Use of digital technologies to minimize emissions in the oil and gas industry

The oil and gas sector is experiencing a period of significant change resulting from the long-term effects of the pandemic, global efforts to contain emissions and the rapid spread of digitalization in industries. In such a climate, questions arise about how industry members can introduce digital tools to optimize operations and reduce emissions as well as operating costs.

Rocsole hopes to be the answer to such questions, and the Finnish group offers companies solutions to predict deep learning and “tomographic imaging” to gain a better understanding of operational issues, helping to avoid unplanned outages and supporting automated, digital and unmanned platforms.

Scarlett Evans (SE): How have environmental issues affected the oil and gas industry, and what challenges are currently facing in reducing operational emissions?

Mika Tienhaara (Montana): The largest share of carbon emissions, of course, comes from the combustion of fossil fuels. Until we can replace oil and gas production, we need to minimize their simple burning. We should only use them for more advanced products where we still have a way to develop and commercialize alternatives.

Fossil fuel combustion, unjustified emissions, and ventilation due to faulty equipment, leaks, and lack or limited knowledge (lack of data) form the largest source of emissions from upstream activities. Depending on the exact type of source, emissions from them are in the range of 40% -50%, and due to lack of data and digitized workflows there is a greater risk of failure. Therefore, it is in this area that digital solutions are needed to significantly reduce emissions.

Examples of faulty process equipment include multiphase separators that are at risk of failure due to lack of understanding. Multiphase separators in many mature operations can deal with sand mining, which can lead to erosion, corrosion and leakage. Having the right data is the starting point to avoid these glitches.

Another example where data and reports are critical is for pipelines – which is why we commercialize the AI ​​tool to provide the industry with better opportunities to detect anomalies and problems that could otherwise lead to operational problems.

SE: Has the pandemic changed the way companies deal with unplanned downtime?

MT: The pandemic has had a different impact on operation – from personal experience I would say that decisions on operational maintenance activities have been delayed over time. Decision making is difficult; remember that for maintenance you need to have the time and resources on site to perform maintenance. I believe this has led to the fact that management has had to prioritize what is considered essential service, and postpone other activities to later.

At the same time, unplanned outages are critical. If some of the main causes of unscheduled maintenance are the result of installation and equipment failures as well as manual processes, it means that unplanned outages lead to more fire fighting these times.

SE: How do digital solutions help companies solve these problems?

MT: Seeing how manual reports and current workflows lead to a lack of data and information sharing, it is important for companies to digitize these processes and ensure good data sharing. In this way, operational management can be improved.

Prognostic maintenance and automated condition monitoring can also reduce planned activities and extend mileage, improving stability and reducing emissions. Advanced analytics allows you to get the next level of energy efficiency by isolating operating parameters that minimize power per unit capacity.

Looking at the data from the operational database (for example, operations in the North Sea), you can find amazing information, for example, the main cause of critical failures of technological equipment due to a faulty device – it’s more than 50%. While this is a significant figure, it’s not surprising given operating environments. Working with large amounts of waste, unwanted liquids (water, emulsions) and contaminants can lead to malfunction of existing appliances.

Such in-depth ideas are only possible if you get data from individual operations – big data analytics may not always give the same idea of ​​how to work.

SE: What is a CT scan and how can it help streamline surgery?

MT: Roscole electrical tomography is a technology that generates a distribution of electrical properties in the target area of ​​interest and provides image visualization. This allows Rocsole to provide solutions that see inside important equipment such as pipelines and separator tanks to reduce downtime and optimize the company’s production.

SE: Your company recently raised $ 5 million to commercialize your digital AI tools – what’s the next step in that process?

MT: The purpose of the fundraiser was to support our plans for scalability and growth. We are currently working on the implementation and execution of the plan with certain stages for this year.

These mobile devices are used to detect deposits in pipelines. They have been designed and widely trained in multi-layered neural networks with deep learning, allowing you to perform calculations very quickly and reduce time for data analysis and reporting; what today may take a few weeks with existing technology, we aim to reduce to a few minutes. This will allow customers to reduce maintenance costs and reduce operational risks.

SE: What role do you think digital solutions play in the future of the oil and gas industry?

MT: As for digital solutions, we expect that the right critical data will be integrated into the automation process and business solutions. We need to reduce the risks of technology deployment by sharing examples of success with colleagues and demonstrating how scaling technology delivers value at the portfolio level.

Due to important operational challenges at hand, there is a great need for innovation and collaboration to improve efficiency, and studies and reports show that a 10% increase in efficiency leads to a 4% reduction in overall emissions.

The mood needs to change, oil and gas operators need to be bold, they need to think about how they can become low-carbon leaders. I believe this will also lead them to a new era of business opportunities.

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