Refining The Oil And Gas Industry With IoT
IoT in the oil and gas sector isn’t limited to just plant and rig operations. There are additional applications in offshore environments, employee health and safety, and supply chain management. Forbes lists the benefits that IoT can bring to this sector, resulting in improved productivity and higher overall efficiency.
The oil and gas industry is making headway in realizing the potential of IoT by making things much easier for companies to carry out their daily operations.
Benefits of using IoT in oil and gas operations
Here’s how the use of IoT in oil and gas operations is transforming the industry:
Drilling is a major part of oil and gas industry procedures. The Internet of Things proves to be a boon for enhancing efficiency in the drilling procedure. As the rig digs deep, it leads to potentially dangerous circumstances. Rig operators must take precise measurements to extract oil by drilling. If deep-water drilling is carried out in the wrong way it leads to mishaps. IoT devices are beneficial for minimizing risks and carrying out tough operations seamlessly. Smart devices also alert concerned personnel well in advance about any drilling errors using the data received from sensors.
Pipeline leakage is one of the major issues faced by the oil and gas industry. It leads to major financial, environmental, and reputational damage to the company. IoT helps monitor the pipeline system and its components like pipes, pumps, and filters. Without IoT, companies have to rely on human resources to carry out periodic routine checks and maintenance. IoT helps cut down on manual checks as it can monitor pipelines in real-time. The real-time data can help in significantly reducing major hazards that are associated with pipeline leakages and other unwanted situations. Employees can be quickly put in use to fix any issues which may result in significant danger. Another advantage of using IoT in the oil and gas industry is the efficient management of employees and the plant. Employees will be required to carry out maintenance only when an abnormality is detected. This eliminates the need for periodic human inspection, and human resources can be managed efficiently. Moreover, planned shutdowns and efficient management of materials can be done using IoT.
IoT helps monitor things like pipe pressure, flow rate, among other performance parameters. A lot of measurement and data is required regarding every component of the refinery. This is time-consuming and costs the company a lot if done manually. Some areas need precise measurements in real-time. For example, a certain valve may need to be controlled based on the flow-rate monitored at some other place. In such a case, a change in the flow rate would require an instantaneous control of the valve. The IoT allows for more data collection accurately at places can’t be accessed by human resources. Sensors can be placed at various points that are hard to access by employees and can provide more data. This helps for the round-the-clock monitoring of the refinery. According to a report, the oil and gas companies can improve their production by 6% to 8% with proper utilization of data.
Most offshore oil and gas production is done in extreme environments. There are very few communication networks available at these rigs. Monitoring temperatures, pressures, and other equipment monitoring become a difficult task and an expensive one too. IoT helps overcome these hurdles to provide an efficient monitoring system. Using Low-Powered Wide Area Network (LPWAN), a lot more monitoring points can be connected. This implementation provides a relatively inexpensive solution for offshore oil and gas rig monitoring. Multiple leak detectors can be connected to oil wells within a large area. Each of these detectors can send the data to a central point in real-time. The data can then be leveraged to monitor the drilling and oil extraction process remotely.
Real-time ship and fleet monitoring is a very important aspect for fleet managers. Oil and gas cargo ship monitoring is similar to its offshore equivalent. There’s no connectivity at the ocean, and the workers have to rely on satellite internet. There are limited options available if the workers need data from around the ship. The data from these ships is huge in itself. IoT provides for easy data collection from these points. LPWANs provide easy monitoring options for parts of a ship that aren’t frequented by ship personnel. Sensory monitoring devices provide safety as well as convenience in gathering data from points that are not easily accessible. Some elements of cargo ships have to be wired due to real-time needs, whereas some non-operational elements don’t need to be connected in real-time. Therefore, small IoT networks prove to be a great alternative to wired sensors.
Health and safety
Oil and gas sites are usually found at dangerous and remote locations. The conditions at these sites prove to be a hazard for the employees working at these locations. IoT solutions provide for remote monitoring of equipment and operations, no longer requiring individuals to go to a site without prior knowledge of the situation at hand. Connected sensors and image vision can provide an accurate detail of the situation and help decide the safest course of action. IoT in oil and gas can help reduce deaths and injuries caused to employees significantly. The fatality rates among oil and gas employees are decreasing, and IoT can help bring down the number to a greater extent. Accidents can prove to be expensive to the companies financially as well as damage the reputation of the company. By using IoT-enabled safety measures, oil and gas companies can provide their workers with a safe working environment. The companies can also benefit from lower insurance and corporate liability.
Carbon footprint control
The implementation of IoT in oil and gas operations results in the efficient working of the industry. IoT solutions prove beneficial financially as well as environmentally. With efficient management and working of the plant, the carbon emissions generated by them can be reduced significantly. It helps lower the environmental footprint generated by oil drilling and production operations. Oil and gas companies can thus carry out their moral responsibility of not impacting the environment in a harmful way while carrying out operations.
The oil and gas industry has always faced the problem of inventory planning and optimization. IoT helps in efficient planning and scheduling in the supply-chain process. Refineries can use sensors to detect the blends of crude oil incoming and the exact location where the barrels are stored. This data proves valuable for operation and production decisions. The use of IoT in oil and gas supply management chain brings transparency and authenticity to the industry.
In recent years, the competition among oil and gas companies has been increasing. The leading organizations are seeking strategies to help maximize efficiency and improve their profits. Focusing on short-term cost-cutting measures can hamper long-term business success. Investing in IoT will ensure companies are more successful in reducing their operating costs. Improving efficiencies, the demand and supply predictions, and streamlining expensive processes can be achieved significantly with IoT solutions. Minimizing the unnecessary expenditure in terms of capital and human resources can help companies cut down on operating costs significantly.
Creating ‘smart’ oil and gas will continue to be a long, evolving process. IoT solutions are making their way from the plant to boardrooms. The use of IoT in oil and gas is thus, not limited to only the plant and rig operations, but covers many, if not all, aspects. The IoT and the data generated by these devices are helping change the way the industry operates and ushering a new era of efficiency and profitability for the companies involved.