Excerpt From Oil and Gas Product News, September/October 2014:
Video monitoring simplifies site surveillance needs - by Andrew Topf, Associate Editor
The remote nature of oil and gas operations has generated a range of devices that detect, track and transmit information at wellheads and and pipelines to offices sometimes thousands of kilometres away. Advances in remote-monitoring instrumentation have increased safety and reliability of equipment, and also cut down on in-person visits, significantly lowering operational costs.
This subset of the industry is growing fast. According to Berg Insight, a Swedish research firm, 423,000 devices are currently connected to machine-to-machine (M2M) networks in the oil and gas sector, with that number expected to triple in the next four years.
Trudy Curtis, chief executive officer of the Petroleum Data Management Association, outs it this way, as quoted in a recent article by New Technology Magazine: "AI (artificial intelligence) can be used fro a multitude of uses. Oilfields have a huge amount of equipment. Monitors can keep track of usage and wear and tear. When a module is reaching the end of its expected life, AI can flag its replacement or refurbishment before it fails."
One aspect of AI that is proving especially important to oil and gas companies is the ability to continuously watch their operations. Osprey Informatics, a Calgary-based technology company, has developed a visual monitoring system that pulls together video surveillance feeds from remote sites. Embedded software runs analytics on the feeds, which identify abnormalities that may be a safety concern, or patterns that could be of economic value. The cameras connect to the Internet via cellular networks; the systems are not restricted by the number of sites or the distance between them.
In business since 2011, Osprey's current customer base includes some big players in the oil and gas business.
"All of these different oil and gas companies, whether they're in upstream, downstream, or midstream, they all have the same challenges. Their sites are spread out all over the place, they have critical infrastructure, and there are a lot of stakeholders interested in their uninterrupted operation," said Michael von Hauff, Osprey's CEO.
Von Hauff said their Osprey Reach visual monitoring platform offers advantages over traditional video surveillance cameras found at many large and small businesses. Significantly, operators do no need to go through reams of footage to identify an abnormality; when something changes, the software identifies the change and begins transmitting images. Second, Osprey's network of cameras is made for viewing by operations staff, not just security personnel.
"Traditional security systems are very much about centralizing access and control of the system to as few people as possible whereas our products are about getting the information out to as many people as possible, " says von Hauff.
Third, regular video surveillance cameras do not have the capability of adjusting for severe bandwidth limitations, which are commonplace at remote drilling and production sites.
"Traditional systems are all about streaming as much video as you can get to a giant hard drive or database an just save it or letting people watch it in real time. The reality is, in oil and gas, most of these sites don't have broadband or fibre optics going to them," von Hauff said.
Osprey's camera systems can work on high-bandwidth Internet connections, but more commonly tap into the cellular or satellite networks found in remote locations. This makes them more reliable. Also, Osprey Reach intelligently selects which imagery to transmit from the site, rather than streaming all video via expensive cellular or satellite connections. Images and video are stored in the cloud, providing virtually unlimited space for video footage and easy, secure access.
Lastly, Osprey Reach does not require integration into a client's IT system, or any installation of software. Osprey's native software is compatible with all analog and most IP cameras, and can run on all Web browsers including those found on mobile devices. Users are assigned a login and password and pay a subscription fee, which includes technical support.
Von Hauff said along with monitoring site activity, the cameras can be used for equipment inspections. "We have a number of sites where there's no security concerns for whatever reason, but they use the system to inspect equipment remotely. At some sites it may only save them three trips a month, others it saves them two trips a week," he said. (...)
Full article available in Oil and Gas Product News, digital edition, page 14.