A supervising engineer checks the level of gas in the well beneath the seabed. He then monitors all the equipment on the oil rig to ensure everything is working fine. He inspects the drills and then moves on to inspecting the pipeline that carries natural gas to the shore. But he is hundreds of kilometers away as he completes his tasks—nowhere close to the oil rig in the middle of the sea.
Enabling remote connectivity with limited or no human intervention is what machine-to-machine (M2M) technology is now helping industries achieve.
M2M technology enables wired or wireless communication between machines and devices, allowing them to exchange and process data quickly and effectively. The technology is being used extensively across sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, retail and transport. However, it is industries such as mining and particularly
oil and gas that will be seen as major drivers in the growth of M2M technology. In fact, an industry report indicates that the installed base of active oil and gas M2M devices will touch 435,000 units by 2016.
Hostile terrains, inaccessible regions, and disruptive weather conditions are the typical challenges faced by companies in the oil and gas business—providing apt conditions for the deployment of M2M solutions. As resource efficiency becomes increasingly critical every day, M2M is proving to be a versatile solution in helping oil and gas players control their assets through automation.
Using M2M technology enables oil and gas companies to intelligently monitor and manage their field equipment and processes, constantly, from a central location—ensuring lower maintenance costs and reduced downtime and energy consumption. It also helps organizations gather real-time data that can be analyzed instantly for agile decision making. Furthermore, constant monitoring can prevent equipment failure, greatly enhancing worker safety and health.
Innovative wireless M2M solutions can be deployed across various processes in the oil and gas sector. Live M2M data—from sensors, smart drills and 3D images and monitoring—is now being used by rigs, along with superior oil recovery methods, to increase efficiency of oil production. These techniques can be used to assess oil reservoirs and fluid movement in even the most hostile environments.
M2M technology is also seeing extensive adoption in long distance remote site asset monitoring. This includes wireless monitoring of field equipment, gas wells, drills, and of pipelines transporting crude oil and natural gas. Automated wireless M2M monitoring helps detect hazards like gas leaks and consequently helps avoid the tremendous risk to human lives and potential environmental disasters.
How else do you think M2M technology could impact the oil and gas industry? Please leave your comments in the section below.