DRONES, DEEPWATER, BIG DATA: THE FUTURE OF OIL & GAS
Drones get bad press. They’re often seen only as weapons of war or as a potential danger to aircraft. In this 15th issue of DirectIndustry e-magazine, you will see that they are emerging as an important tool for better and safer inspections in the oil & gas industry.
This issue also explores the future of offshore oil recovery in the ocean depths. In our interactive infographic, discover how advanced subsea equipment that is operational to 3,000 meters can handle extreme conditions to extract ultra deep-water reserves.
Also, don’t miss our special coverage of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where 5G and ultra narrow-band were the major themes.
From 3D laser mapping to identifying pipeline corrosion and checking well pads, refineries and chemical plants, the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is on the rise, both onshore and off.
Drones get bad press. They’re often seen only as weapons of war or as a potential danger to aircraft. However, they are...
The days of easy oil and gas are over. The future of offshore oil recovery now lies in the ocean depths, down to 3,000 meters, and even beyond. But accessing ultra deep-water reserves necessitates advanced technologies designed for extreme conditions. This interactive infographic presents some of the latest technologies for subsea facilities.
From planning and maintenance to equipment deployment, oil well inefficiencies are wide-ranging and require diverse solutions. Low oil prices have resulted in cost-cutting, but efficiency requires investment in new technologies and big data.
Last year GE Intelligent Platforms Software announced a new production...
Sigfox is a new IoT communications company that uses a narrow-band radio network. It already connects 500,000 objects, with 7 million in the works. DirectIndustry e-magazine spoke with Thomas Nicholls, Executive VP Communications of this fast-growing company at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What does “Sigfox” mean and what is its underlying purpose?
Thomas Nicholls: Sigfox means “clever signal.” In the world of radio, the word fox refers to a very clear signal. Sigfox is a solution for the democratization of connectivity. Until now, we had 2G, 3G, 4G, WiFi and Bluetooth. These broadband solutions are relatively expensive ways to connect objects and consume a lot of energy because you must charge batteries. That means you can’t connect everything. Sigfox concentrates on basic connectivity. Our solution enables users to send and receive short messages over long distances using narrow-band radio waves. This makes it possible to connect everything through a transceiver which uses very little energy. It’s the Twitter of connectivity.
It’s possible to send 12-byte messages 140 times a day.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What kind of messages can be sent?
Thomas Nicholls: It’s possible to send 12-byte messages 140 times a day. We focus on optimization through use of narrow-band. There’s no point in sending more information than necessary. We’re talking about GPS coordinates, temperature or light levels. For example, a GPS position requires 9 bytes.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Why does it use so little energy?
Thomas Nicholls: The connected object is not actively networked. It sends the message and goes into standby mode, without sollicitating the network. It’s the network that pulls in the signal. That’s why these objects have very long battery life.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: How does it work in the field?
Thomas Nicholls: We deploy the technology like Orange or AT&T. We install Sigfox antennas on building roofs. But, since we transmit a small amount of data using the longest waves, antenna distribution is less dense. We can cover Spain with 1,500 antennas, while Orange has several hundred thousand.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Who are your competitors?
Thomas Nicholls: We don’t have any. We offer a new connectivity solution based on narrow-band and small amounts of data. When we commercially started in 2012, everyone was focused on broadband. Things have changed, and today everyone realizes that it’s necessary to reduce consumption. But we’re the only available solution today.
We offer a new connectivity solution based on narrow-band and small amounts of data.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Is your service secure?
Thomas Nicholls: We decided to avoid analyzing client messages. For example, if a client sends a message describing a position, we don’t know it refers to a position. We promise to receive and retransmit the message without saving a history of its passage. So, there’s no point in hacking us, because we don’t save any data on anyone. One of our clients, Securitas Direct, even uses Sigfox to complement its 3G connections because Sigfox is very difficult to jam.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: Can you give us an example of how clients use your network?
Thomas Nicholls: Otio is a company specializing in building automation. They sell a plug-in device that notifies you not only in case of a power failure, but also if it detects a noise—a door opening, a window being broken, etc. We call it IoT Shazam.
Executive VP Communications
Hicham Dhouibi, industry analyst at DirectIndustry, contributed to this interview.
Though 4G networks are not yet deployed all around the globe, the next-generation mobile standard has already begun to take shape. 5G was the megatrend at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. Yet its definition won’t be complete until 2020.
“On the Path to 5G,” “Building Next-Gen Standard,” “5G: the Future is Happening.” These are some of the signs visible along the aisles at Mobile World. 5G was everywhere and on everyone’s lips, each offering a different definition. Yet, this next-gen mobile standard will only be finalized in 2020.
A Revolutionary New Ecosystem
From Huawei to Ericsson and Samsung to Nokia, the fair’s industrial players maintained that 5G is expected to encompass both an evolution of LTE-A (4G) features and the introduction of genuinely new technology. It will represent a whole new ecosystem with a new architecture.
For Aisha Evans, Corporate VP and General Manager at Intel:
When we talk about 5G, it’s not just taking existing technologies like LTE, WiFi and improving them. It’s also creating new technologies like mobile edge millimeter wave.
The mm-wave spectrum has long been ignored by the mobile industry. But Intel is now working on developing mm-wave cells suitable for mobile handsets. According to the company, by tapping into the 30-300 GHz spectrum, mm-wave technology will offer backhaul performance and address the need for massive IoT deployment and connection of billions of devices.
In addition to the billions of phones and tablets that are connected, there will soon be robots, drones, all kind of things that today are not connected. 5G will enable the connection of everything to the cloud from everywhere.
In addition, 5G is expected to have multi-radio access architecture, enabling devices to connect to multiple 5G cells at the same time, offering always-connected capability.
New 5G Services
What will 5G offer?
Massive throughput, with download speeds of up to 20 Gbps, will be like 30,000 people in a stadium watching a YouTube video on their smartphones at the same time.
Low latency of less than 1ms—50 times faster than today’s 4G—will enable autonomous driving that requires fast response and action.
Multipoint connection density, thoughnot yet defined,will enablethe deployment and connection of billions of IoT devices currently with little or no connectivity. This will provide 1 million connections/km2.
Narrow-band will also aid machine-to-machine communication, enabling small amounts of data to be efficiently sent and received.
Tailored connectivity means the architecture will automatically deploy the appropriate network in the most efficient way for a particular service. For example, it will be possible to create a temporary, task-specific network which disappears once the mission has been accomplished.
Connectivity accessible everywhere will facilitate remote industrial operations, for example in the oil and gas and mining industries, or for remote surgery.
Ultra-reliability should render the network uncrackable, ensuring a level of security hitherto impossible. Autonomous driving will also benefit.
Though the network is not yet in place, Intel has already established itself as a groundbreaking leader, in collaboration with key industry players like Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, SK Telecom, China Mobile and Cisco.
Preparing the Network
Intel is working with partners on a prototype to make 5G a reality. During the fair, the company even announced that they had “an actual platform, an actual prototype available.”
Using a signal generator and measurement instruments, Intel partner National Instruments is working with universities to simulate different scenarios, prototyping real waveforms and signals to offer a clear definition of 5G. The company is already generating multiple connections using mm-wave.
The first large-scale trial of 5G technology will take place during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Hicham Dhouibi, industry analyst at DirectIndustry, contributed to this report.
If the new boom in shale fracking is to become cost-effective and environmentally sustainable, the industry must find new ways to save water.
How to reduce fresh water usage—as well as treat and reuse water from shale production —is one of the greatest challenges facing the onshore oil and gas industry, particularly at the thousands of wells in drought-affected parts of the USA. With water management accounting for 10-30% of costs, can the shale fracking revolution be maintained by using new water-saving techniques?
DirectIndustry e-magazine presents technologies that could help an industry faced with a future of cheap oil, where both cost-cutting and sustainable environmental practices are at the very top of the agenda.
1. Recycling Brackish Water
Hydraulic fracturing—fracking—uses a slurry of sand, steam and chemicals to crack open shale formations with very low permeability, allowing hydrocarbons to flow to the well-bore and then to the surface. Multiple fracturing at one well typically requires about 200,000 barrels of water. The process results in a complex effluent of oils, grease and chemical additives that contains more barium, strontium, calcium and magnesium salts than saltwater. It’s a problematic process, but solutions are emerging. In Texas, Apache has developed a unique system using brackish and recycled fracking water, while Pioneer recently announced a plan to use a 20-mile polyethylene pipe to take 150,000 barrels per day of treated municipal wastewater from a water reclamation plant in Odessa, Texas.
Courtesy of Apache
2. Producing Water From Ice Crystals
GE and Statoil recently announced four winners of their second Open Innovation Challenge: Reduced Use of Water in Onshore Oil & Gas Operations, which received over 100 entries from 23 different countries. One of the winners, Melbourne, Australia’s Clean Energy and Water Technologies proposed using EFC (Eutectic Freeze Crystallization) technology to remove organic compounds, and then separate remaining compounds by creating ice crystals. Company Director Ahilan Raman stated:
Each component can be separated in a pure form so that they will have a commercial value. It is less energy intensive, has no corrosion problems, and produces pure water that can be recycled for fracking without any salt build-up in pipelines.
3. Purifying Water By Mechanical Evaporation
Raman thinks that the only way forward is to reclaim and recycle water contaminated by fracking. In the same vein, another Open Innovation winner, Micronic Technologies, proposes the use of portable mechanical evaporation technology. Karen Sorber is Executive Chair/CEO at the Wise, Virginia company:
MicroDesal is a low-pressure, low-temperature, mechanical evaporation technology that purifies contaminated water from any source. It removes ultra-high total dissolved solids, suspended solids, bacteria, and heavy metals in one pass, without chemicals, filters, or membranes.
After processing 57 runs of contaminated water samples, 88% were pure enough for human consumption.
Water-repellent walls (Courtesy of University of Rochester)
4. Exploring New Leads with Lasers & Nano-Sponges
There were two other winners of the Challenge’s initial cash prize of US$25,000, both from the USA. The University of Rochester’s Institute for Optics proposed using high-powered lasers to make the metal inner walls of downhole production pipes super water-repellent. The tactic greatly reduces the contact between the pipe walls and the salt-concentrated water, making it harder for salt to build up. Battelle Memorial Institute suggested injecting ‘nano-sponges’ into fracking wells to soak-up halite ions, the main cause of the salt deposits.
Camille Rustici is a Video Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…