Big Data Benefits in Oil & Gas Industry Automation

In the Oil & Gas Industry, shifting prices mean shifting priorities. With oil at $100/barrel, exploration and production companies emphasize speed. At $50/barrel, the priority shifts to performance. That applies not only to every drop of oil but to every asset and every process.

The industry has been through this before. Upstream operators know they can realize a return on investment in technology that applies analytics, modelling, and optimization to their assets and processes in order to increase efficiencies and reduce costs. This allows them to operate a more effective, competitive business and better position themselves for profitability when prices rebound. Management today is embracing the potential of Big Data systems, which integrate information flow across a company’s myriad divisions, departments, and operations to improve decision-making, optimize resources, and ultimately increase margins.

Big Data Benefits

According to numerous case studies, technologies including asset management, energy management, and optimization have decreased lifecycle costs by 20 percent, increased asset life by 20 percent, and decreased energy consumption by 15 to 20 percent. Big Data systems take these concepts further by applying new information management technologies to help achieve near-term and long-term efficiencies. Big Data systems provide the capability to collect, index, and analyze data quickly and display it on executive dashboards.

But implementing Big Data solutions can be difficult, particularly when the information that is needed must be extracted from countless remote meters, sensors, and SCADA systems. This highly complex effort can require considerable cost, time, and engineering expertise. A typical SCADA system uses an architecture that is essentially a wide area network adaptation of ISA95.

The wireless sensor networks interface with PLC controllers, flow computers, or remote terminal units (RTUs) via dedicated base units. The former devices reside on wide area SCADA networks. Well field SCADA systems can include hundreds or even thousands of PLC controllers, flow computers, and RTUs. Further complicating matters is that many upstream operations are attempting to merge information from multiple SCADA systems due to acquisitions. In many cases, the systems are from different suppliers and use different communications protocols, hardware, and software at every level.

The massive amount of information that a SCADA system can collect from flow computers and RTUs in a production well field is not a problem. For example, a metering application supports multiple protocols to enable communications between Big Data applications and devices at any level of a SCADA network. “Oil & Gas users benefit from the same network and operations monitoring, security monitoring, and analytics that were once reserved for enterprise-level data centers. Big Data systems enable upstream Oil & Gas operations to more effectively monitor production, save energy, conserve resources, control and protect infrastructure, reduce asset downtime, and accelerate emergency responses. Oil and Gas companies can leverage Big Data to coordinate resources across the supply chain in one effective process. Intelligent data aggregation will accelerate the acceptance of Big Data in operations that currently use SCADA systems.

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