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Oil Industry Forms RFID Group to Aid Adoption

The Oil & Gas RFID Solution Group announced it has formed to develop process and technology standards to support RFID adoption in the petroleum and natural gas industries. The organization is evaluating use cases and technology requirements for both internal and supply chain operations.
Jul 21, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 21, 2008—The Oil & Gas RFID Solution Group announced its formation this week to develop best practices and standards for using RFID in the oil and gas industries. The group includes representatives from RFID companies, academic institutions and end-user organizations. Members have been working together since early in the year, Konrad Konarski of founding member company Merlin Concepts & Technology told RFID Update.

"We are seeing increased RFID activity in the oil & gas industry," said Sam Falsafi of Shipcom Wireless, another founding member of the Oil & Gas RFID Solution Group. "A lot of times the oil industry has been a laggard in technology adoption. Now the industry is at a point where it needs technology to sustain its growth." The current high demand for oil is intensifying pressure on producers to pump, refine and distribute as quickly and efficiently as possible, Falsafi said.

The Oil & Gas RFID Solution Group was formed to investigate how RFID could improve operations throughout the industry, including internal and supply chain processes. Members include researchers at Texas A&M University and the University of Houston, RFID firms Avery Dennison, Merlin, Motorola and Shipcom Wireless. RFID standards body EPCglobal is also working with the group. The Oil & Gas RFID Solution Group website lists no end-user members, but Konarksi said six large, multinational user companies are actively participating and he expects they will officially announce their involvement soon.

The group is working simultaneously to identify best practices for using RFID and to identify appropriate technologies and data standards to support them, Konarski said. The coordinated effort could also lead to RFID hardware and software products developed specifically for oil and gas operations, which frequently feature high-temperature, high-pressure environments with corrosive chemicals.

"A lot of packaged solutions out there aren't designed or optimized for the environment," Konarski said. "As a community we can tell the RFID industry what is needed, instead of having our users contact solution providers to ask what they have available and seeing if it works."

Konarski said companies in the oil and gas industries already use RFID for various applications, and larger organizations have roadmaps that outline how they could expand their use of the technology. Industry collaboration on standards could help align these project and technology roadmaps with commercial technology development.

"There are many processes that are scalable and repeatable for many companies in the industry," Konarski said.

Some of the group's initial efforts focus on facilitating the use of RFID to set up and maintain drilling rigs. Konarski said this is a good starting point because it can leverage developments in passive UHF technology and serialization standards. Tejas Tubular Products, which provides drilling pipe to oilfields, previously announced it was tracking products with passive UHF technology and benefiting from improved traceability (see RFID Keeps WIP Well-Oiled for Oilfield Products Maker). The group is also looking at other asset management, safety and security, and supply chain visibility use cases, according to Konarski. He expects the group to begin announcing more specific details about its activities in a few months.
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