Introduction to Unified Critical Communications
The Benefits of Unified Critical Communications
Benefits of Unified Critical Communications for Oil and Gas
It’s been tough time for the oil and gas industry as volatile markets, rising costs, declining productivity and a shrinking skilled workforce take their toll on business. The concept of a Digital Oil Field promises a way out, but it depends crucially on integrated communications. O&G companies are looking to integrate their business operations using advances in communications technology to improve productivity, control costs, increase reliability, security and worker safety. But no single technology can fully service this integration, when companies must consider cost, coverage, spectrum availability, bandwidth, latency, ease of deployment, and flexibility.
The solution lies in unifying multiple technologies: an integrated mix of different communications technologies, ranging from VSAT satellite, LTE broadband, WiFi, cellular, to digital LMR, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
By unifying their critical communications, they stand to gain:
- Greater coverage and communications resilience throughout the entire range of their operations from upstream exploration and production to midstream pipeline transport, processing and storage, to downstream refining and distribution, all the way from field locations to corporate headquarters,
- More efficient operations through a greater use of advanced telemetry, sensor networks, remote monitoring and control of equipment,
- Increased end user productivity through multi-device team communications where the exchange of voice consultations, field data, images and video enable collaborations and faster decision-making among skilled staff wherever they may be based,
- Improved worker safety and security with – emergency communications, go-ahead message broadcasts across diverse bearer networks, integrated communications security, video protection, and environment monitoring,
- Huge cost reductions in areas such as exploration, field development, and production operations, which are historically the riskiest and most expensive for a company. Using field automation, workforce management applications and automated asset management can slash downtime and shorten schedules,
- Find additional reserves and potential sources of income either by extending the lifetime of ‘brown fields’ (which previously would have reached the end of their economic life) or by undertaking more complex projects to access reserves in difficult environments.
The future goal is to develop a Digital Oilfield using the Industrial Internet of Things to integrate, automate, and optimize upstream operations. This involves utilizing machine-to-machine communications among millions of wirelessly connected smart elements such as sensors, measuring devices, and actuators embedded in drills or wellheads which exchange data in real time.
Specialized applications send the combined and integrated sensor data to servers for storage, retrieval, processing and analysis. Field data is processed continuously in real time, with smart applications automating decision-making, performing predictive analyses, reacting to alarms, and monitoring and controlling production process – with or without human intervention.
Field telecommunications are critical to the success of Digital Oilfield services. In the near future, extraction companies will be rethinking the plethora of single-function bearers and applications that many exploration and extraction companies currently operate.
Rather, the future for the Digital Oilfield is to deliver business efficiencies, by bringing the field to the operator rather than the operator to the field. Underlying any Digital Oilfield is an integrated communications system that is reliable, resilient, cost-effective, robust, and secure.