What Are Some Common Uses of RFID in the Oil and Gas Sector?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsWhat Are Some Common Uses of RFID in the Oil and Gas Sector?
RFID Journal Staff asked 10 years ago

Please provide some examples.

—Name withheld


There are many different applications of RFID in the oil and gas sector. In fact, RFID Journal will host an RFID in Energy, Mining and Construction event in Perth, Australia, on Aug. 12-13, 2014. Here are some of the applications that will be highlighted at that event, several of which involve BP:

Monitoring Pipe Corrosion
BP is using a system provided by Permasense that enables the oil company to monitor pipe thickness at its refineries worldwide (see BP Uses RFID Sensors to Track Pipe Corrosion).

Managing Maintenance
BP also uses RFID for scheduled maintenance of refineries. Before some work can be done, the designated section of the plant must be shut down, purged of hydrocarbons and allowed to cool. This ensures that there are no lingering pockets of hydrocarbons or other explosive or flammable materials. Each part of the refinery is isolated from connected equipment, in order to prevent material from one part of the facility from entering another. These isolations involve a number of processes, including disconnecting pipes at the flanges (the components that connect the pipes) and fitting blinds (large metal discs) into the flanges. This effectively shuts off the pipes so engineers can tackle the maintenance work safely. What makes the task so challenging is that the isolations must take place in a specific sequence, and blinds must be matched to specific pipe flanges. A shut down might require 6,400 isolations. BP is using RFID to manage this process (see BP Refines Maintenance Operations).

Managing Construction Projects
BP is employing a combined solution utilizing radio frequency identification and GPS technologies to track every component that it ships from its European warehouses to South Korea, as part of a $10 billion project to build a new offshore oil platform for use in the North Sea (see RFID, GPS Bring Visibility to Construction of BP Oil Platform).

Managing Evacuations During Emergencies
BP Cherry Point, BP's oil refinery in Cherry Point, Washington, uses an RFID-based personnel-tracking system to ascertain the whereabouts of 2,000 staff members, contractors and visitors. The refinery, one of the largest in Washington State, produces 3.5 million gallons of gasoline, 2.5 million gallons of jet fuel and 2.2 million gallons of diesel fuel daily. Under the new tracking system, all employees, contractors and visitors at BP Cherry Point will wear RFID-enabled badges in the refinery's processing area, tank farm and docks, allowing BP operators to determine where they are in the event of an emergency, such as a fire or explosion (see BP Refinery Uses RFID for Evacuation System).

Managing Logistics
Edison Chouest Offshore's C-Logistics division, a provider of integrated supply-management solutions for drilling, production and construction projects, is using RFID at its facility in Port Fourchon, La., to improve customer service delivery and processing times, as well as inventory accuracy for vendor staging areas. The system is intended to provide a more efficient, reliable delivery of goods to oil drillers in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as reduce costs by making the location and status of rented equipment—such as pipes, valves or generators—available in real time. In that way, for example, if a piece of equipment returns from an offshore rig, Edison Chouest Offshore knows about it right away and can return the items before incurring excess charges (see RFID Saves Oil Companies Time and Money).

Downhole Applications
Drilling reamers are specialized tools used by oil and gas companies to bore holes through earth at extremely high speeds. Conventional reamers offer reliable service, but the mechanical method of activating and deactivating the tool—dropping a steel ball down a drill string, or pipe, until it shears a pin preset at the surface—offers limited control. To reset the tool, a user must pull the reamer out of the hole, which is a time-consuming and costly exercise. What's more, the ball can interfere with other tools operating inside the drill string. In 2010, Weatherford, a Switzerland-based multinational oilfield services firm, introduced its RipTide drilling reamer, which provides a simple, reliable method of activating and deactivating drilling reamers at any given time during a downhole (in the well) operation. Weatherford accomplished this functionality by building radio frequency identification technology directly into the tool design. Greater control of tool actuation allows operators to enhance drilling and complex maintenance processes, as well as improve borehole quality (see Oilfield Services Company Embeds RFID in Drilling Reamers).

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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