The Wellsite of the Future, Today: Mitigating Safety Hazards and Risk

by | Oct 22, 2021 | Measurement Instrumentation, Oil & Gas

Brandon Bromberek

Vice President Oil & Gas, Measurement Solutions

Offshore oil and gas process which treat raw gas and condensate before sent to onshore refinery and petrochemical plant, Power and energy business.

How can digital transformation improve safety at the wellsite? In our latest post exploring the wellsite of the future, we’re going to talk about how state-of-the-art technologies like wireless connectivity, cloud-based software platforms, and automation tools can help prevent accidents and catastrophes at the wellsite. Operators have the complex task of balancing productivity with safeguarding against risk, always keeping safety in mind as a top priority.

In our ongoing investigation of what the wellsite of the future can be, we’ve identified a few critical ways these forward-thinking solutions enable a safer wellsite for our customers. One element is making it easier to keep personnel away from hazards altogether. Another integral approach is empowering your workforce to be better prepared when something goes wrong in the field. Yet another lies in utilizing these innovative solutions to prevent disasters in the first place. Everything ties together and enables our customers to build a safer wellsite than ever before. After all, if we’re not making it easier for operators to ensure the safety and well-being of their most valuable asset, their people, then are we really fulfilling the promise of the wellsite of the future?

Less Time in the Field = Less Risk Overall

The wellsite itself is hazardous and physically being there always involves some level of risk. During the well construction phase, the well site is full of heavy equipment like trucks, tanks, and drilling rigs—and we tend to be on heightened focus with these physical hazards staring us in the face. Later, with the rig and other heavy equipment moved offsite and the well now on production, the dangers can be more subtle. Unexpectedly high pressures from a leak at the wellhead, manifold, or separator could put field engineers in danger as they troubleshoot the issue. Materials at the site can be corrosive or caustic, and time spent manually handling equipment exposes workers to these hazards. Any tools that facilitate automation mean less time spent in the field and less risk overall.

A great example of this is the Micro Motion 5700 Transmitter with built-in wifi/ethernet connectivity. This next-generation Coriolis flow transmitter is designed to handle critical applications at the wellsite and offer flexible outputs such as ethernet, Foundation Fieldbus, and traditional analog. In the past, if a field technician needed to go to the wellsite to troubleshoot an issue, they would have to hard connect with a cable to their laptop to run diagnostics. With a Field-Mount Micro Motion 5700 WiFi Transmitter, your engineer would not even have to leave their vehicle to pull the necessary data down from the transmitter.

Another safety factor that many tend to forget about is the hazard of travel itself. The roads on the way to an oil patch are surprisingly lively. Vehicles and trucks drive significant distances, racking up miles 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Traffic doesn’t stop when the sun sets. This kind of travel can wear drivers down, and fatigued drivers make accidents more likely. Digitalization brings with it so many benefits, but cutting down on the sheer amount of time and resources going to and from the field through remote information monitoring is definitely one of the most underrated.

When Connectivity Boosts Preparedness

If something has gone wrong at the wellsite, whether it’s a simple gauge malfunction or a major leak in your production tubing, knowing what you’re up against ahead of time will invariably lead to a safer outcome. Why? Safety risks are consistently elevated when something is going awry. When a technician is in the mode of troubleshooting, they are stepping outside the bounds of normal operating conditions, and the chances of injury during an unplanned incident go up. The old way of stumbling blind into an issue and rushing to find a fix is perilous and risky.

Instrumentation and diagnostics are available now that can give operators insight into process conditions at the wellsite from the safety of the control room, the office, or better yet—on their laptop, mobile device, or tablet, wherever they are. If a separator malfunctions, for example, remote connection to a level device will tell you that you have sand buildup in the separator before a technician walks out the door. We have already mentioned the cost savings in eliminating unnecessary trips to manually check equipment in the field. Not only does this save countless labor hours, but your workers will already know the issue that needs fixing, have the necessary tools, and be mentally prepared to make the right calls once they reach the wellsite.

Trustworthy Tank Overfill Prevention

Enhancing the safety and reliability of oil and gas instrumentation is a critical focus for anyone aiming to develop technology and tools for the wellsite of the future. One specific area that benefits from these advancements is overfill prevention. Overfills are one of the leading causes of serious accidents in the industry, so it makes sense that technology solutions are racing to meet the need for better level safety devices. Also, tank gauging solutions need to meet safety and environmental standards like the IEC 60511 and IEC 61508 for Safety Instrumented Systems and SIL compliance.

The Rosemount Tank Gauging System is a portfolio of industry-leading technologies for tank overfill prevention and safety—and the recent release of the Rosemount TankMaster™ Mobile suite allows for access to this information wherever you have connectivity. The novel design of our Rosemount 5900S has two radar gauges in one housing for independent level and overfill measurement. It is SIL 2 and SIL 3 certified, so it meets rigorous IEC 61508 standards and enables API 2350 compliant solutions. We’ll talk more about the potential for meeting compliance standards as they evolve over time in the next, and final, installment of our series on the wellsite of the future.

Safety is perhaps the most important element at the wellsite as it encompasses the well-being of your personnel, your equipment, and your production. Digitalization is making it easier than ever to mitigate risks in the field, and these technologies and their many benefits are ready to be embraced today.

To learn more about our oil and gas solutions, please visit us at www.emerson.com/oilandgas.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.