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Three oil and gas IoT case studies

Oil firms are embracing internet of things (IoT) technology and solutions in a move to improve productivity and face some of the industry’s challenges


Oil firm Shell is taking advantage of an internet of things (IoT) connectivity solution to improve the company’s monitoring capabilities in its operations in Nigeria.

Last year, U.S. IoT connectivity provider Ingenu and Croatian producer of industrial electronics and power electronics devices Koncar Inem delivered an IoT connectivity solution to provide digital oilfield capabilities to the Shell Nigeria pipeline facility.

The Digital Oilfield (DOF) solution provides pipeline surveillance and wellhead monitoring capabilities to remote infrastructure in the Niger Delta.

The DOF solution combines IT automation and instrumentation technologies to provide a support platform to use remote field data while optimizing operational efficiencies. This integrated technology platform offers faster analysis and more efficient data management to provide insight into field processes, resulting in safe and efficient oilfield operation, Ingenu and Koncar Inem said.

In addition to Ingenu’s Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) network technology, Shell evaluated communications solutions including satellite, PI to SMS, and GPRS, which required significant infrastructure investment for towers, radios, data communications equipment, battery banks, logistics and installation.

Utilizing end-point devices enabled with RPMA, Koncar provided Shell Nigeria with a collection of field data pertaining to pipeline pressure, temperature, and flow. The Koncar Remote Terminal Units and wireless pressure and temperature transmitters were installed in flow stations, manifolds, and wellheads to provide connection from the field to the back office, with the aim of ensuring reliable information transmission.

Additionally, many of the oil wells being exploited by Shell are located in challenging areas, trapped thousands of meters underground. To help the tricky operations run more efficiently, Shell turned to Smart Field technology. It installed thousands of sensors on its equipment, such as valves and pumps. The sensors capture data on temperature, pressure, and other measurements, and sends it out to control centers back on land. Here, engineers read the measurements and monitor production in real time so they can optimize each individual process.

“Smart Fields is about integrating people, processes and technology,” said Joseph Low, a senior engineer based at Shell’s Kuala Lumpur center. “You can make decisions or solve problems in a day whereas before they might have taken a week and have slowed production down.”

Smart Fields is more than just monitoring and sending information. It’s an entire package of integrated solutions that includes high-quality videoconferencing, smart wells, reservoir surveillance, and fiber optics for real-time monitoring. It connects the correct data with the correct person so that problems can be addressed in a timely manner.

The technology has enabled projects to increase production, reduce downtime and improve the overall recovery of oil and gas while reducing costs and minimizing safety risks, according to Shell.

Rockwell Automation

In another IoT case study, Rockwell Automation is tackling the complexities of the oil industry with a solution that helps monitor every step of the petroleum supply chain.

“What we’re talking about is delivering a degree of collaboration and visibility unheard of in the oil and gas industry,” said Doug Weber, business manager, remote application monitoring for Rockwell Automation. “With sensors, software and the cloud, these disparate assets can become part of a Connected Enterprise, powered at its core by a rich flow of data.”

Rockwell is using Microsoft’s IoT services to provide support for its products in the field.  The company is using a combination of cloud-based solutions, software, sensors and devices to predict equipment failures, track performance in real time, and help refine designs and processes to prevent future failures. Preventing those failures means savings millions of dollars.

A single pump failing in an offshore rig can halt operations and cost $100,000­ to $300,000 a day in lost production, according to Rockwell. To avoid those loses, Rockwell outfitted its pump’s electrical variable speed drives to Microsoft’s Azure cloud so they could be monitored in real time, providing readings for pressure, temperature, flow rates, and other measurements to engineers.

Rockwell is also working to make gas pumps smart by installing cloud gateway appliances at each station. These pieces of equipment collect data and securely send it to a cloud platform. That information is put in a dashboard that can be easily viewed on a PC, Android, Windows Phones or iPhones.

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