For those in the oil or natural gas industry, you understand the moving parts of extraction. From an outside perspective, the process may appear simple but if you’re in the industry, you know it’s massively complex.
Gas wells are responsible for the consistent extraction of different types of oil and natural gas to be separated and distributed. They are the backbone of the industry, operating in all conditions to start the process that keeps our modern society running.
The complexity of gas wells involves maintaining countless pieces of equipment and adhering to a host of related safety, regulatory, and environmental standards, all while providing a positive ROI. This means that every part has to work well, and be monitored, to avoid accidents or breakdowns—which cost money—and affect every aspect of your operation.
Watching gas wells requires an extensive remote monitoring system for oil and gas that can stand up to the conditions and tame the vastness.
A gas well monitoring system can give you a real-time look at everything happening in your fields and can keep those pumps moving continuously, ensuring the effective management and monitoring of your gas well operation.
The ROI of an Effective Gas Well Monitoring System
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the total cost of a well is anywhere from $4.9 to $8.3 million. Now, that takes into account auxiliary costs such as land acquisition and capitalized drilling, but those are real costs. That’s money that is lost if something goes wrong.
A fire, an explosion, a back-up, a pressurized event, even just a normal breakdown can shut down the process.
Obviously, that’s bad for business. For even with the huge amount of money involved, there are surprisingly tight margins. In recent years, the natural gas break-even point was $2.50-$3.0/MMBtu but that assumes normal production. The higher your costs, which include new wells and repairing ones that break, the higher the break-even point.
So, clearly, you have a vested interest in keeping costs low. That means more than simple preventative maintenance. It means comprehensive monitoring to make sure things don’t go wrong.
Let’s take a look at everything that can and should be monitored.
What a Monitoring System Can Protect
When looking at a gas well monitoring system, the most important thing is safety. Anyone who has ever stepped onto an oil field knows that there is an extensive checklist of best practices and safety techniques that must be honored. The same should happen for your equipment.
Safety protects people. It protects your equipment. And it protects your investment. To maintain safety, you need to monitor a lot of discrete events in some broad categories.
Each well is made up of hundreds of parts, all of which work in concert. These all have to be working, and they must be working together. Some of the equipment you can monitor includes:
- Flare stacks
- Separation tanks
- Return lines
This is one of the most important areas to monitor. You want to monitor your wells for fire and for other causes of extensive heat. These can both be catastrophic for your operations. With the right monitoring system, you’ll have devices—known as sensors—attached to your temperature-sensitive equipment, including:
When temps start going up, you’ll know immediately. You can even pre-program for important safety measures.
Each well also has a lot of safety monitoring processes that you want to keep an eye on. Remote Telemetry Unit (RTU) RTUs with the necessary attached sensors alert you if things are going wrong, and can even trigger automatic shutdowns if needed. This includes processes such as spark protection, air gap, sand back-flow monitors, pressure valves, and other regulators.
Important safety concerns related to equipment monitoring include mechanical, electrical, generator, and battery power. This will be addressed when establishing your system, which we’ll get into below. First, we’ll cover a bit about environmental regulatory standards.
Environmental Regulatory Standards
It’s crucial for oil and gas companies to meet environmental standards, whether those increase or decrease. Your gas well monitoring system can make sure that you are exceeding standards, by measuring events such as
- Amount of gas through flare stacks
- Carbon redirection/reincluded/recaptured
- Heat recapture
You don’t want to wait for an inspection to know that you aren’t meeting regulations. Monitoring your environmental requirements prevents fines and keeps your margins broader.
Establishing an Effective Monitoring System
We talked above about Remote Telemetry Units or RTUs. These are the eyes and ears of your monitoring system and can be placed by the dozens on every well and piece of equipment, keeping an eye on events that will trigger an alarm.
These events can be as simple as low battery somewhere, as dangerous as a build-up of pressure, and as immediate as a fire. Because of these vital concerns, it’s important to work with a provider that helps you establish what is mission-critical and important. You should receive proper training and field support related to your specific needs.
How to Manage Gas Well Monitoring
An effective monitoring system for your gas wells includes a variety of RTU types, attached sensors, as well as a central viewing station known as a master station for receiving central alerts to management.
RTUs help with the regulation and optimization of well pad operations in widespread fields by not only monitoring but remotely controlling the conditions of remote equipment. RTUs send a signal to a master station, alerting that something might need to be taken care of. Then the master station sends a message to management, which could be you. As a manager or operator, you can program this system to automatically address or fix the problem.
The crucial thing is to make sure your system is set up correctly and is able to take into account every single event. That means working with a partner who understands the oil and gas industry, who has the ability to meet your needs, and who has the experience to set up your system right. You don’t need any guessing games.
Gas wells are unassuming. They quietly go about their work. In order to keep them operating successfully, you need to implement a gas well monitoring system that does its job, every time.
When you need to know how to best manage a remote controlled monitoring system that will give you visibility over your operations, help maintain safety and regulations, all while producing a great ROI, you may require help. By working with DPS, we can ensure a resilient and reliable monitoring system that will keep those pumps moving, around the clock.
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!
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