Advancements in wireless communication infrastructures and cloud computing have created new possibilities for remote asset monitoring and management. Cloud based oil well video monitoring is one great example of how this technology made remote site supervision a competitive advantage instead of a liability.
Gone are the days of on-site commercial grade DVR and NVR systems deployed for well head monitoring, leaving them at mercy of harsh weather conditions as well as vandalism. Only to view grainy recordings of the events after they have taken place and you have already lost days of production time and money. On top of this you also have to deal with the damage, loss of the equipment and perhaps cleaning up in case there was a leakage of some hazardous chemical or oil.
Thanks to industrial computer based rugged remote surveillance NVR’s and their onboard cellular communication capabilities, now oil rig operators are able to deploy set-n-forget surveillance solutions in harsh conditions and access them remotely for tasks such as live oil well monitoring. Cloud based solutions for oil well video monitoring are saving oil companies tons of money that was traditionally spent on paying and transporting pumper-duty personnel for periodical monitoring, well condition reporting and repairing any damage. Not to mention the cost, of losing days of production due to downtime that increased the overall loss even more.
Optimizing operational and cost efficiency is not the only reason to move from local DVR to cloud based solutions for oil well monitoring. Cloud based monitoring solutions with real time viewing capability are also playing an important part in helping rig operators avoid compliance and insurance related costs, pertaining to employee and environmental safety.
Complementing SCADA and Industrial IoT Enabled Well Monitoring
There are a number of IoT technologies that are being implemented for data collections at oil rigs that produce valuable information leveraging existing SCADA systems and additional sensors to collect data on every part of the operation. Things like chemical injection pump to monitor amount of chemical, as well as to monitor and adjust the ideal vacuum pressure. Using IoT and machine learning technologies, oil wells are fast becoming smart assets allowing for condition based automated management and control. They are also generating a lot of data that gets aggregated and streamed through IoT gateway devices to the cloud where analytics software generate live analysis and reporting for the operator.
Video monitoring is a great complement of SCADA and sensor based monitoring of oil well assets as it provides visual intelligence that is more intuitive for humans to analyze quickly and take necessary measures. Advanced video management systems allow for much deeper artificial intelligence based analysis of the video, given that they are able to recognize things and events and trigger real time alerts for the off site supervisors to attend the situation immediately. Cloud based video solutions for well monitoring can detect faults in equipment, analyze personnel performance and detect unintended or unplanned changes to physical processes. This ability allows operators greater control over systems and can enable companies to perform predictive maintenance of equipment and machinery in order to keep them operating at optimal levels.
Critical Part of Overall Cyber-Physical Protection Strategy
Cloud computing brings great amount of benefits for the oil and gas industry enabling them to allocate their resources more intelligently and save more money to grow their business, however, adding smart devices accessible over internet does increase the exposure of remote site technologies to the threat of cyber attacks. SCADA telemetry and PLC’s are widely used operational technologies for automating control and supervision in Oil and Gas industry. Integrating them with cloud managed devices and actuators increases their vulnerability of getting hacked.
Energy is one of the top critical infrastructure sectors that face cyber threats. While physical loss due to vandalism, theft or equipment malfunction can be quite damaging to company’s reputation and its profitability, cyber attacks on the other hand can be even more destructive and harder to identify and control. IoT and M2M assets require specialized cyber security hardware and software solutions that are purposely designed for operational technology in industrial environment. Video Surveillance is one of the systems on the network that Cyber Security solutions are protecting, therefore a solid industrial firewall system will ensure integrity of both ends of the security apparatus – physical and network. Continuous functioning of both is critical for providing a virtually impenetrable security mechanism to protect critical infrastructure sites such as oil wells.
How will Video Monitoring Solutions for Oil Wells evolve in future
With the emergence and continued growth of the Internet of Things, new opportunities and applications for connected devices have become almost impossible to keep track of. Further advancements, such as 5G wireless communications, could eventually enable even more devices to be connected and implemented. Drones, for example, are constantly being modified and adapted for new uses. Could we one day see fleets of drones using in-built IP cameras with data analytics and connected to advanced video-based monitoring systems hovering over and zipping around oil well location sites? These innovations would only further increase the benefits available today as well as providing additional perks that we are, as yet, unaware of. Given the great strides both drones and video-based monitoring technologies have taken in the last few years leading up to the present day, there seems to be no reason to doubt this scenario will indeed come to be.