Guest Editorial: Ushering in a New Era of Oilfield Innovation With the Internet of Things
- Mehrzad Mahdavi (Weatherford)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 14 - 15
- 2017. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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The Internet of Things (IoT)—the connected network of Internet-enabled physical devices that collect and exchange information with each other—is rapidly growing in both acceptance and applicability across a number of industries.
This trend shows no signs of slowing down. Studies predict that by 2020, the IoT will include nearly 50 billion devices worldwide with 212 billion sensors producing 44 zetabytes of data. These devices, the “things” in the IoT, include everything from smartphones and automobiles to valves and pumps in industrial plants.
The growing momentum of IoT adoption is mainly driven by the reduction in cost of connectivity and computation. According to market studies, over the past 10 years, the cost of sensors has been cut in half, the cost of bandwidth has dropped by a factor of 40, and the cost of processing has decreased by a factor of 60. Although further efforts are required to lower the cost of sensors, the number of new IoT use cases has grown and a greater number of technology companies are developing IoT-specific services and technologies ranging from sensors and chip sets to platforms and software systems. The main barriers to IoT adoption by industries—network security and scalability—have also been addressed, with reliable and highly secure communication systems and analytics.
What do these advances mean for the oil field? The oil and gas industry finds itself at the precipice of a new era of innovation, spurred by a normalization of oil prices over the past 2 years. Now, as E&P companies slowly ramp up drilling and production activities while adjusting to a new period of “lower for longer” prices, the time is right for widespread adoption of the IoT.
Advancing the Digital Transformation
While several operators and service companies have begun implementing the IoT in some parts of their daily operations, the industry as a whole still seems uncertain about how to integrate it for optimal business impact. Fortunately, the industry does not have to start from first principles to implement IoT technologies, thanks to an infrastructure built in support of the first iteration of the digital oil field more than a decade ago.
The digital oil field has made strides in certain areas, such as affording project collaboration with colleagues located across the globe via real-time operating centers. However, the concept has not fulfilled its ultimate promise of enabling information-based business decisions that deliver end-to-end optimized operations, increased uptime, and new value creation.
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