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Tech Fuels Search for Energy

Technology companies are supporting the energy industry to slake the rising demand for energy while keeping a focus on safety and costs.

At the recent Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), where 100,000 attendees from 2,728 companies gathered, the increasingly important role of technology in exploration and production (E&P) surfaced repeatedly in discussions, presentations, and displays.

The ability to improve site testing, provide well intervention, and perform down-hole sensing and monitoring presents big challenges, particularly in remote areas where pressure, temperature, and vibration are critical factors. Meeting demands for data gathering, transmission, and multisite collaboration requires significant support from traditional energy production supply chain along with the latest technology and electronics suppliers.

The four-day conference provided many options to improve or extend the capabilities of tools, systems, and various data collection opportunities, particularly for deepwater and multisite, remote projects.

Addressing subsea challenges has long been a hallmark of the conference's solution spotlights, and this year's 2013 Spotlight Award winners focused on safer means for deepsea drilling by using new types of pressurized equipment and designs that lessen both cost and risk of failure. Notable solutions included some of the latest ruggedized technology that provided new seismic guided drilling, four-dimensional (4D) data visualizations of seismic data, and improved pressure monitoring and refinement ahead of the drill-bit.

The ability to improve the economics, safety, and effectiveness of drilling events is central to developing E&P strategies, particularly as global demand spikes for energy are pushing companies to more quickly and successfully locate, extract, and maintain productive well-sites, often in extremely remote and deep sea locations. The complexities of multisite, remote drilling locations are being met by the on-board electronic advances that are meeting the new, extreme conditions and massive data collection, transfer, and analysis needs.

E&P Challenges
As though the technological, mechanical, electronic, and data demands weren't challenging enough, companies are also contending with the tough, global economic climate. Another side of OTC underscored the growing need to support energy companies with turnkey solutions for companies that must search the global semiconductor and electronics industry to support their operations and internal customers with just-in-time situations.

The rapid growth of machine-to-machine has created a critical need for services to support the onboard electronic components that were not traditionally part of the E&P toolkit. The learning curve for proper handling of electronic components, documenting and ensuring regulatory compliance, electronics process quality management, traceability requirements, and strategic inventory management and warehousing for the latest complex component architectures are significant challenges.

The next generation of tech solutions are paving the way for safer, more productive, effective, and data-rich solutions, thanks to the latest electronic designs and chip architectures that can meet the rugged physical and intensive data tasks.

13 comments on “Tech Fuels Search for Energy

  1. Ashu001
    May 22, 2013

    Mark,

    Really appreciate you taking the Trouble to share your experience with us here at EBN.

    The Oil & Gas Industry has always fascinated me endlessly.

    I had a question with respect to your Article on the Just IN Time Solutions.

    Can you please elaborate what kind of solutions have you seen succeeding especially in the Hostile Terrain that this technology has to operate today(Thousands of Meters below Sea Level).

    Many Thanks!

    Ashish.

     

  2. _hm
    May 22, 2013

    OTC technology is always challenging and fascinating. It is very nice to see technology working in this extreme hostile environment. I wish I get an opportunity to work for compnay like Schumberger or like.

     

  3. prabhakar_deosthali
    May 23, 2013

    The sub sea level environment is one of the harshest environment for electronics to work – the water pressure, high humidity and corrosive environment  poses the real endurance test for the electronics and it is very credible that , away from the lure of the consumer electronics, many a companies are really working hard to make the job of undersea oil and gas exploration easier.

     

  4. elctrnx_lyf
    May 23, 2013

    The improvements in semiconductor and overall product design technologies will play a major role in the progress of oil exploration. Subsea electronics could be real challenge for any company considering the adverse ambient conditions down there.

  5. Clairvoyant
    May 23, 2013

    It's great that technology for oil exploration is advancing, however this shows how large our demand on oil is, especially if we need to start doing more exploration in tough areas such as deep sea exploration.

  6. Mark Bollinger
    May 23, 2013

    @Ashish, Prabhakar_deosthali, elctrnx_lyf

    Thank you to all for your interesting comments and input. Indeed, the O&G industry provides a rich testing (and challenging) ground for determining (and pushing) the extremes that equipment, on-board components, and M2M communication capabilities can endure. Not only are there significant engineering challenges for all types of components, electronic and mechanical, that comprise the tools and equipment used, there is also the design push to improve the durability of the equipment (and components) to avoid costly downtime, to name just one other challenge to the hostile terrain.

    As you all well know, the hostile terrain includes pressure, vibration, heat, distance from base, as well as other environmental conditions depending on the type of drilling and/or data collection engaged. Being able to simultaneously withstand the hostile environment as well as communicate between drill heads, equipment, and above-ground control systems is only part of the challenge. There are also the requirements of increased automated, multiple control process capabilities to reduce problems due to time delay to surface that are encountered during rapidly changing conditions at the drill head. These solution sets push the design envelopes and inform how onboard components are continuously being improved.

    Among the specific components that are proving successful, are the ruggedized ICs, MEMS, and NEMS that have benefited from new materials such as silicon magnetic sensors, and high temperature power MOSFET transistors, to name just a few. Importantly, design innovations in drill strings that take advanatage of the micro- and nano-scale electronics allow for both a more feasible means for increasing downhole tool functionality (i.e., types of testing and measuring for drilling and for data collection to inform 4-D seismic modeling), as well as improved means for retrieving and/or replacing components or tools, as the need arises, during the downhole processes. Additionally, the advances in M2M communcation from downhole to above-ground stations have had a tremendous impace on the entire E&P process and should not be left out of this overview.

    Of course many of the solution details regarding these component innovations are proprietary, but they do owe success to new materials, subassembly architectures, form factors, and data transmission relays.

  7. Ashu001
    May 24, 2013

    hm,

    Yes that's true.

    I also tried very hard to get myself.

    Now however,its too late and I am too well-settled(and Enjoy) my current work.

  8. Ashu001
    May 24, 2013

    Clairvoyant,

    Most of us want to Drive our SUVs right?

    What else can you expect but Demand for Oil to keep Going Up,UP and AWAY!!!

    I still don't see too many consumers Saving Fuel In Areas where its Cheap(or relatively Low Taxed).

    Its only in Regions where Taxes are insanely High(Like California,New York,the UK,Europe,India) does one see consumers aggressively try out alternatives or just plain old conservation techniques.

     

  9. Ashu001
    May 24, 2013

    Mark,

    I know that the Shale gas Industry consumes a Gignatic Amount of Steel Today(for the Drill heads);do you see any new Technology on the Horizon which can reduce the amount of Steel consumed here?

    Thanks Again for sharing your experience with us!

    Regards

    Ashish.

  10. itguyphil
    May 24, 2013

    Change is painful. Even in areas where the failure to change is even more painful. People get accustomed to their day-to-day struggles and just keep on struggling.

  11. Clairvoyant
    May 24, 2013

    Tech4people, I am just stating reality. The world currently has too much of a demand on oil, and once we run out (which will happen), we will have some very big problems to deal with. I personally try to conserve fuel and energy, and hope that other people will too. I don't drive an SUV, I have a hybrid sedan!

  12. Adeniji Kayode
    May 25, 2013

    @Clairvoyant,

    While you msy be right on that, I just feel we are yet to find a suitable and stable alternative for the unstable(In price) fuel energy.

    If the price of oil keeps rising, then that means there is still much demand for it.

  13. Ashu001
    June 19, 2013

    Clairvoyant,

    Good for you!

    Unfortunately most Consumers out there are not as Aware or as caring about the Environment as you are.

    For them I have only one Answer/Solution.

    The Cure for Excess Demand  & Limited Supply is High Prices.

    Eventually Prices reach a point where Consumers start caring about how much Oil do they really consume.

    That's the only way to deal with this situation unfortunately today.

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