Disrupting monitoring and response
Monitoring & response is seeing some of the biggest leaps in innovation as small companies try to disrupt the segment and help operators transform
Monitoring & response has high potential for disruption; that is simply the nature of the segment. What used to be accomplished by pen and paper shifted to spreadsheets and, now, can be done with a high degree of autonomy thanks to artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and machine learning, among other technologies.
Most upstream oil and gas companies are quite familiar with the benefits of sensorising their assets, and are learning the importance of connecting those assets to a central monitoring hub, presenting a wider view of operations, greater transparency across the organisation and allowing employees to more quickly identify problems.
Large national oil companies, like the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, have devoted plenty of resources towards this increased transparency and capability. ADNOC’s Panorama Command Centre connects data from all of its companies to give one overarching view of the group’s operations. It is the first step towards predictive maintenance, which is where the real opportunity lies.
“Streamlining and visualising our entire operations and critical business information on a single 50-metre video wall in one secure facility puts big data at the fingertips of our sharpest minds and enables us to uncover and recommend new pathways to optimise our assets and infrastructure, as well as facilitate faster and more-informed decision-making,” said Abdul Nasser Al Mughairbi, senior vice president of digital at ADNOC. In a December 2019 interview with Oil & Gas Middle East. He also described it as a precursor to predictive analytics.
Responding to incidents quickly is important, but being able to predict them and resolve issues before an incident is priceless. Reduced downtime, availability of spare parts, and increased safety for workers in the field are some primary gains from predictive response. Simply put, it is not enough to monitor assets passively, especially when advances in technology enable much more; artificial intelligence allows companies to set a baseline for ‘normal’ behaviour of an asset based on historical data, and when it deviates from that baseline, it would alert them that a breakdown could be incoming.
Small companies are helping to enable these changes across the industry. One example is Tachyus, which develops artificial intelligence applications for oil and gas projects. Its technology combines artificial intelligence with data physics and modeling to predict asset failure, production responses to stimulation another parameters. Machine learning means that its technology only improves with time.
Seven Lakes Technologies, which takes monitoring and response in a different light. The company, founded in 2009, develops enterprise analytics and workflow software specifically for the upstream segment. The company uses electromagnetic technologies, originally created to detect explosives, to collect data inside wells.
Seven Lakes Technologies also developed software to schedule workers’ time on specific rigs, which adds another layer of transparency and insight to help operators better understand the issues that they face and the best ways to resolve them. While some might associate monitoring and response with physical assets, it also crucially encompasses safety applications for workers, and technology vendors have created sophisticated solutions to monitor workers, from their location to their heart rate, breathing, and surroundings.
The anatomy of monitoring is changing, in part because of small companies that are trying to do things differently. For example, Toku’s system allows tank level monitoring, pump jack efficiency monitoring and water injection management, centred around an internet of things application integrated with a pressure-sensing device.
Meanwhile, other companies are using lasers, ultrasound imaging, and other atypical technologies for inspection and monitoring. While some of these technologies are not yet integrated with the internet of things, and might not be leveraged for long-term monitoring, each of these companies is working on a specific pocket of the larger market, and combining some of these solutions could create a well-rounded solution to improve the industry and the status of monitoring and response.