A global transition to clean energy is underway, with many ambitions slowly turning into actions. The undertaking is enormous, particularly when it comes to aging infrastructure in the oil industry.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown us that the world will rely on hydrocarbons for a long time. However, there’s an opportunity to make oil processing itself far less harmful to the environment. Part of the energy transition will include adapting these processes rather than shutting them down entirely.
Oil production often occurs in mature fields with old infrastructure, and operations have various issues with asset integrity. Wellstream production for mature areas is complex — involving high water content, oil-water emulsions, potential solids and sand production. Process control and monitoring have been slow to update, and many incumbent solutions malfunction in these types of dirty and harsh operating environments. Many separator failures are caused by faulty fluid level measurement instrumentation.
A massive 75% of U.S. Gulf Coast maintenance shutdowns each year are unplanned, resulting in wasted resources and revenue losses of $650 billion annually. The shutdowns are caused by run-to-failure operations, outdated manual processes and a lack of insights for control, monitoring and optimization.
What can the industry do to boost efficiency and decrease waste? One quick win is to upgrade level measurement to allow basic functionality. Having proper process control and monitoring will reduce overall operating costs, improve production output and reduce carbon emissions.
Novel level instrumentation such as electrical tomography can provide consistent and reliable level interfaces and function in dirty conditions with contamination. The comprehensive data it generates also allows good operator visualization and capabilities to do more analytic and optimization work.
Widely implemented in the healthcare sector, software-based electrical tomography contains unique sensor technology that could significantly improve process control for existing hydrocarbon production. Research shows that improving upstream oil and gas operations by 10% reduces total emissions by 4%.
Operators need to look to new technology and collaborate across the industry to deploy these solutions at scale. Collaboration encourages innovation and helps to de-risk new technology deployments. The status quo is the worst way forward — not sustainable or prosperous.
Mika Tienhaara is CEO of Rocsole.
Read more of SupplyChainBrain's 2022 Supply Chain ESG Guide here.
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