Modernizing Oil, Gas and Water ICT Infrastructures
Today, digital transformation is affecting every industry. In the oil, gas and water sectors digitalization is required for various things, including: to more efficiently extract raw materials and hydrocarbons, to reduce costs and complexities of operating in remote, hazardous environments, to simplify day-to-day operations, and meet regulatory constraints.
In such processes, the communications infrastructure plays a crucial role. Many companies are transforming their operations with digital communications technologies that bring sophisticated automation, remote monitoring, and real-time asset management to the field. These technologies offer the potential to accelerate productivity, improve operational efficiencies, and improve security for physical sites, computer systems, and employees.
If we look at a typical Oil & Gas ecosystem and a typical Water utility ecosystem, we will find that they are very similar, being composed of similar building blocks:
- Extraction/exploration sites
- Reservoirs/storage sites
- Transmission pipelines
- Production/treatment sites
- Distribution network
Communications are an integral part of the utility ecosystem, required for a wide variety of services and applications. Utilities have traditionally run two separate, segregated communications infrastructures: 1) OT for mission-critical application and 2) IT for corporate traffic and applications. Each system has its own set of requirements:
- OT for Mission-critical operational applications handles SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), telemetry, real-time information systems, alarms, CCTV systems, office-to-field applications, safety and security systems. Moreover, the complex systems composed by pumps, compressors, valves and generators rely on a super-reliable communications network to support 24*7 operations. Due to the critical nature of these applications, the ICT infrastructure needs high availability, supreme resilience and the ability to cope with multiple failures.
- IT for corporate traffic and applications which handles applications like Voice, Email, video conference, web portals, and data centers, CRM systems, and entertainment for workforce in remote sites.
However, this separation of concerns is undergoing change, driven by a variety of market trends:
- SDH/TDM IS APPROACHING END-OF-LIFE: Due high maintenance costs and limited support for new IP-based services.
- CONVERGENCE BETWEEN IT AND OT: Reduces TCO, improves cyber security, and simplifies operations.
- SECURITY: There is a continuous rise in physical/site and cyber security threats.
- ENVIRONMENTAL: Increased regulations for availability, safety, leak control/detection/ prevention and disaster recovery issues.
- MASSIVE CCTV: For increased, real-time security for unmanned stations alongside pipelines and off-shore/on-shore platforms.
- AUTOMATION: Controls “smart” devices/services, supports long-range unmanned pipelines, improves efficiency, reduces cost.
- INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT): Enables miniature, intelligent, and connected sensors for full asset management. Also described as IIoT – Industrial IoT.
- BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE: Combines Big Data with data centers, ERP systems, and asset management.
- ENERGY CONSUMPTION ON THE RISE: Double-digit growth of liquid fuels and natural gas demand expected until 2040. Need to maximize production efficiency.
Importantly, the benefits of digitization are clear:
- Improving production efficiency - As production moves to more remote, hazardous locations and operations expand, automation enabled by sensors (IIoT), SCADA, and other distributed control systems becomes all the more critical. These systems must support mission-critical processes and minimize staff deployment on site by shifting decision making to the central control room.
- Reducing OPEX - Like all companies, OGW utilities face considerable pressures in increasing shareholder return as quickly as possible. For this, operations need to run at peak speed and efficiency at all times. To date, traffic generated by SCADA, Terrestrial Trunk Radio (TETRA), IT, and security applications is carried over separate TDM networks, each of which needs a static bandwidth allocation. This separation requires you to support multiple types of cabling and platforms for each new project, keep a variety of spare systems, and ensure that engineers are trained to use them. What’s more, your legacy TDM and SDH solutions are nearing end-of-life. To remain profitable, you need a future-proof solution which can support legacy applications, while being ready for new IP and Ethernet-based applications.
- Improving operations and production conditions - OGW companies are reaching farther than ever before in the quest for hydrocarbons and water. To keep up with demand, may require managing construction, drilling, and pipeline operations that span thousands of kilometers. No matter how far you go, you need to ensure that you provide comfortable and convenient working and living conditions for your valued field personnel.
- Employee satisfaction and productivity – Often times, extraordinary demands are placed upon onsite personnel responsible for critical operations. With so much at stake, it’s important to ensure that these workers remain comfortable and productive. Good working and living conditions are crucial to stable production and also help you recruit and retain highly skilled employees. Cutting-edge communications, information, and entertainment services can make workers’ jobs and lives simpler.
- Safety and security, first and foremost - Safety and security are top concerns for OGW companies whose assets are lie far and wide, often in geographically challenging or politically unstable locations. Concerns range from cyber-attacks, theft, and vandalism, to health and safety and even to a host of other geographical, economic, or political issues.
The implications are clear. As you near your digital transformation, you need to work with a trusted partner who is experienced in driving and designing modernization processes for OGW companies. ECI has been tried and tested by a wide variety of companies worldwide and offers:
- Risk-free migration with deterministic support for OT and mission critical applications
- Security offering tailored for critical infrastructures
- Simplified operations and centralized control
- And last but not least, future proof solutions that will work for you well into the future