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Upstream oil and gas industry uses sensors and servers to boost productivity

Data analytics can increase oil well production by up to 30%, according to Intel. The chip giant sees low oil prices as an opportunity to help energy companies manage their expenses and increase productivity at a time when every dollar counts in the oil industry. The company is combining its internet of things technologies and services to support digital oilfield services.

The 30% production increase comes from optimizing plunger-lift cycles. Plungers are used in oilfields the same way we use them in our homes – they clear clogged pipes. Plunger-lift technology removes accumulated liquids that can impede natural gas production. Connected sensors combined with intelligent gateways can report on liquid accumulation twice a minute, enabling producers to optimize their plunger-lift cycles and thereby boost production.

Like many industrial IoT applications, upstream oil and gas deployments often rely on gateways, sensors and actuators. Sensors read relevant data, like temperature, flow rate, or pressure, and actuators trigger a response to that data. Gateways at the well site can connect sensors to wireless networks, and they also connect to the smartphones, tablets and laptops of oilfield engineers.

Gateways are also used in the cloud or data center to integrate third-party data that could impact optimal production levels. This could include oil prices, weather forecasts, or the production levels of other wells. Data center gateways can also normalize data sets that come from different sources and sensors and may use different protocols.

A recent Accenture survey on the upstream oil and gas industry found that 91% if oil producers who are currently using digital technologies believe they are adding value. Companies said the number one impact has been increased employee productivity and engagement.

At this year’s Enterprise IoT Summmit, analyst Joe Madden of Mobile Experts moderated a panel on IoT technology in the upstream oil and gas industry. Madden was joined by Ingenu CMO Landon Garner and by Dave Milam, chief product officer at WellAware.

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