Advanced Technologies in Oil & Gas Industry
Mukund Patil
Head - Process and Factory Automation, India
B & R Industrial Automation Pvt Ltd

Though Oil & Gas Industry is adapting Advanced Automation for improving business efficiencies to cater today's budding energy needs, there are numerous challenges ahead as well in embracing new technologies looking at the changing dynamics of the industry in future. The article highlights the challenges and benefits of technology adaption in the current scenario and at the future looking at the continuous changing dynamics of the industry.

With growing population and an increase in the per capita energy consumption , the demand for Oil and Gas (O & G) is rising. To keep up with these growing demands, O & G companies are increasingly adopting advanced automation to achieve significant business benefits in terms of operational efficiency, increased productivity, cost reduction and profitability.

Challenges for the Future
The most pressing challenges arise from the conflict between increasing demand and shrinking reser ves. Mastering this balancing act calls for increased investment in more efficient extraction and handling technology, such as Gas to Power, so that decommissioned oil and gas fields can be reopened to utilise the remaining resources. The same goes for underutilised resources, including fields that were not previously economical to exploit such as oil sand, fractionation and deep water drilling. The supply-demand conflict also increases the importance of storage, liquefaction of natural gas (LNG) and long-distance transport routes (e.g. oil depots, LNG plants and extended pipelines).

Intensifying environmental regulations is also becoming an increasingly important factor. In addition, challenges such as skilled labor is forcing the industry to use more automation, predictive and secure remote maintenance, digitally connected infrastructure and many other technology solutions.

From an India perspective, India is a cost sensitive market and it is a perception that latest automation solutions are expensive and need immense investments. Lack of clarity regarding investments is the biggest challenge faced by Indian industry.

Technologies as a Driver
Technologies help industry to maximise their return on investment (ROI). Today, with advancement of technologies, it is possible to overcome various challenges, which was not the case a couple of years back. These are extremely versatile and ideally aid daily operations involved in this industry. While implementing these technologies in greenfield plant, it needs high investment, planning, technology intensive products, software and necessary expertise for deployment.

In contrast, a brownfield plant is not equipped with latest technologies and might even be decades old. Both greenfield and brownfield plants with automation and digitisation strategies can leverage these technology advancements.

Centralised acquisition of operating and process data is much easier thanks to advanced automation solutions.

To reduce costs plant owner can look at advancements such as digital twin and virtualisation. This would help drastically reduce cost of installation and commissioning. A digital model of the entire plant would be available even before the plant installation begins. This can be coupled with various automation solutions to check the feasibility of a plant. This can be done even before ordering the automation systems right down to I/O's and sensors. The digital model also helps in providing performance of the assets over time. IIoT solutions help brownfield plants to retrofit legacy and digitally isolated equipment and to create an IIoT 'green patch' in a brownfield plant without any changes to existing hardware and software. In this scenario, edge architectures is a perfect fit for transferring data from field to the cloud securely and building smarter plants. An end-to-end connectivity helps integrate the IT systems of the plant with the process, providing the management with a holistic view of operations. These are some of the many opportunities, which management can explore in such a process industry. However, understanding these new technologies, their benefits, and the challenges they face, are essential in entirely adopting them in everyday operations in industry. With the Industrial IoT implementation and digitisation, the need of connectivity has resulted in increased efficiency through big data analytics, and the ability to automate highly-sensitive tasks and with this, cyber security is a major area of investment for the O & G industry.

Benefits of Advanced Technologies
The O & G industry has started the move toward digitisation with more sensors collecting data from rigs around the world, but there are still areas O & G companies can improve within an increasingly diverse market. There is a clear incentive for O & G companies to equip their facilities with advanced automation technologies. The daily operations involved in this industry, as pipe handling and assembly for drilling are complex and high -risk operations for humans. Fully automatic operations require no human intervention, takes people away from the drill floor, and therefore reduces the probability of accidents. There is also efficiency and cost saving benefits to consider.

Unplanned downtime is another concern in the O & G industry. It not only costs time and money, but it also have a ripple effect in delaying production, time to market, and more. Predictive maintenance solution allows plants owners to constantly monitor plants health and use the collected data to calculate upcoming service intervals. This approach prevents unplanned downtime and substantially increases availability.

Remote maintenance solution makes it easy to ser vice machines and system anywhere in the world from office or on the road. This remote solution makes it easy to quickly respond to unforeseen problems in addition to accelerating commissioning. The capacity utilisation of system is maximised as a result. A service technician or engineer can access plants from anywhere in the world to retrieve logbook entries, application data and much more. Downtime can be kept to a minimum, and costly travel can be completely avoided.

By acquiring data for all media - from electrical energy to natural gas and heating oil and even compressed air - it is possible to automatically and comprehensively record all energy consumption. The ability to calculate and view consumption and costs makes it considerably easier to implement energy management systems as defined in ISO 50001. Evaluation and visualisation of historical data allows energy consumption to be analysed at various levels of detail in order to accurately identify cause-and-effect relationships.

Remote maintenance solution makes diagnosing and maintaining plants easier than ever. The solution utilises the latest IT and security standards and allows for significant savings with low investment costs.

B & R's APROL process control system makes it possible to monitor assets constantly. This helps reduce maintenance costs and downtime and optimise the availability and utilisation.

B & R: Right Choice from Drill to Fill
B & R solutions are involved in every single step of the process - from extraction and production to transportation, storage and billing. That's why 'From drill to fill - B & R is the right choice'. B & R offers automation solutions ranging from the field and controller level (up to SIL3) to the DCS/SCADA/ Batch level including connection to Level 2 systems (Dispatching /MES/MIS). B & R's complete hardware and software solutions, comprehensive service and hard-earned expertise in the automation and digitalisation of plants offer advantages for both new (greenfields) as well as existing legacy plants (brownfield).

To bridge the divide between IT and automation, plant operators are increasingly turning to the open OPC UA standard. When it comes to complex processes with real-time requirements, however, OPC UA has had its limitations. That is now changing thanks to Time Sensitive Networking(TSN). B & R has tightly integrated OPC UA into its automation products. It is therefore possible for any B & R controller to be implemented as an OPC UA server or client. This allows a seamless vertical and horizontal communication.

B & R works with O & G companies both directly and indirectly - via authorised B & R partner companies with extensive industry know-how. As key accounts, our customers receive optimal support from our sales and applications teams in order to work out the best possible solutions.