‘Great crew change’ drives producers toward modern field connectivity

2016-09-29 - E&P Magazine article by Renner Vaughn, ABB Wireless - September 27, 2016

Upstream operations teams are smaller these days, but the demands of the onshore field remain the same. Operators still have to manage thousands of wells spanning large geographic regions, most of them in rural territories. Wellheads have some basic automation, but the SCADA system might not be reliable enough to detect a sensor alarm that leads to an overflowing storage tank. Fines for detectable emissions at a storage tank can reach $15,000/day in many U.S. shale plays, so it should be no surprise that leak detection continues to be a high priority across the value chain.

When a leak is suspected, one option is to immediately dispatch a technician to the site without any indication of the specific problem. The actual time to site could be a few hours depending on the size of the field and the condition of the roads. The technician arrives onsite but has trouble finding the source of the leak, so he or she tries to get in touch with a more experienced team member and report visual status. Spotty cellular service prompts the technician to drive to a nearby hilltop to make the call. The expert might be busy helping other junior technicians address problems elsewhere in the field and does not answer the phone. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

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