IoT lets you tag physical assets with electronic circuits and hardware sensors to monitor various parameters through an app or platform. This data could be real-time data, historical data, or maintenance data. Collecting data in this way can help you monitor performance and diagnose service outages or hazardous environmental conditions, not to mention boosting your field efficiency and reducing downtime.
- Resource monitoring. Oil and gas businesses can use data to explore the potential of new resources, for instance, unmapped reservoirs. Thousands of networked seismic sensors can reveal an optimal drill site for finding new oil. IoT hardware and software also make it possible to find unknown drilling locations and improve the productivity of current drill sites by mapping surface areas. Smart searches or data-informed exploration techniques can save tremendous money and time. Leveraging the power of digital transformation in oil and gas equips you to avoid areas of inefficient extraction, better predict production, and track customer consumption or forecast likely demand.
- Smart predicting. Systems leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI) can find patterns hidden from human eyes, and such systems are great at making predictions. Whether you are upstream or downstream, these attributes of AI remain equally valid and valuable. Smart algorithms paired with inexpensive sensors can help you identify anomalous behavior in your smart equipment to take the appropriate action before a catastrophic failure. This data-informed approach helps you make confident predictions about oil and gas production volumes. The same techniques and technology can also allow you to evaluate needs and calculate end-user product pricing. Regarding the logistics chains, you can use AI to predict the time to move products to the refinery more accurately.
Four Practical IoT Oil and Gas Use Cases
Whether you are upstream, downstream, or midstream, IoT solutions can benefit your business.
- If your business is upstream, you can use IoT to save money and time through remote control of research, exploration, and drilling operations. You can also extract more value from materials and minimize equipment downtime.
- If you represent a midstream team that looks after the transportation of oil and gas resources, digital transformation through IoT in your fleet can stretch your budget much further. Distributed sensors and IoT-enabled processing can optimize your logistics and improve cargo quality through better and more consistent storage conditions. At the same time, you can keep breakdowns to an absolute minimum.
- If your company is downstream, you can use IoT-enabled predictive analytics with pipeline-based sensors. This technology and technique can help you better predict demand, source customers more efficiently, and calculate optimal pricing.
Softeq is an Internet of Things company that can improve the efficiency of upstream, midstream, and downstream businesses, enabling them to collaborate and cooperate more effectively. This industry includes many places requiring attention, such as drilling equipment, trucks, tanks, pipelines, and containers. Similarly, there are many things to predict, from failures in downtime to changing market conditions. So let’s consider these IoT applications in the oil and gas industry.
Case 1. Remote Monitoring
A well-designed IoT system can replace human workers almost anywhere that remote monitoring is a viable option. This replacement of onsite human workers through digital transformation enables businesses to remotely monitor refinery production, oil wells, or pipelines. Distributed sensor hardware collects data algorithms to analyze that data and platforms for software systems, then notify you of what’s happening. These tools have been impressive for quite some time, but now, we have even more advanced and well-developed systems.
One example is comprehensive monitoring using digital twins, a virtual replica of a system or equipment unit. You can install sensors in the field on physical objects and then send and track the performance data within a continuously updated virtual copy, which has some exciting ramifications. For example, an upstream company can simulate drilling virtually and track relevant project updates. A 3D or virtual reality site visit can reveal potential bottlenecks or other issues. Real-time outputs let you compare and contrast your historical data and examine the performance changes resulting from grid upgrades. Finding and fixing bugs using digital twin technology can even be possible.
Now, in applications where sensors aren’t ideal, drone hardware is often a perfect fit. Remotely piloted drones can capture photos and videos to let you examine the condition of your equipment. You can also scan and process the visual footage that your drones collect and use machine learning (ML) software to identify any unusual behavior. Smart oil and gas companies can use this monitoring to slash operating costs drastically. These IoT technologies and techniques also help your workforce by eliminating the need for employees to go to hazardous areas, and instead letting them monitor these places via IoT-enabled electronic circuits.
Practical Example. Sky-Futures has developed a solution to facilitate drone inspection of oil rigs. Sky-Futures processes the visual data using dedicated software with smart algorithms. In addition, machine learning capabilities reveal equipment faults even in 2D captured images.
Case 2. Improved Performance
IoT in oil and gas suddenly makes it possible for you to collect sensor data from trucks, drilling equipment, containers, and pipelines. This data could be concerning the level of products within tanks, the state of equipment health, or historical information about the generation for transfer to refineries. Moreover, with the digital transformation enabling smart prediction in the pipeline, you get hints to help you increase efficiency and maximize your earnings.
Practical Example. A joint solution Siemens Energy and Bentley Systems created for the oil and gas industry tracks assets and improves maintenance schedules in gas processing plants and compressor stations using predictive analytics. This tool can run powerful tests and analyze complex risk scenarios to help you maximize plant uptime.
Case 3. Predictive Maintenance
Deploying IoT on expensive equipment can help you identify anomalies or abnormal behaviors before they cause catastrophic failures, such as in shaft bearings or vacuum pumps. You can install sensors on pipelines, rigs, and tanks to continuously monitor their operational parameters and collect and send relevant data. The dedicated app can send alerts to the appropriate personnel in case any trouble appears. Your technicians can also use this information to monitor the wear and tear of individual equipment units and more evenly distribute this across multiple items to maximize the useful life of machinery. This data helps with repairs and preventive maintenance while drastically reducing the likelihood of catastrophic failures. Timely alerts and smart predictions also make your operations more sustainable by reducing the likelihood of leaks of potentially hazardous materials.
Practical Example. Uptake made a machine learning-assisted application to help predict what will occur in the fields. This smart solution monitors the health of each piece of equipment in your facility and deduces potential issues.
Case 4. Safety Management
IoT solutions for the oil and gas industry contribute significantly to health and safety in the working environment. To comply with these ever-changing rules, it may be necessary to:
- Monitor working conditions
- Track emissions levels at production sites and report these to appropriate authorities
- Monitor offshore oil drilling rigs for any operational anomalies
There is a whole range of viable solutions in this area. Examples include hazard reporting apps, GPS systems, and remote inspections using drones. Some oil and gas companies are also enhancing protection using wearable technology. Examples of deployed wearables include smart vests, helmets, augmented reality glasses, and smart wristbands. Each wearable can secure your workers while simultaneously monitoring conditions within the surrounding environment and alerting the worker or remote personnel in the event of any emergency. Smart wearables can even use their sensors to notify a manager teammate of any signs that suggest fatigue or distress on the part of a worker.
Practical Example. Blackline offers protection through the use of smart wearables. A wearable device tracks and reports each worker’s location while monitoring for gas exposure or emissions and highlighting any hazardous areas. This wearable device can include two-way communication between team members to send and receive notifications and voice messages.
To Sum Up
Like in many other industries, IoT accelerates digital transformation and overall change within the oil and gas industry. These technologies and techniques allow you to enhance efficiency, improve sustainability, and add smart automation to your business. The long list of possible IoT solutions for the oil and gas industry adds a huge range of valuable features. You can use this technology to implement performance monitoring, smart asset tracking, and better compliance with emissions, safety, or logistics regulations.
You need a trusted partner when you go through any strategic business change, and implementing IoT in oil and gas is no exception. This process demands a comprehensive and robust technical approach to help you make the best use of the various technologies connected with IoT, such as cloud computing, edge computing, big data, and AI capabilities. Softeq has exactly the robust approach necessary to reach this outcome, so reach out and schedule a consultation today to see what transformations are possible in your business.