Mobility in the Oil and Gas Industry

Oil exploration and production is increasingly reliant on advanced satellite communications for keeping workers, data, and sites secure.

Oil exploration and production is increasingly reliant on advanced satellite communications for keeping workers, data, and sites secure.

Mobile technologies are critical to the future of the oil and gas industry, especially when the “office” is an offshore rig or a remote drilling site in the Bakken. With new drilling methods driving production levels to a 25 year high, oil and gas exploration companies are trying to find new ways to meet the demands of the digital oil field – and still save money. For one thing, they are embracing the benefits of providing SATCOM solutions to their employees. A survey of chief information officers in the oil and gas industry conducted by Oil and Gas IQ, ranked mobile technology second on a list of top ten priorities, with 55 percent of respondents indicating that mobile devices would enhance, if not greatly enhance, operations within the oil and gas sector. Among the many benefits, there are five key areas where mobile applications will bring the greatest advantage to the oil field.

Baker Hughes has provided rig counts to the oil industry since 1944 and recently created an app so the information is available on mobile devices.

1) Real Time Information:
With new methods for oil extraction increasing production, it’s essential that workers are able to analyze and monitor data in real time in efficient ways. Companies such as Baker Hughes and Halliburton have embraced the SATCOM trend and created business applications for this emerging market that enable workers to perform their daily tasks quickly from their smartphones or tablets. With a custom business application, employees can seamlessly log on to the app on their device and enter the information, eliminating the need for another piece of hardware on the jobsite and time spent connecting to the network. This will allow everyone in the organization to have access to this real-time information, instead of making decisions based on outdated data.

Utilize a smartphone for data capture

2) Data Capture:
Coordinating day-to-day operations can be very challenging when there are remote locations and field workers involved. In the oil and gas industry there are many hands that touch the information needed to make accurate decisions. There are field workers, managers, geologists, and more that are collecting different levels of information that needs to be seen across an organization. With a smartphone or tablet these individuals are able to collect accurate data and share this with the organization. The days of carrying around stacks of papers, or being chained to a pen and paper are long gone. Being able to capture this data in the field greatly reduces the chance for human error, the time spent entering the information into a CRM, and allows for complete visibility throughout the organization.

3) Location:
Location, Location, Location! Having access to location information may sound pretty simple, but this can drastically improve the processes at any oil and gas site. Headquarters can monitor field employees and keep track of their equipment through geolocation on a smartphone or tablet.  Geolocation is identification of the real-world geographic location of an object. Some companies are even going as far as to install radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on their vehicles and job sites. This is helpful in a number of scenarios, from being able to monitor where the fleet vehicles are in relation to the nearest job site, accounting for their workers in case of emergency, or rerouting workers in poor weather conditions. All of this information is accessible thanks to mobile devices.

4) Visibility:
Oil and gas companies have many layers of employees that need to have access to the same information.  These companies span the globe with remote worksites, both onshore and offshore, and pieces of the organization located in different countries. Headquarters can easily monitor production and make effective business decisions with this real-time data from anywhere in the world. Field employees now have the ability to upload invoices when jobs are completed, which adds another layer of productivity and efficiency throughout the organization. No longer does accounting need to wait for employees to return from a jobsite to log this information. This also enables part of the organization to go paperless, which reduces cost and increases efficiency. Traditionally, these applications couldn’t send off real-time data outside of cell coverage.

5) Maintenance:
When your car breaks down you call for roadside assistance; but what do you do when your service vehicle or rig breaks down hundreds of miles away from the nearest town, and outside of cellular coverage? Mobile technology allows employees to contact technicians to trouble shoot any issues they may be experiencing and get their systems back up and running. Having the ability to connect remotely not only protects the machinery at the job site, but it protects the workers as well. Safety and security are top priorities, if there is an accident supervisors can take immediate actions to get help.

Read the case study: "Reliable, Next-Generation Communications Save Time and Money for Gore Nitrogen Pumping Service"
Read the case study: “Reliable, Next-Generation Communications
Save Time and Money for Gore Nitrogen
Pumping Service”

These are just a few of the benefits of being able to connect the pieces of an oil and gas exploration enterprise. Billions are spent researching, developing, and implementing new methods for drilling, manufacturing, and production, yet the processes to run these infrastructures traditionally have relied on pen and paper. With new communications technology, the biggest benefit is being able to access important business information from any device, anytime, anywhere, and making this visible to everyone in the organization conveniently on a mobile friendly app. Analysts estimate that half of all business applications will be accessed with mobile devices over the next couple years, according to Martin Gunnarsson, director of research and strategy for IFS World Operations. “And, just like every evolution, each step forward relies on the previous step.”

With KVH, the M.A.N. brings connectivity to remote field operations.
Use KVH’s solutions to create a Mobile Area Network (M.A.N.) to bring connectivity to remote field operations.

In order to benefit from a mobile strategy, all of these key areas need an internet connection to function. What happens to your mobility strategy when you are outside of cell coverage or away from the job shack? Absolutely nothing when you create a Mobile Area Network (M.A.N.) with a TracPhone V3-IP system from KVH!

New SATCOM solution for the era of onboard networking: KVH's TracPhone V3-IP with a streamlined belowdecks Integrated CommBox Modem.
New SATCOM solution for the era of onboard networking: KVH’s TracPhone V3-IP with an Integrated CommBox Modem.

The KVH TracPhone V3-IP is mobile, works in-motion, and can keep your field teams connected on or anywhere around the job site.  The compact size of the TracPhone V3-IP is perfect for quick deployment and/or applications that need connectivity that have had trouble finding a suitable system in the past. TracPhone V3-IP’s powerful belowdecks unit, the Integrated CommBox Modem (ICM), and built in Wi-Fi access point turns any vehicle into a Wi-Fi hot spot allowing workers the ability to transmit and receive data from their smart phones or tablets anywhere in the continental USA.  This truly unique product is changing the way oil and gas companies access data in remote locations making their field operations more efficient and safe with a touch of a single button.  Stay ahead of the competition with a mobility strategy that includes a KVH TracPhone V3-IP.  Investing in a mobile strategy is necessary to optimize operations and stay ahead of the competition in the oil and gas industry.

About Ken Lokey 4 Articles
KVH National Sales Manager, based in Middletown, RI