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Optimizing Remote Tank Monitoring Solutions for Industrial Reliability

remote tank monitoring

The Permian Basin in the southwest United States contains a vast oilfield where we drill into rock laid down over 250 million years ago. As part of the Permian geologic period, it's a reality of Deep Time. And yet, in order to keep our economy running, we have to do more than imaginable to control the riches these and other rocks keep buried within. We must safely drill into and extract, while safely optimizing and monitoring production.

Your remote oil fields and well pads are vital to your business and are performing dangerous tasks every day. Ensuring the system keeps running means paying attention to an incredible number of moving parts. No one person or team can be everywhere at once. And that's where remote tank monitoring solutions come in.

Monitoring solutions are the best way to make sure that you maintain the flow, pressure, and temperatures you need to keep running efficiently, effectively, and safely.

By installing remote tank monitoring solutions at your oil and gas sites, you'll have up-to-the-second control over all your operations. And, that's a good use of time.

What Remote Tank Monitoring Protects

According to the EIA, the costs of building onshore wells are actually going down. However, in other considerations, according to the EIA, each well costs between $4.9 and $8.1 million dollars with prices increasing for labor, accessibility, and difficulty of construction and maintenance.

If you have a remote well in a hard-to-reach field, you know you're on the expensive end of that spectrum. And, even if costs are going down, they aren't going down that much.

So, the first thing remote monitoring protects will be your investment. How does it do that? By making sure everything is running the way it should be without major equipment and process breakdowns.

Tank Level Monitoring

Tank level monitoring is always crucial. You obviously don't want a tank to get to full but in many upstream operations, you need a certain level of pressure to keep oil and gas flowing. This can also get complicated in a well pad, where you have multiple drills that are either filling up together or rotating depending on tank level, position, and other factors.

It's a delicate balance and one that you have programmed, of course. But again, things don't always go exactly as planned.

Having a monitoring system that lets you know before tank levels get out of order could save your entire drilling operation.

All Well Pad Operations

In 2012, just 20% of vertical operations used well pads. Now that number is close to 75%. That's a huge leap. Pad drilling makes sense. If multiple drills can be used in the same space, you save money in terms of buying and clearing land, as well as other cost savings. But it also makes things more complicated.

All of your drills have to work in harmony, whether at roughly the same time or sequentially. If anything starts to go haywire, you aren't just down a drill. You're down many drills with a big problem at a very valuable piece of land.

Pumping Operations

Drills are in operation all day and all night, slowly pumping into the earth. They don't get a break - unless they break. When that happens, a very balanced system can get out of line. You have to make sure every part of the pumpjack is working, which means monitoring non-electric, analog parts. That's not always easy. But it can be done.

Safety Issues

Is there too much pressure? Too little? Is your operation overheating? Is there sand backflow? Any of these things can ruin equipment, cause fires or explosions, or otherwise lead to dangerous conditions. You'll want to be aware of when anything like this happens and have a plan in place to fix it as quickly as possible.

Pipeline Management

As your upstream operation moves to midstream, you have to make sure that you have the pressure you need to move oil and gas into pipelines. You need multiple electrical and mechanical parts functioning optimally to separate the two. You have to make sure everything is moving seamlessly from the well to the refinery, and then into our economy.

Monitoring is complicated. But the way it can work for you is pretty simple.

Major Benefits of Optimizing Remote Tank Monitoring Solutions

So, now we've discussed your operations that must be monitored. But what's the big picture or why you need remote tank monitoring solutions for industrial reliability?

There are 3 key components:

  • Reporting alarms. If something went wrong, an alarm will be reported. When something is going wrong, there's an alert reported to you. If something is about to go disastrously wrong, you'll know in time to prevent the breakdown. The system will pick up on all of this, and report it to the master unit (more on this below). You'll know virtually and instantly the status of your equipment.
  • Trend reporting. The right monitoring system offers intelligent trend reporting. It can identify when trends are pointing in the wrong direction, like an increase in steam, a rise in temperature, or a disturbing viscosity. The system analyzes this and various related data from across your site and reports this data so you can evaluate and optimize your assets.
  • Alarm maintenance and management. So, an alarm goes off. That's just the start. The master station system then prioritizes the alarm and can send out a message to the relevant party right away, whether that's an engineer or a first responder. It can also instantly take pre-programmed action, to loosen or tighten valves, slow down operations, or even shut something down before a disaster occurs.

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes. And a remote tank monitoring system gives you that power.

The Right Equipment for An Important Job

As we said above, all alerts are reported to a central master station and is reported on a single computer screen. Every proper SCADA system is comprised of two main components.

1. Remote Telemetry Units. Dozens or hundreds of discrete and analog sensors that are programmed to monitor everything from the temperature of your tanks and equipment to if someone left a door open.

2. Alarm master unit. The brains of the operation. This is the device that gets information and relays it to the right people or takes pre-programmed action. It receives data and can search for more data. It prioritizes information, and it manages problems proactively.

Of course, this is complex. Each component part has to be programmed to do its job, and that means having a full understanding of everything that needs to go right but can easily go wrong. It's a big job, which is why it is great to have a partner who knows how to use SCADA equipment at remote oil and gas wells.

This partner can provide the best equipment, smart and rugged enough to survive tough conditions. A strong partner will help set up your system, train you on how to use it, and be there for troubleshooting. You want someone who has already been where you need to go, and who can save you money on remote monitoring solutions.

This can't wait. Oil has been in the ground for millions of years but it's needed now. And, that means having equipment that works productively, while avoiding costly breakdowns.

A million years here and there isn't as critical as the urgency of your job and industrial reliability of your operation. Remote tank monitoring solutions make every minute count.

DPS Telecom has the experience and expertise to help companies monitor what matters most - including remote tanks, well pads, pumping stations, and pipelines. Our technicians can work with you to install effective remote monitoring systems with easy-to-use interfaces for more automatic responses. Reach out and get a quote today!

Image courtesy Shutterstock

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