Oil without a person: how robots and the Internet of things have changed oil production

Oil and gas production processes and technologies are constantly evolving, and so are the associated

production areas.More and more must be extracted to meet industrial demand, not only to produce gasoline or diesel fuel, but also to create the synthetic materials that modern man needs. Four out of five objects around us consist partly or entirely of plastics obtained from petrochemical plants.

Source: habr.com

Any kind of plastic - synthetic fabrics,plastic windows, packaging materials, water pipes, electronic device cases, medical equipment and much more are petrochemical products. The demand for these products is constantly growing, and with it the demand for the volumes of oil and gas production grows.

The main limitation of the resource supply process isthe market is their immediate prey. In order for the field to provide maximum return on resources, modern and high-tech methods for extracting oil and gas are needed. Technologies make it possible to increase the oil recovery factor from typical 30 to 70% and increase the flow rate of new wells to 100–150 tons per day, increasing oil recovery in accordance with market needs.

All areas are being modernized and improved.oil and gas industry: exploration and development of fields, mining and refining. Affected and related areas, including industrial safety, repairs and maintenance of equipment, logistics and transportation of petroleum products.

The most notable recent trends are the integration of the following technologies into the oil production processes:

  • The Internet of Things - gathering data from sensors in real time to automatically adjust technological processes.
  • Maximum robotization of processes and elimination of the human factor.
  • Virtual and augmented reality, 3D when performing equipment maintenance.
  • 3D-printing of the necessary elements of equipment directly on the field.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning for faster decision making in emergency situations in production.
  • Improving measuring and logging instruments (a type of well testing - “High-tech”) during the drilling process.
  • Modeling of the reservoir, drilling process and planning of multi-stage hydraulic fracturing based on big data.
  • Transition to modular drilling rigs withmaximum automation and increased safety, low noise and comfort for the staff. The travel time of such an installation is reduced from one and a half to two months to one week.
  • Video analytics and technical vision to improve work efficiency.
  • Interaction of oil companies, information exchange with contractors using blockchain technology.

Presence at the enterprise in a portfolio of greater numbertechnology gives a significant competitive advantage. Companies have the opportunity to reduce the cost of work and offer services at lower prices, thereby increasing the chances of getting a contract.

Is this just a theory?

No, all major industry players are already usingone or another of the technologies listed above. The interesting thing is that new products are being introduced not only at the level of IT solutions. The entire oil production sector is being modernized.

  • A striking example is the transition tofracturing technology. The method is to create artificialcracks so that gas or oil, as well as oil-containing products, move faster through them to the bottom of the well. As a result, the oil recovery factor increases significantly. Previously, the technology was not used due to its high cost, but now it is used more and more often both in long-developed and new fields.
  • Drilling rigs become modular- assembled like LEGO bricks,Moreover, for specific tasks, you can create specific solutions by simply adding or removing a certain element. Modularity increases efficiency while reducing economic costs during installation, as well as when moving equipment from place to place. The correct operation of drilling rig equipment is monitored using LoRa technology, which has become especially popular over the past five years.
  • 3D printing technologies are being worked out., which allows the production of spare parts,parts for units at remote sites with minimal time, without resorting to expensive delivery. Of course, local companies usually have certain reserves of spare parts for equipment, but sometimes items that are not in reserve fail, and the entire complex has to be stopped while waiting for spare parts to arrive. Delivery takes time, the production process is interrupted, and the company suffers losses. If a part can be manufactured on site, downtime is kept to a minimum. This scheme of operation is only being tested as “pilots”, but it is already being used in other areas, including astronautics.

  • Digital deposit doublesare becoming more and more in demand.To create such a “twin”, a mathematical model of the well, equipment and logistics schemes is developed. The general situation is analyzed, after which an economic model is created that shows which operating methods are effective for a particular field and which are not. Updating data in digital twins is one of the most important tasks that can be solved by Internet of Things technologies.
  • Actively used for data analysismachine learning. It allows you to assess the potential of newfields - the system will predict the availability of oil and gas reserves with a high degree of accuracy, calculating approximate volumes. As a result, the work of field data analysis experts can be reduced from six months to just a few hours. So far there are few such developments and they are all tests.
  • Predictive analyticswhere machine learning is used helpspredict equipment operating modes. Equipment (for example, transformers, pumps, electric motors and shut-off valves) are equipped with sensors that constantly collect data and transmit it to a central system for processing. After analysis, the system may determine that the motor will fail within 20 hours at current noise, load and vibration levels, so action must be taken to reduce the load and schedule maintenance. Whereas previously repair crews were sent to the site to resolve a production shutdown or accident caused by an electric motor failure, now technicians can predict problems and minimize risks.

Popular usage scenario in RussiaThe Internet of Things - monitoring of air-cooling apparatuses used in oil refining. The information collected by the sensors is analyzed and used in predictive analytics to prevent breakdowns of cooling systems.

The task of complete digitalization of an oil companyis very complex, since it is necessary to organize processes for collecting and information exchange of reliable and consistent data between mining, processing and marketing divisions, and preferably in real time. And these are thousands of departments and hundreds of thousands of employees. Creating an information model for interaction between departments costs significant amounts of money, so implementing a completely digital field project is sometimes expensive even for large players. According to statistics, the level of IT costs in oil companies can reach 1.5–3% of profits, but even such significant financial capabilities do not guarantee fast and successful digitalization.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of interesting cases that oil companies have announced as successful in the market.

Gazprom Neft, RFID and Blockchain

Last year, Gazprom Neft took part ina pilot project for the introduction of the blockchain and the Internet of things in logistics. RFID tags and a satellite positioning sensor were installed on the purchased valves. Radio tags recorded the movement of valves from the time of shipment in Veliky Novgorod to the storage base in Murmansk. Operators received data such as the speed of movement of cargo, the number and duration of stops along the way.

The data received from the devices was recordedsmart contract using blockchain technologies. Similarly, information was transmitted about storage and transport operations for cargo from the Prirazlomnaya platform in the Pechora Sea. Blockchain ensured an inextricable connection between physical delivery and all accompanying processes, including document flow.

Surgutneftegaz and blockchain

Surgutneftegaz together with Russian Railways and OMKlaunched a pilot project on the use of blockchain. The technology is used to monitor the movement of cargo - metal pipes from the Vyksa Steel Works that is part of the OMK. The distributed registry solution marks all stages of the process, including shipment of pipes from the plant, their transportation, acceptance of goods and distribution, identification of defective items. If the marriage is revealed, the goods are sent back.

Then all data is transferred to the cloud. As soon as the batch of pipes is ready, the manufacturer notes its readiness for shipment. Involving trains Railways, the transport company signals that the goods are in transit. After delivery, detailed information about the process is sent to the cloud, as well as product certificates.

Technological solution includes SAP Leonardo andSAP Cloud Platform Blockchain, user interface - SAP Fiori. According to representatives of the project, the option on the blockchain is economically superior to other proposals.

Rosneft, Gazprom, Transneft and drones

Russia's largest oil and gas companiesuse unmanned aircraft manufactured by the Kalashnikov concern for monitoring pipeline systems. They were launched by Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Gazprom, LUKOIL, Tatneft and Transneft. The monitoring geography is extensive: Makhachkala, Surgut, Stavropol, Krasnodar, Saratov and Volgograd, as well as the May, Pravdinsk and Yugan fields.

UAVs are equipped with thermal imagers and a systemnavigation, which allows devices to estimate the location of the pipe and, in the case of displacement, send a team of technicians to the problem area. In addition, they successfully detect illegal tie-ins into the pipeline and damage to pipes that cause leaks. Every month, Kalashnikov drones check pipelines with a length of 9.5 thousand to 11.5 thousand km.

An example of a drone that is used to monitor pipelines

In addition to the mentioned UAVs in Russia applyunmanned systems ZALA-T. According to experts, the use of unmanned vehicles makes it possible to reduce the cost of carrying out maintenance work by about 85%.

Gazprom uses unmanned vehicles forsurveys of potentially oil-bearing areas. The company uses UAVs to measure the characteristics of magnetic fields in certain locations. If we compare the resource costs for such studies performed using traditional methods, the devices require approximately three to four times less—both time and money.

British Petroleum and the Internet of Things

BP actively uses IoT for monitoringconditions of their wells. Back in 2015, the company connected 650 oil production wells to the network. Each well has 30 sensors installed that measure many parameters, including pressure and temperature.

Then the platforms were connected to the cloudIoT service Predix from GE, which allows you to analyze information and not only monitor the current parameters of the well and the oil and gas producing platform as a whole, but also simulate events in the near future.

The Internet of Things is actively used by others.companies, including Russian. First of all, to monitor the areas and objects of increased danger, control the availability of personal protective equipment among personnel and a quick response in case of accidents. In this case, the IoT functionality is not much different from similar solutions in any other area - personnel clothing and equipment are equipped with UWB anchors that interact with the system using the LoRa network. As a result, the number of emergencies at enterprises is reduced - for example, the hitting of special equipment on people is prevented, and equipment and materials are less often damaged.

Saudi Aramco and Predictive Analytics

The largest oil company in the world in terms ofoil production and the size of oil reserves Saudi Aramco launched a project for the implementation of technological solutions in the process of oil and gas production. When walking around the plots, operators receive information about actions in the current location, including signals about problems that require a response now or will need to be resolved in the near future. Thus, the operators do not need to examine all the wells, it is enough to monitor only those warning information about which goes to the plate.

It is worth noting that this process is possible only by combining a number of technologies - the Internet of things, digital twins, modeling, and wireless networks.

Shell and Robots

Shell, one of the world's energy leaderssector, several years ago began using robots in its fields. The system is called Sensabot; it is a remotely controlled robot that can operate in locations that are dangerous to humans: for example, at high temperatures or gas pollution. Sensabot robots solve problems for up to six months without the need for service.

Operators connect to robot cameras tosee what is happening. All data is transmitted over a high-speed 4G wireless network. Now Shell plans to expand the functionality of robots so that they can be used not only in fields, but also in production facilities.

Chevron and audio / video analytics

Chevron uses an earlydetection of leaks from oil and gas pipelines. The basis of the development is the analysis of acoustic signals and video streams. The system, called the Catalyst Program, also includes such an important element as artificial intelligence with the ability to self-learn.

Analyzing the information coming from the pipelineCatalyst Computing Center detects small leaks threatening to turn into a major accident. Thanks to the early detection of problems, they can be eliminated much faster.

What does the industry digitalization and robotization?

The use of technological solutions in the workallows "digitized" companies from the oil and gas sector to significantly increase production rates. At the same time, the number of almost any types of emergency incidents (leaks, emissions, employee injuries) is reduced. The efficiency of the company's operating activities is also growing, which can be seen from the positive change in almost all key business indicators.

The benefits of intelligent technology

According to experts, large-scale implementationModern technologies in the oil and gas industry can increase the increase in global oil and gas up to about 30%. It is estimated that when working with new technologies and methods, you can increase the field development efficiency indicator by 5–7%, while at the same time reducing the cost of extracting oil from the field by up to 25%, including energy savings.

The main trend for the next few years -maximum exclusion of man from technological processes. Robotization will affect both individual units and industrial sites in general. For example, the study of potentially oil and gas regions or the process of drilling wells will be as automated as possible with the organization of remote control. Another important point is to increase control over the impact of the entire oil and gas industry on the environment. Human intervention and its impact on nature in the exploration of fields, extraction and refining of oil should be minimized through operational monitoring of the environmental situation, which is impossible without implementing comprehensive IoT solutions.

Modern solutions will be effective only whensubstantial modernization of not only technological, but also business processes of oil companies. The maximum effect can be provided by the transformation of the entire oil and gas industry on the basis of adjustments to the legislative and regulatory framework, the introduction of new standards for the use of IoT solutions and the control of technological processes. The option when each oil company will go through its own trial and error with partial digitalization of individual business processes is long and economically inefficient. Digitalization will provide an opportunity to consolidate the best practices on modern technologies for the extraction and processing of oil and gas, combine the efforts of companies to implement new technologies, prepare qualified personnel and increase the competitive advantages of Russian companies on the world market.