To support safe and efficient field operation, oil and gas companies invest heavily in control and monitoring systems. The challenge is that, while wellheads may produce for decades, the life cycle of controllers and other automation technologies is far shorter and usually linked to a specific lift method.
When proprietary systems inevitably require repair and replacement, companies struggle with vendor lock-in and product obsolescence. Legacy systems often lack interoperability and present security vulnerabilities, but optimizing proprietary systems with the latest IoT-based solutions is a complex, time-consuming, and cost-prohibitive process.
Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions such as the Universal Wellpad Controller provide more affordable and flexible options for both greenfield and brownfield operations. With off-the-shelf hardware and open-architecture software, companies are free to innovate and optimize throughout the production life cycle while providing potential cost savings of ownership.
The Future of Wellhead Automation and Analytics
Developed in collaboration with ExxonMobil, the Universal Wellpad Controller (UWC) is a powerful edge control device and an example of how Intel and its partners are driving innovation in the oil and gas industry.
It is designed to securely and economically monitor and control onshore production wells and surface production facilities. It integrates off-the-shelf hardware and open architecture software from multiple vendors into an interoperable, deterministic control platform that can also be used to perform near-real-time analytics at remote sites, improve wellhead monitoring, and enhance field operation efficiency.
The Universal Wellpad Controller is, in general terms, an extremely high-powered controller—or remote terminal unit (RTU)—that gives oil and gas operators control through all phases of the wellhead production cycle, from free-flowing high production to secondary recovery and low production.
Unlike single-function hardware controllers, the control functions of the Universal Wellpad Controller are deployed as containerized software dropped onto off-the-shelf hardware. This helps enables multiple control functions working together on single Universal Wellpad Controller hardware and the evolution of deployed control functions over the well's lifetime.
In addition to addressing traditional challenges around product obsolescence, it helps control costs throughout the life cycle of every well and production facility. Companies can change the equipment or sensors on a well, then simply connect new equipment and sensors and upload the related control software onto the Universal Wellpad Controller. By replacing multiple single-function devices with a single Universal Wellpad Controller and integrating the latest software, companies can streamline operations and perform analytics at the edge to reduce network overloads and accelerate insights.
The full benefits of the Universal Wellpad Controller include:
- Eliminate vendor lock-in and reduce automation costs with off-the-shelf hardware and open architecture
- Consolidate and simplify deployments and training by replacing multiple single-function devices with a single Universal Wellpad Controller with preferred software
- Reduce expenses throughout the production life cycle, including the costs of maintenance, support, equipment storage, and training
- Increase flexibility with scalable edge compute, from low-cost solutions powered by Intel Atom® processors to more powerful Intel® Core™ processor-based devices
- Innovate faster by easily testing and scaling new control and analytics solutions
Intel® IoT Technology is helping oil and gas companies take advantage of intelligence from edge to cloud.
Additional IoT Solutions for Oil and Gas
Intel® IoT Technology is helping oil and gas companies take advantage of intelligence from edge to cloud. In addition to addressing technology-related challenges, these innovative solutions can help companies attract a younger, more tech-savvy workforce.
Intel-powered IoT gateways make it possible to turn data gathered at the edge into real value. Companies can transmit data securely to the cloud, perform near-real-time wellhead analytics, and scale cost-effectively. By providing preintegrated, prevalidated hardware and software building blocks, the gateways connect legacy industrial devices with new systems, helping companies avoid the high cost of full-scale replacements.
Many of Intel’s industry solutions are based on the Intel® IoT Platform, an end-to-end reference model that works with third-party solutions to provide a foundation for seamless, secure device connections. The platform makes it easier to collect vast amounts of data from connected objects as quickly and securely as possible, using a set of technologies that reduce the need for complex configurations and programming.