Is wireless keeping pace with oil, gas production?

Author:Steele, Dan
 
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The oil and gas industry is changing as production demands of 21st century technology increases at an extraordinary pace. The industry faces challenges going forward, including remote monitoring of wellheads and storage tanks, 24-hour production demands and the high cost to manage remote sites in terms of time and resources.

Traditionally, companies sought multiple solutions to address these challenges--ad-hoc communication networks or combinations of networks to suit production and monitoring applications.

But as wireless communications grew in popularity and the machine-to-machine (M2M) and industrial Internet of things (IoT) industry evolved, wireless communications technology began to offer comprehensive solutions that deliver critical access to data in the field, both local and remote.

Oil and gas formations and remote locations go hand-in-hand. Wellheads and pipe lines are often found in isolated and inaccessible areas such as the desert, high plains, mountainous areas with many trees, under arctic tundra or offshore. It can be difficult (or impossible) to find road access for many of these places, which creates a big challenge for maintenance teams and production operations centers.

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While technology enables production in these locations without the need for people in the field, there are going to be instances in which wellheads or pipelines require repairs due to buckling, leakage or other broken parts. This adds another interesting challenge to oil and gas environment because unless an organization is aware of problems in the field, issues cannot be mitigated.

When technologies are not operating at the highest capacity due to broken parts, production suffers. This is why wireless M2M connectivity has become such a critical component for the industry, and without on-site personnel, it can be expensive and time-consuming to visit a site. To ensure these issues are overcome while continuing to meet high production demands, comprehensive yet flexible communications are required. What's needed is high bandwidth, two-way connectivity that:

* Enables remote monitoring, and control of wellheads and pipelines, as well as fast SCADA updates

* Makes secure connections to operation centers--virtual local area networks (VLANs) and radius servers

* Allows maintenance teams to connect with voice and data communications in real time--WiFi in the field for service tech's and pumpers.

Fortunately for the industry, advanced...

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