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In recent years, the oil and gas industry has been under intense pressure to cut costs, manage demand volatility, improve operational sustainability, and increase competitiveness. The industry has also experienced an explosion in data generation across all upstream and downstream operations. According to a Cisco research, a single offshore oil platform generates two terabytes of data daily. For all that data to help address business and sustainability challenges, it must be quickly captured, consolidated, stored, and analyzed. A distributed approach to managing this new data, called edge computing, is now being looked upon as a potential solution.
How this new influx of data is processed has emerged as a critical success factor. At first, many considered processing the data in the cloud. However, most industry stakeholders have come to recognize that processing data locally (as opposed to only in the cloud) can present numerous business advantages. New solutions, such as micro data centers and prefabricated modular data centers, offer the oil and gas companies new edge computing alternatives. Edge computing enables processing at greater speeds and volumes in remote areas. For example, data can be processed more quickly at remote oil exploration and drilling sites and oil and gas distribution pipelines, allowing the operators to drive faster, more profitable business decisions.
Benefits of edge computing for oil and gas
There are four primary reasons why many oil and gas companies are embracing edge computing:
- Bandwidth savings – The speed of data transfer is often dependent upon the bandwidth of the networking equipment. Data transfer rates can become expensive if data volumes are high when uploading and downloading data to and from the cloud. Edge computing drastically reduces this cost as most of the data is captured and processed locally.
- Latency reduction – Latency is the time between the moment a data packet is transmitted to the moment it reaches its destination (one way) and returns (round trip). Excessive latency creates traffic jams that prevent data from filling the network to capacity. The impact of latency on network bandwidth can be temporary (lasting a few seconds) like a traffic light or constant like a single-lane bridge. When edge computing is deployed, very few latency issues occur because the data is analyzed locally instead of sent up and back from the cloud.
- Reliability enhancement – Edge computing allows the operation of data processing even when the internet or the cloud connection is disrupted. This enhanced reliability drastically reduces downtime, particularly in remote locations, contributing to higher profitability.
- Cybersecurity and data privacy – Since edge computing systems are distributed, it becomes much easier to segment an edge network from a cybersecurity perspective. The network layer is critical to protect because it’s where devices communicate and turn data into information that facilitates accurate and fast decisions. The edge architecture enables the implementation of cybersecurity so that the data captured remains private and protected from unauthorized third parties.
Edge computing solutions can also support the energy transition
As regulators, shareholders and customers press the oil and gas industry to be more sustainable, many companies are investing and transitioning their operations to renewable energies. This includes devoting a growing portion of their budgets to low-carbon energy sources such as offshore wind farms, solar plants, and green hydrogen plants.
Green hydrogen plants, for instance, offer an up-and-coming alternative, since it uses renewables to generate hydrogen from water, without emitting greenhouse gasses. Hydrogen electrolyzers require a constant supply of power so when wind and sun are not available, an industrial UPS is needed to keep the hydrogen production going.
BP Plc and Total Energies SE are leading this race, with huge projects aiming to install gigawatts of solar and wind farms over thousands of square miles, and use the electricity generated to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. That hydrogen fuel can be used as a green energy source to power trucks, trains, and planes. The exhaust that gets produced through the usage of hydrogen fuel is H2O or water. Hydrogen fuel can potentially play a significant role in addressing the current CO2 emissions-driven climate crisis.
Edge computing systems can play an important role in supporting data collection, consolidation, and analysis to improve operational and hydrogen production efficiencies. Pre-configured and pre-tested micro data centers can be quickly delivered to offer the IT computing capacity, physical enclosure protection, power protection, environmental monitoring software, and security needed to deploy rapidly and easily.
Edge computing resources
Learn more about how edge computing can improve data processing, resilience, and sustainability needs in the oil and gas industry, visit our edge computing solution site.