Advance Productions into a Connected Digital Oilfield

A Connected Digital Oilfield

Take advantage of innovations in Ethernet connectivity and advanced software to improve production performance and share information across the supply chain

For over a decade, the digital oilfield has held the promise of improving safety and optimizing operations. Today, smart devices – elements of the Internet of Things (IoT) embedded in wellheads, on compressors and pump stations, and within refineries – continue to yield a new wealth of operational information. But making sense of that data is another matter.

Oil and gas companies have historically lagged behind other industries when it comes to asset management because they lacked the ability to efficiently collect, aggregate, share and act on data coming from disparate sources such as unconnected equipment, siloed proprietary networks and vendor databases. Additionally, cross-disciplinary data transparency is often hampered by application-centric information management.

To effectively tackle such problems, oil and gas companies need a unified network architecture to harness the collective power of people, technology and processes. Integrated control and information solutions enable oil and gas companies to build a connected infrastructure across their entire enterprise that meets the requirements of both the automation and the information layer, while also providing complete connectivity and integration of data.

Tap Into the Data Well

A major opportunity exists to make the most of production operations by creating an intelligent automation ecosystem – one where data collection is automated and stakeholders always have actionable information at their fingertips. This is the ConnectedProduction offering from Rockwell Automation.

A ConnectedProduction environment connects production equipment, devices and systems:

  • Artificial lift systems, including single-well or multi-well pad systems, offer improved visibility into processes. Artificial lift systems collect and combine multiple data streams – such as flow data, well-test data, well-completion data and other surface-processing equipment data – into a single data stream, making analysis easier. This means operators can assess well conditions more accurately and quickly, and make informed decisions to optimize operations. Moreover, the data is accessible via desktop or mobile device, and is cloud-based so that informed decisions can be made without having to physically visit each site.
  • Wellhead-monitoring systems enable operators to view real-time data and alarming from remote locations. The data is put in context and validated. This creates higher-quality data for operators to make more informed decisions when faced with factors that impact production.
  • Virtual, multi-phase flowmeters calculate a well’s three-phase flow (oil, gas and water) in real-time using existing instrumentation at the well. Production estimates can be compared against allocation targets, and operators can use these estimates to better understand changes in well production and make decisions about where to apply resources.

Predict Failure and Reduce Downtime

Downtime and equipment failure can quickly cost oil and gas companies a lot of money. A ConnectedProduction environment helps oil and gas companies resolve unexpected downtime faster – and even address issues before they lead to downtime.

Smart assets provide the critical information needed to operate by exception, which means companies can allocate skilled personnel only to the areas that need attention and/or to issues with the most significant production impact.

An intelligent notification system can send text messages, emails, and push notifications to key stakeholders – which means issues can be identified and addressed in real-time.

Scalable HMI systems can help maximize system availability with built-in failure detection and recovery.  Operators can make application changes in the systems from anywhere on the network, and mobile support helps keep stakeholders connected.

Advanced analytics and reasoning software can include predictive analytics to help spot trends that could lead to downtime. This helps operation teams improve planning and resource allocation around known issues.

Finally, technicians can use asset-management software to access audit trails and asset-configuration backups, which helps speed up troubleshooting and downtime resolutions.

From Mailbox to Cloud

A ConnectedProduction environment can streamline and better secure oil and gas operations, including an essential corner of the oil business: hydrocarbon transfers.

Hydrocarbon operations are often located across large geographical distances – near wellheads, storage tanks, pipeline inlets or terminals. Buyers and seller gain unattended access to oil supplies through a lease automatic custody transfer (LACT) unit. Historically, hydrocarbon transfers have relied on paper-based tickets that buyers drop into a mailbox next to the unit. This often resulted in lengthy billing delays and errors, since most LACT units had little automation and comparably less network connectivity.

Now, a cloud-based, asset-performance management solution can be attached to LACT skids. Truck drivers can input an ID number into the HMI, start the transfer, and watch their e-tickets become populated automatically while they unload or fill up on crude. The information is then sent to the secured cloud, and an invoice is generated for the customer. This system virtually eliminates errors and also allows site and operations managers to gain contextualized information on transfers - such as the type of oil coming out from each well, overall oil quality, and well productivity over time.

How it Works

When fully adopting the digital oilfield technologies, oil and gas companies can gain a comprehensive visualization and control that they need to help optimize production and improve efficiencies across the entire operation. It offers the opportunity to access previously unavailable equipment diagnostics – and even predictions of future performance, which is essential to remaining competitive as the industry landscape continues to fluctuate and evolve. And in a fully integrated environment, operators can even better track equipment conditions to maintain top efficiency.

Moving to a ConnectedProduction environment does not require a complete infrastructure overhaul. Instead, current investments, including existing automation systems and intelligent field equipment, can be connected all the way from the wellhead and surface processing to custody transfer.

This environment can be deployed, configured and run either on-premise, in the cloud, or in a hybrid model that combines both options. Once in place, ConnectedProduction environment becomes a common platform and allows operators to visualize and control all aspects of production. By collecting the right data and contextualizing it into real-time diagnostics, production trends and KPIs, oil and gas companies can help workers gain comprehensive understanding on equipment performance and make more informed decisions.

Close the Gap with Connectivity

As circumstances change, digital automation technologies support the industry in finding new ways to meet demand. The application of digital oilfield technologies to enable productivity can be a powerful mechanism to address the demand-side pressures of unique asset portfolios and close the supply gap by accelerating employee productivity.

Realizing The Connected Enterprise and reaping the exponential benefits from the convergence of automation, communications and information technology across digital oilfields, pipelines and refineries requires a holistic approach. Smart manufacturers can now leverage the ConnectedProduction environment to access and monitor their assets from upstream, midstream and downstream operations and merge disparate oilfield data into streams of actionable information – anywhere, anytime.    

Automation Today

Automation Today Asia Pacific, quarterly magazine published by Rockwell Automation Inc. is designed to deliver the latest industrial automation & information technology trends, case studies & application stories, new products & features.