Oil’s technology lead

Emerson VP—oil and gas provides technology lead for other industries to follow. One Gulf of Mexico field has 20,000 connected instruments. Poster child Shell Brunei’s ‘smart wireless’ goes global.

Speaking at Emerson Process Management’s (EPM) GUEX industry forum late last year, Larry Irving observed that some 43% of its business comes from oil and gas. Contrary to a widely held belief, notably within the ‘digital energy’ community, Irving said that oil and gas often ‘leads the way’ in technology implementation and in delivering best practices for other industries to follow.

Irving opined that, in the face of larger and more complex projects, the trend across the industry is the use of main automation contractors (MACs). MAC engagement is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a successful project. In larger projects, extreme instrumentation counts stress both design and deployment. One Gulf of Mexico digital oilfield included 20,000 instruments and some 60,000 connections.

Enter EPM’s ‘characterization modules’ (Charms), electronic marshalling units that offer a wide range of wired and wireless connectivity. In the above deployment, Charms reduced connection requirements by 65% to a mere 38,000. Electronic marshalling also leverages pre-designed, pre-tested, off-the-shelf kit instead of the traditional custom cabinets. I/O count can grow substantially during a project. Here the flexibility gained from electronic marshalling saved one global engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) service provider some $375,000 in re-engineering and scheduling delay costs, as well as $100,000 in cabinet modification.

At the GUEX, Emerson was also showing of its ‘iOps’ center, a dual-use acronym that can be taken both as an ‘integrated’ or ‘intelligent’ operations center. iOps offers multiple screens, video conferencing and collaboration in support of activities from predictive maintenance to process safety. Three iOps use cases were on show at the GUEX—remote condition monitoring, wireless augmented safety systems and electronic trading.

One enthusiastic deployer of wireless iOps is Yong Chin Hieng, head of control and automation at Brunei Shell Petroleum. Hieng said, ‘We are stepping up wireless adoption following successful trials and Shell’s global smart wireless program. The trials began five years ago at Seria and at the Rasau production station. Deployment is now being extended to the monitoring of onshore and offshore oil and gas wells.’ Emerson partner Aisha Automation undertook the work under a global Shell-Emerson enterprise framework agreement. Emerson reports that to date, over a billion total hours of smart wireless operations have been clocked across 10,000 systems in more than 120 countries. GUEX also heard from ExxonMobil’s Sandy Vasser.

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