Oil and gas sector has come a long way from workers facing unbearable conditions in remote rigs to automated ease. After all, it had time and again faced harsh criticism for the same. Similarly, with the governments across the middle east insisting on keeping a check on the carbon emission, there is more focus on renewable energy. These steps are a long time coming. The cherry on the cake is that smart technological presence is given precedence. Oil rigs are no longer restricted to desert nations. Advancement of technology, especially in IoT (Internet of Things) field, has digitalized the whole industry. None more so than Subsea wells located Offshore (Within the sea). They are the new hotbeds for oil extraction.
What is the process of offshore subsea oil extraction?
Isnâ€™t it sad that we know more about the surface of the moon and Mars than our deep-sea trenches? Advancement in offshore oil rigs is not sudden but a strategic occurrence â€” unmanned remote access helping one in the oil extraction process. The compact pressure under the sea is painful for humans to withstand; hence, since 1896, technology involved was tweaked. A systematic smart advancement that made it possible for further exploration of natural oils under the sea bed. Similar in nature to its land-based cousins, borewells styled equipment are used offshore too. Once the drilling has taken place, and the setup is ready to produce oil, â€œChristmas trees" come in to play.
Subsea Christmas trees (big sized machinery with valves, spools, and fittings to regulate the pipe and oil and gas intake-output) have helped increase and control the flow of the oil. This technological wonderment has exceeded expectations. Vertical in design these Christmas trees process and store information of the facilities shared by the linked oil rig under the sea and connected to a third device called riser which ties the oil well and the Christmas tree together.
Subsea Christmas Trees: A testament of Technological Growth
Automation is no longer restricted to â€˜switch on/switch offâ€™. With reconditioned Christmas trees and a working manifold system in place, retrofitted IoT enabled sensors can ensure streamlining of output. They can also monitor any unplanned surge of oil-based fluids or gasses from the subsea reservoir back to the rig. This phenomenon of heavy flow is known as a kick and can be hazardous to the lives of the rig employees on the surface.
These Christmas trees are also known as BOP (Blow Out Preventer) stacks. They help eradicate any inbuilt pressure that can hamper the placement of the pipes. The massive system of the valves and rams help protect the rig and the environment from any oil and gas flow leak. Flammable hydrocarbons can find ignition sources once it manages to travel on to the surface. A basic setup ensures that no hazardous leakage is involved. After all, an uncontrollable release of flammable oil and gas can be catastrophic.
IoT plays a crucial role in the prevention of the catastrophe, as mentioned above. Smart sensors are placed on â€˜Blind shear ramsâ€™ that clinch the pipeline shut once it detects the massive flow of gasses and oil-based liquids. These automated system rigs can be activated manually or via preset parameters.
IoT has helped bridge the gap between innovations and implementations. With the help of AMF (Automatic Mode Function) Deadman switches, one can be sure that prevention will always take precedence. With smart parameters in place, it can be triggered to act in the case of extreme catastrophe. Designed to act when electric power, hydraulic pressure inside the pipes and communication between the Christmas tree and the oil rig collapses.
Such smart solutions often play a big role in saving lives and preventing the spillage of oil on oceanic surfaces. Keeping in mind the tragic oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico, technological advances are crucial for a greener future.
Sensors and solutions are turn key technologies in ensuring that there are no more chances of oil endangering the lives of the millions of crustaceans, fish and other marine lives. The very purpose of IoT is getting devices to communicate with each other. What better use than in saving our natural resources?