This article originally appeared in Digitalisation World on April 4, 2017
The Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to radically change the way we monitor and measure an almost unlimited number of tasks. To date consumer applications have included health monitoring through wearable heart monitors, smart controlled appliances in the home and connected security systems in smart cities around the world. However, the real benefit is likely to be felt by business and industry, where remote monitoring and measurement will vastly reduce cost and strip back monitoring processes. What effect will connected technologies have on traditional markets such as the Oil & Gas Industry? By Fluenta.
The problem with emissions
A major consideration for the Oil & Gas Industry is reducing emissions. The introduction of advanced IoT technology means oil and gas companies now have the potential to streamline emissions-heavy processes and improve emissions reporting.
Consider gas flaring: a process in the Oil & Gas Industry that has been recognised as a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and consequently global warming. Based on satellite data, more than 150 billion cubic metres (or 5.3 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas is released into the atmosphere each year through natural gas flaring and cold flaring operations.
In November 2015, the COP21 climate change conference in Paris saw a number of oil and gas companies sign a pledge to reduce routine gas flaring to zero by the year 2030. This means an increased focus on emissions being recorded and shared with regulators. The Oil & Gas Industry has come a long way in its recognition and reduction of emissions. However, under increased regulatory scrutiny, it is crucial that the flaring of natural resources is strictly limited and only takes place when absolutely necessary. It is connected technologies that are now helping to measure and manage these processes more effectively.
IoT and emissions measuring
Historically, recording and sharing emissions data would have involved recording the volume of gas flared locally and sharing data on a periodic basis. However, connected measurement technology means that now this information can be monitored and measured in real time through secure hosting in the cloud. By using cloud technology to record gas flaring, companies can build a better picture of trends over time and use this insight to drive emissions strategies.
For example, on a rig where flaring only happens after certain maintenance procedures, real-time data can provide insight to more effectively manage the flaring process – reducing the amount of wasted gas. Over an extended period of time organisations may begin to see patterns emerging that enable them to more effectively predict which rigs will flare more gas than others.
Cloud technology and internet everywhere
Cloud technology and the availability of internet connectivity has driven significant change in remote asset management. Cloud infrastructure enables the constant monitoring and storage of data on remote servers anywhere in the world in real time via IoT. Monitoring equipment installed on local assets transmits information to software that is stored on central servers, rather than physically on an oil and gas site. When real-time data is fed into software such as a continuous emission monitoring system (CEMS), organisations can collect, record and report data remotely –this method has several benefits.
Providing they are connected to the internet, businesses can access CEMS data and analyse it using a variety of devices. With internet connectivity available almost anywhere, businesses can access the real-time data feeds of remote assets from multiple sites anywhere in the world. It is not necessary to store and run the software on a machine on-site, which reduces cost and removes the need to have on-site staff. Additionally, the data is stored securely on multiple remote servers with back up and is not dependent on the health and reliability of an on-site machine.
Remote action can be taken to update software, shut down failing or faulty systems, and if there is a danger of explosion, extract on-site personnel immediately.
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