Enhancements in digitisation-driven connectivity have empowered the oil & gas industry by providing unparalleled opportunities for value creation through new levels of data capture and analysis. By Philippe Arsonneau, senior VP for Strategic Customers and Segments, Schneider Electric
Enhancements in digitisation-driven connectivity have empowered the oil & gas industry by providing unparalleled opportunities for value creation through new levels of data capture and analysis. As the applicability of digitisation across all areas of the vast global oil & gas enterprise become more and more apparent, forward-looking managers are reinventing many of their key upstream, midstream and downstream processes. According to the World Economic Forum, digital transformation in the oil & gas industry could unlock approximately US$1.6 trillion of value for the industry, its customers and wider society.
In order to understand some of the tangible business benefits of digitisation, it is easier to focus on one specific, but important area as an example of the productivity (and profitability) gains that can be realised. In this case, an analysis of the area of operational power stability can provide us with a clear picture. More specifically, consider a focus on the area of backup power, which, in many cases, is managed through a device called an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).
The very nature of the oil & gas industry means that many of its complex operations, from a power perspective, are often plagued by problems like power sags, surges, outages, harmonics, power factor correction or frequency and voltage fluctuations. These situations hinder productivity because they lead to production power stops, high maintenance costs, and increased safety risks.
Over many years, UPS devices have proliferated across oil & gas operations. For instance, gas pipelines have compression and decompression points with sensitive equipment like pumps, motors and variable speed drives, which require a reliable, secure power supply. Offshore oil platforms are equipped with industrial UPSs that can provide power reliability despite exposure to harsh outside elements such as extreme temperature and high humidity levels. Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) regasification plants, refineries and other processing plants need power protection of sophisticated control equipment such as Distributed Control Systems (DCS), Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and industrial Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.
There are also facilities within these operations that house data centres or large server rooms that need high quality, appropriately sized commercial UPSs for power reliability. In fact, as larger and larger volumes of data get generated, the deployment of ‘edge’ data centres to address local data latency requirements is becoming more common. These new sites also require protection from power issues so that uptime and information flow can be maintained. The scope of power protection across the enterprise gets very large, very fast, and therefore represents a great potential for cost savings through digitalisation-led modernisation.
Most Of Industry UPSs Are Very Old, And Digitisation Now Makes UPS Upgrades Easy To Justify
In many areas across the global oil & gas enterprise, it is not uncommon to find UPS equipment that is 20 years or more in age. New UPSs are highly efficient compared to the UPSs of old. As a result, an upgrade represents tens of thousands of dollars in energy savings each year per site. However, the abilities of new digitised UPSs to communicate is where the true bang for the buck gets generated. Since the new UPSs are built with advanced connectivity in mind, the possibility now exists to perform predictive maintenance across an entire network of connected UPSs. The ability to say ‘all the signs tell us that this UPS will fail within the next 3 months so I am going to do something about it now,” saves money through reduced downtime.
In addition, the new UPSs are smaller in size and take up less space. The new equipment may also prove to be less costly than what is generally assumed, when compared to the amount paid for the original equipment. Consider the example of equipping a UPS with new lithium-ion technology batteries instead of traditional lead acid batteries. The new technology offers the following advantages over the old:
- Double the battery life as compared to lead-acid batteries and simplified maintenance.
- Improved use of facility real estate due to a 50 percent to 75 percent reduction in secure power footprint
- Improved management capabilities, including embedded management at the cell, module and cabinet levels, leading to predictable, consistent performance and battery health.
UPSs As Part Of A Greater IIoT Friendly Architecture
The new, digitised UPSs, since they are connected within a network, can now tap into the synergies of a more expansive Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) network through comprehensive IT/OT architectural platforms. Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure architecture, for instance, consists of three layers ̶ connected products, edge control, and analytics ̶ that are integrated to facilitate IIoT connectivity and mobility, cloud analytics, and cybersecurity.
EcoStruxure can be delivered to end users through reference designs, pre-configured solutions, and prefabricated solutions. It can be configured as an entire plant or it can start out as an infrastructure product, like an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that is managed through the cloud. It can be deployed all at once or it can be built in stages or pieces.
To learn more about how digitisation is helping the oil & gas industry to dramatically cut costs, download the recently published e-guide entitled “A Practical Guide to Achieving Oil & Gas Operational Efficiency through Digitisation.” For information regarding business continuity best practices click here. For guidance on specific Oil & Gas industry power and control architectures visit our new industry web page.
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