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Oil and gas campuses in the Middle East are undoubtedly a challenging environment to work in. They're massive in scale with large workforces and countless devices, dealing with long processes and massive reserves. The combustible and explosive nature of oil and gas means that they are high-risk areas by default.
Misuse of oil and gas campus equipment can easily lead to accidents, production faults, or a breakdown in supply. Not only does this bring immediate danger, it can also result in wider economic losses as well as damage to the surrounding environment. While routine inspection can mitigate some risks, it can't identify every potential danger. And with legacy equipment in use, possible safety issues can't be predicted in advance. Taken together, all of these factors can pose potential safety risks to the operations of oil and gas campuses. So, how can this be addressed?
The answer, quite simply, lies in digital transformation, which boosts safety on oil and gas fields as well as while reducing costs and improving efficiency. The use of reliable production networks and data ensures that operations are secure, while technologies — such as those that enable voice and video interaction between the site and a dispatching center — make daily processes far more efficient. A digital approach also enables resources to be used more efficiently.
We are now entering a new era, where digital transformation is already driving the evolution of smarter and safer oil and gas campus management. For example, patrols are improved by equipping vehicles with High Definition (HD) video. On many traditional sites, patrol personnel have to be authorized and managed manually while access permits for guest vehicles rely on manual document verification. Patrol video can't be relayed directly to the control center, in real time, and patrol reports must be completed manually, which is not only time consuming but may result in less detailed safety records.
Switching to a digital solution, however, resolves all of this. Here, on this new digital campus, patrol personnel are authorized online and live HD patrol video is streamed to the control center instantaneously. Multiple channels of vehicle-mounted HD video are aggregated and backhauled, improving vehicle recognition capability, sounding the alarm in the command center as soon as an unauthorized vehicle is detected. This all helps to boost the efficiency of oil and gas station patrols.
Taking a digital approach also boosts safety by improving the efficiency of onsite inspections using 5G-connected digital helmets. On oil and gas campuses that rely on older hardware, manual inspections are paper-based and labor intensive and they must be conducted onsite, without remote guidance. This all adds up to costly delays while problems are fixed. Paper documents, by their very nature are also prone to damage and can be difficult to handle while wearing gloves. And sometimes, they simply go missing and are unavailable.
In contrast, digital devices and intelligent software enable remote experts to solve onsite problems online, using real-time voice and video interaction over a 5G network. Digital helmets allow inspection personnel to receive and deliver voice instructions, with hands-free operations making their work safer, more secure, and far more efficient. For example, onsite technicians can check product manuals, repair records, or other technical documents all through voice channels.
Campus management is key to the processes involved in oil and gas production. The combination of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G has the potential to dramatically improve them. To date, Huawei has already integrated smart Operations and Maintenance (O&M), security management, and access control functions into the daily operations of oil and gas campuses. And even more intelligent features can be realized through Huawei's solution, which makes remote collaboration, drone inspections, and Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) monitoring possible. Such implementations demonstrate — out in the real world — just how technology makes operations more efficient, more convenient, and safer.
Indeed, Huawei is leading the way in this new era of intelligent oil and gas campus management, providing the technical backbone that new smart services run on. Huawei's FusionCube hyper-converged infrastructure solves the problem of complex platform management, which usually involves hardware from more than one vendor. When devices are maintained by different services providers, troubleshooting becomes much slower, making overall management more complex and costly.
With converged infrastructure that supports the same platform, FusionCube converges and simplifies computing, storage, and networking, and also provides an open and scalable system. As well as making O&M simpler, this results in faster deployment and easier maintenance.
Huawei's Atlas 500 edge computing station is ideal for the harsh environments where oil and gas stations are located. Able to operate in extreme hot and cold conditions, Atlas 500 also has built-in shock resistance to combat the vibration experienced by vehicle-mounted inspection devices. These features make the hardware extremely reliable. Video from up to 20 HD cameras can be processed simultaneously, guaranteeing that important messages can be retrieved in the shortest possible time.
Huawei is committed to shaping the digital evolution of the oil and gas industry. It recognizes the importance of intelligent applications based on technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and 5G, and already provides the infrastructure that enables its partners to make use of these innovations, in order to optimize their processes in a way that is secure, reliable, and safe.
These technologies bring a number of benefits to daily operations. 5G, for example, offers high bandwidth coupled with low latency, to allow for always connected operations, while network slicing enables service isolation to ensure security. In addition, 5G's low power consumption extends the battery life of IoT sensors.
Similarly, AI optimizes processes and manages complex operations: it can be used, for instance, to interpret geological data to make oil drilling more efficient. AR and VR help to simulate oil and gas operations, not only to create a digital twin for inspections but also to assist field operators learning the job and undergoing emergency training.
Huawei has invested a total of US$4 billion researching 5G technology since 2009, submitting 26,600 standards contributions to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Currently, Huawei has more than 10,000 team members solely working on 5G networks. According to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), Huawei owns 4348 families of 5G essential patents, accounting for over 20% of the total, which places Huawei first among all vendors in terms of 5G patents. Each new generation of mobile communication technologies has clearly defined boundaries. The next 10 years, make no mistake, will be the decade of 5G.
Huawei already works with 85% of the world's top 20 oil and gas companies across 45 countries and regions with a long list of valued partners including the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Saudi Aramco, and TotalEnergies. In January, 2021, Huawei committed to a joint study with Saudi Aramco and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to investigate applications of 5G across the industry. This follows on from the joint innovation center that was inaugurated in 2015 in Saudi Arabia in collaboration with Saudi Aramco.
Together with industry partners, Huawei is driving the evolution of the oil and gas industry 4.0 using smart technology. By taking a digital approach to daily operations, security and safety are enhanced, all with increased productivity and lowered costs, enabling Huawei's partners to work more efficiently.
Huawei invites you to the seventh Huawei Global Oil & Gas Summit on 14 November 2021. The summit gathers together global customers, partners, media outlets, and analysts to discuss the theme "Drive Data to Barrel, Embrace Intelligence to Grow," diving into how digital transformation can promote high-quality development of the oil and gas industry and achieve sustainable development.
For more information, take a look at the summit website.
This article was originally published and edited by Smart Cities World. This article is an edited version of the original.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position, products, and technologies of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. If you need to learn more about the products and technologies of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., please visit our website at e.huawei.com or contact us.