When producing an extra quarter or half a barrel per well each day might mean an extra $200 million a year more in incremental revenue, you know efficiency really pays off in the oil and gas sector.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is bringing about this type of efficiency and so much more for the energy industry in this era of tightened budgets and narrow margins. One key element of this digital transformation is predictive maintenance, where “conscious” systems are able to tell oil field operations managers what they need and when they need it.
“Self-aware systems now lead to real-time monitoring of conditions and provide predictions for immediate responses – people, equipment, repairs, and technology – to problems or challenges around a particular well, pipeline or other field asset. When it comes to good production, predictive analysis is vital to preventative maintenance,” explains Greg Mitchell, Managing Director at Deloitte.
Mitchell describes a scene where telemetry devices are malfunctioning at one well, unexplained low production arises at another, and a holding tank nears capacity. Using sensors through an IoT system a technician can be automatically dispatched to the highest priority situation or the most efficient route, in order to tend to issues in a timely and cost-efficient manner.
A fully integrated IoT system goes so much further however. Field and plant workers themselves can be monitored, using tracking technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), in order to improve safety and allow quick response from the best located workers. The system also tracks assets and stock levels to automatically reorder in advance of shortages, replacing labor intensive and error prone traditional processes.
“These systems understand and can predict equipment or down hole disruptions based on sensor-driven data. They understand which material shipments are on time, lagging behind or ahead of schedule, as well as weather conditions or other events that could impact delivery or productivity. The ability to monitor and optimize all assets globally, 24/7, is critical,” explains Mitchell.
IoT applications for the oil and gas sector have emerged at a time when the industry needs them most. Companies across the sector are now discovering the efficiency, safety and cost-saving benefits the IoT can bring to their operations. This digital transformation is now well underway, predictive maintenance is just the tip of the energy sector’s IoT iceberg.
“The potential benefits of predictive analysis are clear: increased production, lowered expense and optimal utilization of parts and assets—not to mention a giant sigh of relief from the corner office,” concludes Mitchell.