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ConocoPhillips Using RFID for Offshore Rig Worker Safety

ConocoPhillips installed an active RFID system from IDENTEC Solutions to provide real-time location data for employees working on oil drilling platforms off the coast of Norway. Location data is available on the rigs and at mainland locations to help rescue workers find employees in an emergency.
Jul 17, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 17, 2008—Active RFID tags are tracking workers on oil rigs off the coast of Norway in an environment that is challenging for the technologies and workers alike. ConocoPhillips has installed approximately 200 long-range readers at its Ekofisk Complex on the Norwegian continental shelf in the North Sea so it can track worker locations and identities at all times.

"The data is stored both off-shore and on-shore. In case of emergency ConocoPhillips can monitor the location of its personnel from an on-shore office," Frank Wehus of IDENTEC Solutions told RFID Update. IDENTEC provided its WATCHERSERIES system to ConocoPhillips for the project. The WATCHERSERIES includes active RFID tags that workers wear, readers, and system software. IDENTEC provided 4,000 tags to ConocoPhillips, and Wehus estimates 800 to 1,100 are in use and tracked at any given time.

The high metal content of the rigs, moisture from the ocean, required coverage area, and strict requirements for electronic device construction and emissions made it challenging to install a real-time tracking system. Tuning the readers to cover specific zones and provide accurate readings was especially challenging, according to Wehus.

"With the amount of readers needed to cover the facility, some have to be tuned down to provide good coverage in a zone," Wehus said. "Some are tuned to read very close, about five to ten meters, and others are reading from about 100 meters."

WATCHERSERIES software integrates RFID readings with electronic facility maps to provide real-time information on the location of each tag. In a drill or actual emergency, administrators on the rig or at an on-shore office can quickly view lists of workers at gathering points, and receive alerts about missing workers with their location data.

IDENTEC provides similar systems to other offshore facilities, mines, and other hazardous and secure environments. Wehus heads the company's oil, gas and mining industry efforts and estimates the WATCHERSERIES has been installed at 40 facilities.

See the IDENTEC announcement.
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