An oilfield is an area where natural gas and crude oil are produced. It spreads over large regions below the earth’s surface. It can also extend to hundreds of miles due to hydrocarbon tanks’ need for space.
For an oilfield to function well, the necessary tools and resources should be in place. From oilfield monitoring equipment to oil rigs to human resources, these all work together to operate an oilfield.
Where are oilfields located?
There are over 30,000 oilfields in the world – both offshore and onshore. Many of them are in the Middle East; the two most significant are in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Out of these thousands of oil fields, however, only 10 percent affects oil supplies globally.
Oilfields can either be located in remote locations or near towns and communities. Either way, the logistics of setting up an oilfield can get extremely complicated. Having the right equipment in the right setting at the right time is challenging and will require careful planning.
Housing for Oilfield Personnel
Apart from oilfield monitoring and drilling equipment, oil companies need to provide shelter and accommodations for workers in remote locations. Water, electricity, and an adequate supply of food are must-have’s.
Additionally, remote oilfields tend to be in locations with extreme weather conditions; so, proper heating and cooling need to be installed and maintained.
Safety and comfort are priorities; thus, it’s essential to make sure remote oilfield workers have safe and comfortable living conditions.
The oil industry has three sub-sectors.
Upstream industry includes the production of crude from oil wells. It also indicates the process of separating water from oil.
The downstream industry involves the collecting, refining, storing, marketing, and sales of refined oil products.
Midstream industry includes the hauling of crude oil with tankers or through the oil pipelines.
Importance of Data Collection and Monitoring
Oilfields are heavily dependent on data and economics. Thus, oilfield monitoring and data gathering equipment are a necessity in the day-to-day operations of these work sites. After all, every oilfield is practically attached to a revenue counter to see how much profits are made.
Additionally, many different components are involved in the well production. And they all need sufficient payment to do their part. Several various parties such as the land and mineral rights owners to the taxman and production company are paid according to their roles in the oil production.
Oilfield Working Parameters
Oilfield working parameters are consistently monitored daily. An employee would inspect each well regularly and gather necessary data: tank levels, pressures, flows, etc. This worker would drive long distances, often on challenging routes, inspecting up to 30 oilfields a day.
The employee will also need to check the oilfield monitoring equipment and see if there are repairs and upgrades required for operation.
This scenario is common when you’re working in an oilfield.
Almost every monitoring and data gathering equipment used in oilfields is connected to sensors, that are also integrated into a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) device.
While these wired systems are the norm in the oilfield industry, the industry has some unique characteristics that have challenged wired networks.
These unique characteristics include:
Communications range can be extensive. The distance between supervised assets can measure from a mere 50 yards to overwhelming thousands or so yards.
The travel time for employees to check work sites profoundly affect operations. It’s not uncommon for say, an electrician to have to take several hours to reach an oilfield site, then take another few days to perform the work that needs to be done.
The local setting can present challenges. A good example is the presence of conduits. They may need to be buried, which will then require oilfields to have what is called a workover. A workover takes place when the well when the wirings and sensors are affected.
Public and private spaces such as roads, cemeteries, and other structures may prohibit wiring systems from running.
Installation and maintenance of wiring systems can get costly. The expenses go up to $15 to $25 per foot. These rates can go higher if you need to do trenching. The installation costs can significantly affect the use of wiring solutions – even if the length is ideal and feasible.