The increasing demand for energy puts an enormous pressure on offshore oil and gas operations. Without the right tools to improve the efficiency of production and delivery, supply won’t be enough to meet the market’s needs which, in turn, will limit the growth of the industry. This is why the oil and gas sector has turned to innovative solutions like Internet of Things technologies to help streamline their operations.
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things is the linking of a series of devices together in a way that they can receive and send out data via the Internet. These devices, also known as “smart devices,” can be anything from gadgets and equipment to vehicles and entire structures, which are connected to a network using integrated electronics and software. With Internet of Things, any device that can be activated or shut down can be controlled either by people or other devices connected to the network. Smart devices can remain connected despite being hundreds or even thousands of miles apart because they are typically backed by either a traditional or a wireless broadband infrastructure.
Applying the Internet of Things to Offshore Oil and Gas Operations
Internet of Things technology can be integrated into almost any aspect of offshore oil and gas operations. For example, sensors can be installed to the pumps found in an offshore rig. The sensors upload important information such as temperature, pressure, and other relevant factors directly into the cloud, which can be accessed not just by the people working on the oil rig but also the main offices inland. There’s no need for people onsite to manually send reports about the status of their equipment, which could take time and cause discrepancies if the information changes by the time the report gets to where it needs to be sent.
Aside from minimizing downtime, the Internet of Things also improves the safety of operations. Quick response times to problems are crucial in preventing minor issues from escalating into dangerous situations. Sensors can be used to trigger various alarms in case something goes out of hand and even update the main office so a response crew can be deployed ASAP. More dangerous tasks can also be tackled using robots, which can be remotely controlled to prevent problems that are mostly attributed to human error.
Automated Operations for Better Efficiency
With Internet of Things technologies relaying information instantly, it can also help cut down on the number of people working in an area. For example, instead of having a team of specialists in an offshore oil rig manually checking gauges and operating certain equipment, a series of sensors can provide 24/7 monitoring and send signals to smart actuators that can trigger start up or shutdowns as needed. The same devices can also be used by an inland crew to remotely operate the equipment. In some cases, shutting down equipment in one rig can even trigger activation of the same equipment located in another rig to compensate for lower output in one area.
The Internet of things is also useful beyond offshore rigs. Surveillance teams can deploy buoys or autonomous sea or air vehicles equipped with sonar, cameras, and other sensory equipment necessary for detecting signs that indicate possible drilling sites. A drill can also be equipped with sensors that can check for the presence of hydrocarbons and even monitor vibrations so the drill can be stopped or slowed down with a series of smart actuators to prevent getting damaged. This is a big help for companies that are seeking out drilling spots in deeper regions of the sea where manned surveillance is either impractical or too dangerous.
Internet of Things from Sea to Shore
Drilling for oil is just the first part of operations. Fleets of ships and fuel trucks travel up to thousands of miles working round the clock to get the crude to refineries. Weight sensors found on storage tanks make sure exactly the right amount of oil is transferred before being shipped out and updates can be sent to logistics once the weight of the load is emptied at its destination. This makes it possible for management to make adjustments on delivery schedules, routes, and even the amount of load for each vehicle to account for variations in travel time and ensure enough oil is delivered on time.
Modern civilization has always been able to progress thanks to fuel, which is why offshore oil and gas operations should be able to deliver fuel consistently and as fast as possible. The Internet of Things is an invaluable tool in making sure that companies in the industry can meet fuel demands for many years to come.