Special Report: Editor’s Comment: An ever changing landscape
Smarter solutions bring greater visibility to the wellhead, writes Jonathan Sheikh-Miller
Onshore oil production provides many of the familiar, seemingly timeless images of the industry. Nodding donkeys bobbing rhythmically across an open desert landscape or upright Christmas Trees sitting atop a wellhead, a jumble of multiple valves.
But the upstream industry, like the rest of the hydrocarbon sector, is moving ever forwards, adapting and evolving at speed. A PwC report last year on Oil and Gas Trends summarised the segment’s ceaseless “ability to innovate and to reinvent itself”.
Managing and monitoring wellheads and equipment has undergone a sea change in recent years. The serene motion of a pumpjack belies the furious dissection and scrutiny of myriad pieces of data, which enables exploration and production (E&P) operators to keep a close eye on their kit, costs and margins.
The PwC paper also referenced how the oil and gas industry is increasingly looking to get the most value out of its fuel reserves, and one of the fundamental keys to achieving that is the adoption of new technologies at every level of operation.
This month, in the Special Report, we delve deep into the subject of wellhead and equipment enhancements, including some of the latest research and development trends, but beyond too. We explore how through-barrier diagnostic systems can enhance well integrity.
We also look specifically at how the human tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon disaster has ultimately led to human invention in the form of new cutting edge technology in blowout prevention (BOP) as innovators push the envelope in the pursuit of electrical BOPs.
As we went to print, news emerged of another tragedy at a well site in Oklahoma. The cause of the deadly explosion was not yet known but nevertheless it represents a shocking reminder of how new technologies can help shield workers from exposure to some of the dangers faced in the hydrocarbon industry and improve efficiencies – and thus safety.
Indeed, one of the recurring messages of the following pages is that, from wellhead to well integrity, new diagnostic automated technology is inevitably the only way forward for operators to improve and upgrade their systems.