Features, Oil and Gas News

Enhancing the oil and gas industry with remote connectivity

Oil and gas companies are using remote connectivity and augmented reality to enhance on-site productivity, reduce costs and improve safety. Rockwell Automation is confident these technologies will bolster operational reliability, helping businesses make data, systems and processes more accessible and available.

The oil and gas industry is facing increased pressure to improve efficiencies across all streams to remain competitive in the COVID-19 climate.

At the end of last year, the industry would have never envisioned to be in the position that it is in today, with overcapacity, impacting oil prices and companies cutting costs to ensure they stay afloat.

Kevin Cole, Rockwell Automation industry sales manager for Australia and New Zealand, presenting in a webinar with Oil & Gas Today, said operators were driving for process efficiency and cost efficiency during these trying times.

“There are opportunities to reduce costs with the use of digital technologies to allow optimisation of well designs and to do offline proof of concepts before deploying wells,” Cole said.

“The other significant challenge in this point in time is workforce demographics and skills gap.”

Described as a time where organisations were competing for the same resources, Cole said many workforces had an ageing skillset that may not be suited to the digital future in the short- and mid-term.

Rockwell Automation has observed more integrated digital operations being deployed within the oil and gas industry. However, Cole reinforced that there was no standard digitalisation playbook for companies to follow.

“There are some things that are common to successful digitalisation, which starts at the operational approach. The business must first define the business problem. Define what success looks like for the business, and qualify the financial goals,” Cole explained.

The second step that helps with the success of digitalisation, is collaboration, according to Rockwell Automation.

“If we look at the industry it is not uncommon to have a different operator within the production, a different operator manages transportation, and there can be a different entity undertaking the processing of oil and gas,” Cole said.

“You need to spend at least 50 per cent of your effort within the culture and human resources framework if you are to achieve success with your digitalisation journey.”

The third step is data ownership, which Cole said was usually overlooked.

“Many departments see data as their source of power and relevance within an organisation. There really needs to be a discussion about data and who owns it. This links back to culture and collaboration,” Cole said.

Rockwell Automation commercial engineer for Australia and New Zealand, Derek Athanassiou, highlighted that during these trying times, he believes many companies have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Rockwell Automation no different.

Tasked with the job to to enable remote connectivity when COVID-19 hit, Athanassiou was part of a team that had to ensure the company’s domain experts around Australia and New Zealand could host virtual classrooms from the Competency Center in the Melbourne office for their customers.

The oil and gas industry has become a leader in remote connectivity due to its nature of their work which is based around remote assets.

“There are various reasons for needing this connectivity, with a big focus on the maintenance aspect and how it can improve up time, reduce risk and allow for remote assistance. Some of the drivers for remote

connectivity could be global economic shift, ageing infrastructure, issue resolution and workforce skills gap,” Athanassiou said.

Similar to how Zoom works with connecting people to people, remote connectivity connects people with machines or assets.

“Benefits of remote connectivity include: maximising asset uptime and productivity, rapid resolution means less downtime. Maintenance teams can use remote connectivity and monitoring to respond to problems faster and there is no need to physically go to the asset. This also reduces personnel risk by providing safer access to remote sites,” Athanassiou said.

Rockwell Automation has expanded its horizons in this area by partnering with PTC, a leader in augmented reality (AR).

Whereas virtual reality (VR) is a 3D virtual environment that a user can become immersed in typically by wearing goggles or a headset. AR enhances the user’s environment by inputting or overlaying a layer of virtual information on top of what they are already seeing.

Athanassiou said AR is rapidly becoming a trend within the industry, showing more and more benefits. This partnership means Rockwell Automation has access to several AR products, including Vuforia Chalk.

“Vuforia Chalk makes AR widely and quickly accessible. This is a solution to have an experienced or skilled technician at any time on site. Wherever a new problem arises, a field service technician or operator can contact the subject matter expert to get a fast diagnosis and solution, thus reducing downtime and saving money,” Athanassiou said.

Combining live video, audio and ability for both the remote and local participant to annotate their shared view and make mark-ups that are anchored to the real-world, Vuforia Chalk, whichonly needs a mobile device and the app to be accessed, is great solution.

“Chalk can be used in two ways, depending on the license chosen. It can be within a company environment which is referred to as a Chalk user, that is user to user Or it can be used, for example, by an OEM, who can host from their desktop and connect to an external user to be able to provide assistance ,” Athanassiou said.

Continuing to increase its skillset, Sensia (a joint venture between Rockwell Automation and Schlumberger) brings together leading solutions: the pioneering process automation, real-time control and IoT technologies of Rockwell Automation, combined with the unmatched measurement and instrumentation, software and analytics capabilities of Schlumberger. The main goal of Sensia is to overcome the performance challenges of Oil and Gas operations.

Sensia regional manager, digital oilfield solutions for Asia Pacific, David Turner, said the joint venture company employs 1000 people, and services over 80 countries.

The company draws attention to practical ways to reduce the time between anomaly detection and issue resolution through connected production.

Connected production can help companies overcome the challenges digital transformation brings to the surface, from connecting multiple or disparate systems to cleansing data.

Embracing digital technologies and accelerating its deployment improves operational efficiencies and validates the case for digital transformation in the oil and gas industry.

Sensia is the first fully integrated digital oilfield automation solutions provider, which makes the production, transportation and processing of oil and gas simpler, safer and more secure.

“Connected production integrates data from different system sources, integrating them into a collaborative environment, along with sophisticated workflows and advanced analytics,” Turner said.

“By implementing gateways and connecting to existing data sources we can deploy connection production systems, which will give you real time data. Once that is up and running, we can add additional value by looking at your field base, which we then extend the systems for the future.”

As a result of remote connectivity, digitalisation and augmented reality, the challenges the oil and gas is facing are easier to manage, allowing the sector to achieve sustainable growth and productivity.

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