Anyone who has ever walked on an oil or gas field in Oklahoma or North Dakota knows that there are extremes at play. Baking heat and searing wind can quickly be replaced by extreme cold and frigid, thick snowfalls.
You may also deal with extreme remoteness - the hundreds and thousands of fields spread out over the country are in hard-to-reach and often wildly inhospitable areas.
And yet, those are the lifeblood of our economy, consistently pumping out oil and gas, automatically separating and filtering them, and getting them prepared for the long road down highways and through pipelines toward refinement.
"Consistently" is the hope. These remote sites are under extreme pressures and can be prone to mechanical and other equipment failures. That's why - more and more - extraction companies are turning to oil and gas monitoring equipment for their remote sites.
Oil and gas monitoring equipment help you to prevent equipment failures throughout your system by providing real-time updates on conditions and alarms that go off when something goes wrong.
Extreme conditions need smart, simple, durable solutions. Oil and gas monitoring equipment for your remote sites makes them all efficiently manageable.
The economics of the oil and gas industry seems like another extreme to outsiders, but insiders know that while the big picture is enormous, the component parts operate on tight margins.
Let's take a gas compression station that condenses gas to make it move down a pipeline more easily.
The cost of a station, in 2017, averaged over $900 million. That's a huge capital investment.
But the truth is that you don't just build a "compression station," you build and assemble the thousands of parts that make up a compression station.
The compressor unit, the mufflers, the filters, the gas cooling unit, the turbines, centrifugal compressors: all of these are powerful - yet delicate pieces of equipment - which have to work exactly right, or else the almost-billion-dollar plant is ineffective and could be shut down for repairs.
It's not just a compressor station. An oil rig in one of those remote sites can easily cost $20 million on the low end, for a few derricks and a filter station in some dusty field. And to be competitive, you have to have hundreds of them at least. Larger rigs can move toward the hundreds of millions, and they are all vulnerable. They are vulnerable to:
Large rigs can be very costly, and that's trouble in this industry. The Brent Crude price of a barrel determines profitability, and that can change all the time. If the Brent Crude price is, say, $75 a barrel, you want your cost per barrel to be considerably lower.
Damage makes your costs go up. Breakdowns make your costs go up. A broken part in a remote field can impact your economics considerably.
The price of oil and gas goes up and down. However, using the best oil and gas monitoring equipment can help keep your costs consistently lower so you can weather a volatile market.
We probably don't need to tell you everything that can go wrong at your rigs, your refineries, your compression stations, and more. Everything from pump malfunctions and compressor leaks to unstable tank levels and backflow can make a system inoperable.
With most of these, though, there are signs in advance. Slight deviations are the harbinger of larger problems. The challenge is monitoring them all. That's where this equipment comes in.
These are "remote devices that monitor and report events occurring at a remote site." These discrete events are programmed by you and monitored by the units. An event can include:
Basically, anything that can go right or wrong at a remote site can be monitored. If a pump starts slowing down, if the pressure gets too high or low in a pipeline, if a valve starts malfunctioning, you want to know. RTUs help you know what is going on everywhere in your system.
But where does this information go? It goes to a central SNMP Manager or Master Station which offers a central monitoring area for your operation. It's the brain in the central nervous system. It receives all your alarms, analyzes them, and prioritizes them.
If programmed correctly, it will send alarms to the relevant parties automatically. If something is going wrong at Substation X, located just outside Nowheresville, you can send technicians out there to fix it before it becomes a serious issue.
Just as importantly, it won't send you out to fix small issues that don't require attention.
It can evaluate the alarms sent to it throughout your system so that you aren't wasting valuable windshield time sending teams out to fix things that can be handled later, or even handled automatically.
It is extremely important to get the right master station that can serve as a central monitor for all your equipment, even those based on different protocols. You don't want to orphan monitoring equipment in any of your stations. The right tools can connect your entire system.
All of this put together creates a seamless whole, which is being adopted by major oil and gas companies throughout the world. That's because it makes sense to use, but only if it is done correctly. Like with your equipment, the right component parts and the right people make all the difference.
Oftentimes, when talking about remote monitoring, one of the main obstacles is cost. And that's fair - you aren't talking about setting up one camera and being done with it. There are legitimate costs to all the equipment we talked about above.
There are ways to manage these costs though. The best way is to use your equipment in the right way. That's why you should partner with a company that offers:
If you have that, the costs make more sense. After all, you are on a surprisingly tight margin. Cost overruns due to damage can put a huge kink in your bottom line.
For such a vast industry, there are a million little things that can go wrong and cause systemic damage. Oil and gas monitoring of your remote sites can help prevent that from happening. With the right equipment and the right partner, you can continue to enjoy extreme success.
DPS Telecom has the experience and expertise to help companies monitor what matters most - including their costs. Our technicians can work with you to install RTUs with easy-to-use interfaces for more automatic responses. Reach out and get a quote today!
Image courtesy Shutterstock
You need to see DPS gear in action. Get a live demo with our engineers.
Check out our White Paper Series!
A complete library of helpful advice and survival guides for every aspect of system monitoring and control.
Have a specific question? Ask our team of expert engineers and get a specific answer!
Sign up for the next DPS Factory Training!
Whether you're new to our equipment or you've used it for years, DPS factory training is the best way to get more from your monitoring.Reserve Your Seat Today