Automation advancing in the oil and gas industry

Siemens’ Oil and Gas Innovations Conference in Houston highlighted developments in automation and data management products for an industry where few have upgraded aging technology and many struggle to be more efficient in an environment that demands it.


Raj Batra, president of Digital Factories for Siemens USA, speaks at the Siemens’ Oil and Gas Innovations Conference, encouraging use of automation to add reliability, visibility, and efficiency. Courtesy: CFE Media, Eric R. EisslerNow is the time for companies in the oil and gas industry to take a step back and look at systems, processes, technology, and equipment that need to be upgraded to increase efficiency in the field and at the refinery. Demand has dropped and oil prices have fallen, which means companies need to assess their facilities and upgrade them to save money and increase production. This was the main topic of the keynote speech by Raj Batra, president of Digital Factories for Siemens USA, at the Siemens Oil and Gas Innovations Conference in Houston.

Batra contrasted the oil and gas industry's struggles with the automotive industry and aerospace industries in terms of industry growth. 2014 was a stellar year for the automotive industry with 16.5 million vehicles produced—the most in nine years—and capacity utilization at 80%. Batra said this was due to automation and smart manufacturing, which helped the automotive industry save money and increase production. The aerospace industry is currently backlogged till about 2022 with orders with no signs of slowing down.

Batra outlined the challenges and the solutions the oil and gas industry currently faces:

  • Efficiency: The problem is manual methods don't scale. The solution is to integrate monitoring and control systems.
  • Visibility: The problem is manual localized standalone relay-based systems don't provide enough data. The solution is to operate with real-time data via wireless connectivity.
  • Reliability: The problem of unplanned downtime and environmental issues hinder production. The solution is to implement safety that is built in and not built on.

He added that aging automation assets in the U.S. are at the highest level since 1938. Batra asked, "If we don't feel comfortable with a smartphone for more than one year, how do we let an automation system become so dated?"

The time to upgrade is now. Doing this will allow the U.S. oil and gas industry to take off once prices come back up.

- Eric R. Eissler is the editor-in-chief of Oil & Gas Engineering,

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me