Shifting Operations to the Edge in the Oil and Gas Industry


Edge computing provides energy leaders with unmatched improvements in operational responsiveness and efficiency and therefore increases profitability.

Data is constantly being collected every second of the day in every corner of the world. AI and analytics help turn big data into insights, and the oil and gas industry is catching up to the trend.

In order to have full visibility into operations, the oil and gas industry is now dependent on 24/7 data communication. In addition to that, a study by MIT found that only 0.5% of all data is ever analyzed. While the amount of data generated by oil and gas platforms could be overwhelming, this surge presents new opportunities for energy leaders to modernize their IT infrastructure.

Edge computing solutions have become essential for oil and gas companies that are working to decarbonize both operations and value chains as the industry navigates an energy transition.

This energy transition is slowly moving oil and gas companies into the power generation and distribution space, with big and promising projects such as carbon capture and storage and green hydrogen.

In order to utilize the valuable data that companies are accruing upstream, midstream, or downstream, oil and gas operators must shift their operations to the edge to reduce latency, reduce data storage, lower transmission costs, and increase efficiency. The remote location of operations coupled with harsh operating environment and a massive volume of generated data make the oil and gas industry ideal for the use of micro data centers for edge computing.

See also: Oil and Gas Cloud Applications Exploding by 2026

Operations transitioning from the cloud to the edge

Edge computing is a valuable solution as it alleviates bandwidth within the central network by storing data at the edge of the IT infrastructure. Rather than offloading to cloud data centers, edge computing enables data processing with minimal to no latency, making it highly optimized for resource efficiency.

Shifting operations to the edge serves as a key enabler of a digital-first paradigm. This approach allows organizations to not only monitor an operational network but store and process operational data locally as well. In addition to increasing data efficiency and resilience, edge computing is also being used to optimize new technologies within the oil and gas industry, such as drone-based inspection of power lines and pipelines, which enables data-driven decision-making to take measures that ultimately reduce operational costs.

Cost reduction of IT infrastructure

Reducing operational costs has become a top priority for the oil and gas industry as it continues to face hurdles involving geopolitical conditions and volatile commodity prices. By integrating edge solutions, the processing of data is brought closer to where the data is inevitably produced, such as on the drilling platform or in the field. Edge computing ensures cost savings by lowering the network bandwidth and reducing data center costs.

Unplanned shutdowns are yet another challenge that companies are faced with. According to an MIT Sloan Study, a single day of downtime for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility can cost $25 million, with a typical midsize LNG facility decreasing about five times a year. However, edge computing can prevent these unplanned and costly shutdowns by reducing the processing burden on central IT infrastructure by distributing it over multiple processing centers.

Factors to take into consideration with new industrial edge computing solutions 

The advantages of edge computing haven’t gone unnoticed, which is why we are seeing an increase in deployments across industries. However, the decision to shift operations to the edge requires a few considerations before moving forward. In the early stages of edge planning, companies must include resilient power and connectivity resources to help reduce the risk of downtime.

It is critical for edge computing sites to be designed with resilience. Such factors to guarantee resiliency include environmental separation from risks like water or fire, cooling infrastructure to control temperature and humidity, and a reliable power source like a UPS to ensure backup power to the equipment.

Additionally, the monitoring and maintenance of edge infrastructure assets must be prioritized to ensure business continuity. Edge resources should be equipped to support autonomous operation and continuous remote monitoring. This requires O&G companies to commit personnel or outsource the monitoring and proactive maintenance services to identify and correct certain issues before they occur.

Ultimately, edge computing provides energy leaders with unmatched improvements in operational responsiveness and efficiency and therefore increases profitability. Energy companies that take advantage of all that edge computing solutions have to offer will see increased sustainability, more efficient performance, and an increase in profitability while simultaneously empowering employees through connected technologies and capabilities.

Eli Daccach

About Eli Daccach

Eli Daccach is currently the Global Business Development Leader within the Secure Power division of Schneider Electric, focusing on Industrial Segments. He has been with the company since 2011, working in Canada for the Industrial Automation business unit, in various roles such as automation specialist, applications engineer, and team leader for motion offers, before moving to the US and joining the Energy Management business unit as a Strategic Marketing Manager for Industrial Edge Computing and Data Centers. Eli holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and an MBA in Marketing.

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