The merits of wireless networks

Louise Smyth

The oil and gas sector generates billions worldwide annually, and this growth is showing no sign of seizing up anytime soon. New global players have also come to the fore in recent years, with the likes of China and Russia increasing their production levels to remain on par with competing nations across the globe.

However, with the ever-changing volatility in oil prices, operators realise the need to become more agile and innovative in how they prepare for inevitable market shifts. Consequently, their focus has turned to finding the best opportunities to ways in which they can optimise production efficiency while minimising expenses.

If operators are to achieve the operational gains that they are craving, they must have a fully integrated view of the oil field. They need to understand all aspects of the assets and personnel operating within it – and this demands a communications network that can provide ultra-reliable, real-time access to data and analytics.

Oil and gas - An evolving industry

Due to its continuous expansion, the oil and gas sector is helping to create thousands of jobs and fulfil requirements worldwide. Despite this, operators are having to stay afloat and prepare for inevitable market shifts – including the shift to onshore rigging.

Whilst offshore drilling has more significant levels of productivity and tends to last for a longer sustained period, onshore oil drilling now encompasses 70% of the worldwide oil production. The amount of precious natural resources on offer is plentiful for a host of countries globally, and more are seeking to pursue onshore options as opposed to offshore ones.

Furthermore, offshore drilling has typically proven to be a challenge when trying to ensure a stable work surface is in place to hold the equipment and facilities when out at sea. It also removes the need for workers to remain on the rig for potentially lengthy periods.

Nevertheless, onshore rigging also presents its challenges due to oil exploration and extraction in the land, meaning several other options are also being considered.

If oil and gas operators are to thrive in these evolving market conditions, they must be able to achieve new levels of operational integration and performance. Coupled with this is the need for them to minimise their costs, all whilst ensuring environmental regulations are met. To stay ahead of the curve, it’s critical that these operators fully embrace the digital technologies at their disposal.

Challenging terrain helped by wireless networks

When drilling down to the earth for natural elements, operators must have the most extensive system in place to ensure that safety and efficiency are met seamlessly.

For onshore drilling, downhole pumps used to lower bottom hole pressure and improve well production rates are usually spread across hundreds to thousands of square miles and therefore operators must have the ability to control the dispersed pumps at any time, anywhere, otherwise, it could have repercussions on their day-to-day operations. Connecting thousands of wells across a vast landscape can prove a geographical difficulty for operators.

Onshore sites can often expand across a vast environment, and operators must be able to connect with all areas of the site to maximise efficiency. It is fundamental for the operators to communicate effectively with all members of their team to keep oil and gas personnel safe when out at work. This can often prove a challenge for enterprises looking to connect across a large amount of ground. That is why having a wireless network infrastructure in place that keeps mission-critical applications running without interference, is imperative.

If a problem arises with a wellhead across an operator’s oilfield, it could prevent the whole site from functioning at full capacity and, therefore, requires time and labour being taken to solve the problem.

Wireless networks in fracking

Oil and gas operators globally have begun to realise the advantages of fracking to release the gas and oil in the earth and help keep up with the current gas demands. In the USA, the production of oil and gas has seen significant growth, with fracking providing a large increase in the number of jobs and reducing energy prices.

Using the fracking process as opposed to burning fossil fuels will help lower air pollution and is a key opportunity for legacy oil and gas wells to have the ability to attain a state of economic viability. But interference can be a problem for communications across condensed and busy sites, with equipment packed in just a few acres.

To overcome this, operators demand a wireless network that can overcome this interface and signal blockages to avoid knock-on effects in network performance. Furthermore, this network must be able to provide ultra-reliable real-time access to data and analytics from assets running in the field, enabling operators to optimise efficiencies and yield without fail.

Rajant’s secure and resilient Kinetic Mesh can provide fully mobile, mission-critical data, video and voice communications for oil and gas enterprises, even in rugged and remote environments. The multi-band, multi-radio network optimally overcomes interference in dense fracking operations, unleashing newfound economic viability for legacy oil and gas wells. Furthermore, the technology enables downhole pump control from a central command centre by providing connectivity over hundreds to thousands of square miles to improve well production rates.

The firm’s proven military and mining applications can withstand the harshest oilfield climate conditions with environmentally sealed and ruggedised nodes known as BreadCrumbs running on its InstaMesh software. With no single point of failure and self-healing capabilities, this technology can ensure the uptime of mission-critical applications running across expansive oil and gas operations. The InstaMesh networking protocol can also dynamically route communications via the next-best available path, which is crucial for dense fracking operations and oil drilling – ensuring operators don’t miss a step.

Most importantly, Rajant’s wireless network provides real-time operational integration with mobile-enabled capabilities that ensure every aspect of operators’ oil and gas activities, no matter where they occur, can be monitored, managed and continually optimised for maximum output.

This enables operators to remotely access real-time performance data of hundreds of wellheads across an expansive oilfield, enabling them to take full control of production performance and their operations – allowing them to better position themselves to succeed in both market highs and lows.

With the right wireless network in place, operators have the tools at their disposal to stay ahead of the times – enabling them to optimise upstream and their processes for onshore oil and gas. As a result, operators can achieve new levels of operational integration, empowering them to strive, even in times of uncertainty.

Al Rivero is with Rajant

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