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Robotics in the oil and gas industry

The use of robotics in the oil and gas industry is still relatively new and it has added an exciting new element to the market. As non-conventional methods of oil and gas extraction are sought, the future of the industry is very much interconnected with the advancement of new technology.

Robotics in the Oil and Gas industry

But why is Special Piping Materials taking a particular interest in this aspect of the market? Understanding our clients’ needs is a big part of ensuring that we are providing the best possible service to them. One way we do this is by keeping on top of all the latest developments and advances in the industries we supply.

The Oil & Gas industry is a fast-paced market and is constantly diversifying and expanding so by better understanding the industry, we will better understand our clients. Subsequently, we can anticipate what products they need and what environments our products will have to endure.

The strength of our client relationships is something that we are very much known for. By keeping abreast of the developments and changes within their industries, we hope to better support their schemes and take our service to the next level.

Read on to get an up-to-date overview of robotics in the oil and gas industry and what the future holds for this forward-thinking sub-sector.


Overview of robotics in the oil and gas industry

One of the biggest trends in the oil and gas industry in recent years has been the increasing migration to offshore production. This movement has made it necessary for companies to explore different techniques of reducing operational costs, increasing efficiencies, improving productivity, prioritising safety and maximising profit.

Traditionally, the oil and gas market hasn’t been at the forefront of the robotics industry. However, the figures and statistics provide evidence that the use of robotics in the oil and gas industry is one of the biggest ways in which these objectives have been met across all of the upstream, midstream and downstream markets.

Another factor in the increasing use of robotics in the oil and gas industry is safety. By harnessing the abilities of remotely-controlled robotics, companies are able to remove humans from both potentially dangerous (due to hostile and unpredictable weather conditions) and repetitive tasks.

Due to the high-risk nature of the oil and gas industry, it is generally considered that only the most advanced technologies, latest software and safest mechanical devices will be utilised.

In a 2017 report, Frost & Sullivan highlighted the growing importance of drones and robots in the oil and gas sector for inspection and surveillance work. The market intelligence firm commented that: “It is highly likely that in the future, oil and gas operations will be autonomously run by robots, replacing field workers. With the combined effort of drones and robots, upstream operational cost can be significantly reduced. The drone and robotic market has tremendous growth potential, with an estimated market size of US$ 81.4 billion by 2022.”

According to the International Data Corporation, the worldwide robotics market will be worth a whopping US$135.4 billion in 2019. And a report from analyst and research company Global Data states that the global robotics industry will grow in value enormously over the next few years to US$277.8 billion. The report also names oil and gas companies such as Saudi Aramco, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP, as well as several others, that are making considerable investment in the robotics market.


What robotics are used in the oil and gas industry?

The main stages of the oil and gas production process are:

  1. Exploration
  2. Drilling
  3. Production
  4. Operation
  5. Decommissioning

Realistically, robotics and automated machinery are most likely to be used in the ‘production phase’. Robots like remotely-operated aerial drones, underwater vehicles, drills, remote sensors, underwater welding machines and automated maintenance equipment are all becoming increasingly more common.


Examples of robotics in the oil and gas industry

ANYmal:ANYbotics’ ANYmal robotic platform is described as the ‘world’s first autonomous offshore robot that can ‘learn’ about its own environments. It is a quadrupedal robot that is designed to work remotely in very difficult terrain. It can inspect offshore sites, using visual and thermal cameras, microphones and gas detectors to generate 3D maps of its surroundings. These maps allow it to carry out inspections and operations much more efficiently as it is able to navigate the space around itself. It can also be remotely operated from onshore control sites and can also share real-time data with human operators.

Iron Roughneck: A well-known robotic in the oil and gas industry is the Iron Roughneck which was made by National Oilwell Varco Inc. This impressive machine automates the repetitive and dangerous job of connecting drill pipes while they are moved through vast amounts of ocean water and oil-bearing rock. This improves both efficiency for the company using it and improves the safety of the workers at the oil rig.

Oseberg H oil platform: An extreme example of robotics in the oil and gas industry is the Oseberg H oil platform. This ground-breaking technology is operated by Equinor in the North Sea and is the world’s first fully automated oil and gas platform. There are no living quarters and no ‘non-essential facilities, the platform is completely unmanned and only requires one or two maintenance visits per year.

Production started on the Oseberg H platform in October 2018. The development is expected to yield 110 million barrels of oil equivalent.


What does the future of robotics in the oil and gas industry hold?

The oil and gas industry will continue to boom in the coming future. The need to extract oil and gas from conventional and non-conventional resources will become increasingly difficult. Advanced technology will be therefore become more common and necessary.

However, there are potential issues for the industry. One of the concerns is the longevity of the machines and how reliable and durable they are. Another concern is that it is still not completely clear whether the high cost of development and ownership of robotics offsets the operational expenditure that they save.

Regardless of these stumbling blocks, there is no doubt that robotics will continue to be increasingly relied upon. The future of the whole world is now intrinsically linked to advanced technology and the oil and gas industry is no exception.


Special Piping Materials and robotics

While Special Piping Materials, is not yet looking at entering the robotics industry, we will keep evaluating the market and its merits for the oil and gas industry as a whole.

As ever, we will continue to support our clients who are investing in the robotics market by ensuring that our high quality and high performing products can be relied upon when they are required.


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