Wireless technology links oil wells in the extremes of Siberia

When TNK-BP wanted to connect its remote oil wells in the challenging environment of the Samotlor field in Siberia, its contractor Mobile Telesystems picked InfiNet Wireless Telecoms infrastructure to enable remote monitoring and SCADA applications, as InfiNet Wireless CEO Dmitry Okorokov explains

Wireless technology links oil wells in the extremes of Siberia

Russia’s petroleum industry is one of the largest in the world. The country has the biggest reserves and is the largest exporter of natural gas. It also has the second largest coal reserves, the eighth largest oil reserves and is the biggest producer of oil – churning out an average of 10.83 million barrels of oil per day in December 2015.

With undiscovered natural gas reserves of an estimated 6.7 trillion cubic meters and undiscovered oil reserves of an estimated 22 billion barrels, Russia will likely continue to be a key global exporter for the foreseeable future. In addition to its exports, strong growth in the Russian economy over recent years has caused an increase in local demand for energy of all types.

Connecting remote oil fields and allowing communication between stations has long been a difficult but necessary endeavour. In 2012, TNK-BP announced the deployment of a wireless telecommunications infrastructure for the Samotlor oilfields in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous region in Russia.

The aim was to provide internet access and support SCADA applications and remote monitoring for TNK-BP’s producing assets, and the company’s biggest subsidiary – Samotlorneftegaz.

Before the acquisition of TNK-BP by Russian state-owned oil giant LUKOIL, Samotlorneftegaz was the company’s top producing asset. Developing the central and south western sectors of the Samotlor field, it produced 65% of the field’s recoverable sources.

Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS), the leading telecommunications provider in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, was selected to carry out the work and opted for InfiNet Wireless’ range of wireless solutions. During the course of the project, MTS rolled out dozens of InfiNet Wireless base stations and thousands of subscriber terminals (CPEs) across the entire area of the oilfield.

Coverage issues
During the process of designing the perfect solution, there were several key considerations which needed to be taken into account. Perhaps the most significant of these was the area of coverage – the Samotlor oilfield is the sixth largest in the world, covering a total area of 1,752 square km (676 square miles).

In the years since its discovery in 1965, more than 17,000 wells have been built across more than 2,000 well clusters. The system would need to have the capacity not only to connect all of these individual sites, but to provide a solid and dependable service that could be relied upon in the transmission of the data used to monitor each well.

Challenging environment
Another major consideration was whether the system would be able to cope with the extremely challenging environmental conditions. There are very few places in the world where machinery would have to withstand such extreme differences in temperature, but the Samotlor oilfield is one of those places, with lows of -50° Centigrade to highs of +60° Centigrade.

It was therefore vitally important that the selected equipment would be able to cope with the pressure that these conditions would place on it, ideally without the need for further investment in any third party stabilisation equipment.

MTS opted to use InfiNet Wireless’ range of products after careful consideration of a number of different options. InfiNet Wireless is backed by more than 19 years of intense customer-based research and product development, resulting in a range of wireless connectivity solutions which provide uncompromising connectivity.

The nature of the terrain and the required area of coverage for the Samotlor oilfield meant that fibre-optic solutions would have been extremely difficult, as well as prohibitively expensive. As well as its successful deployments in more than 80 countries worldwide, InfiNet’s previous success in Siberia made it ideally placed to understand its unique challenges.

Range of services
With the help of InfiNet Wireless, MTS has been able to offer Samotlorneftegas a wide range of services across its entire network. These include high-quality voice transmissions, corporate computing services, CCTV and other security applications.

Sergey Kuzmin, director of MTS-Ural, says: ‘InfiNet Wireless’ innovative wireless technology allows us to offer a full spectrum of solutions to our customers, easily connecting remote locations in very short periods of time, even in areas that are normally hard to gain access to or where fibre-optic solutions are simply too expensive or physically impossible to deploy.’

The new infrastructure provides Samotlorneftegas with a robust communications platform spanning distances of up to 20km between base stations, and reliable and sustainable connectivity to even the remotest sites. The equipment is capable of a throughput of up to 60Mb/s and is able to withstand the extreme temperatures without requiring any third-party thermo-stabilisation equipment.

The investment has also changed the way Samotlorneftegas manages its processes, enhancing the quality and reliability of its remote site monitoring and significantly improving its production processes (based on the existing SCADA system).

Remote monitoring
Individual operators located in the central control room are now able to monitor field processing parameters such as pressure in each individual oil well, oil consistency and temperature, as well as remotely managing the sites to ensure that these parameters stay within their safe ranges.

This is achieved by the capability to remotely start and stop relevant pumps and select alternative routes for the oil to be transported in the most appropriate pipelines.

As well as the implications for efficiency, this technology also represents a huge leap forward in safety monitoring. The ability to remotely monitor each well for potential warning signs in consistency, pressure and flow rates, and to divert oil flow instantly and remotely, will help to prevent incidents such as oil spills.

These events, which can cause significant damage to the environment, should start to become less common as technology like this is more widely deployed. ‘This project was deployed as part of TNK-BP’s programme Asset for the future – Intelligent Oil Well,’ says Sergey Shevchenko, chief engineer and deputy director of Samotlorneftegas.

‘Thanks to the technically advanced and superior network provided by MTS and InfiNet Wireless, we have now been able to significantly improve the quantity and quality of information collected from the oil wells.’

Further ventures
The project was so successful that TNK-BP decided to embark on a number of further projects based on InfiNet Wireless technology in conjunction with MTS in various locations throughout Russia. This exciting project is certainly another major milestone for InfiNet Wireless, confirming its ability to provide high-quality and high-performance systems for mission-critical applications.

Strong, durable wireless solutions for the oil and gas industry are in increasingly high demand, as it becomes easier to provide links between remote points without the need for fibre. Driven by the need for flexible, reliable and cost-effective solutions, more and more petroleum exploration companies are opting for wireless products.

The installation of a completely connected wireless communications system means that as more and more systems and processes migrate online, oil and gas companies such as TNK-BP are protected from becoming obsolete.

The equipment allows the company to ensure that it is operating at optimum efficiency, while keeping its staff and the environment safe. As the field of oil and gas exploration enters a new generation, wireless connectivity is set to become one of the key drivers of success.

InfiNet Wireless Equipment
InfiNet Wireless supplied a combination of extended InfiLINK 2x2 MIMO point-to-point (PTP) solutions and InfiMAN 2x2 MIMO point-to-multipoint base stations to connect remote terminals in the Samotlor oilfield.

Both base stations operate in the 4.9-6.4 GHz frequency bands in 5-40MHz channel widths. InfiLINK provides up to 280 Mbps net throughput and InfiMAN up to 240Mbps.

InfiLINK can operate over distances in excess of 90km in both line of sight (LOS) and non-line of sight (NLOS) deployments, while InfiMAN has a range of 30+km.


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