Oil & Gas Middle East Interviews Three Senior Managers of vMonitor

Three senior managers at UAE wireless technology firm vMonitor share their experiences of DOF deployment in Kuwait, Oman and the UAE

At the core of any implementation of a digital oilfield or a smart field lies access to accurate and reliable data. Monitoring well operating conditions and system bottlenecks using accurate and durable sensors and versatile flow computers, have contributed significantly to improving field management, but the trenching and wiring required to bring each new wellhead on line is an overhead that most field managers would avoid if they could.

Wireless systems eliminate the need for trenching and allow each wellhead to be brought on line and into production quickly. With the new generation of wireless communication, power management systems provide extended battery life and control capabilities with local intelligence as well as data accuracy and wireless link quality of service.

We quizzed vMonitor representatives who are active in the fields of Kuwait, Oman and the U.A.E. about wireless deployments, and the challenges and rewards of DOF in their respective countries.

What are you working on right now?

Tarek W. Shafi, PMP Operations Manager, Kuwait:

We have been working on two major projects for KOC (Kuwait Oil Company) since 2010 consisting of a total of 500 wells. The first is a Digital Oil Field project taking place on the famous KwIDF North Jurassic high pressure gas wells, the second is a well surveillance SCADA project which spans all of the KOC oil fields and covers ESP wells, natural flowing wells, water injection wells and manifolds.

We are fully automating the KOC oil fields providing monitoring and control of process temperatures, pressures, h3S, GD, corrosion monitoring, surface safety valves, automated chokes, flow meters and SCADA HW/SW solution providing wireless real-time communication to a central remote collaboration room where data is analyzed and visualized to facilitate and optimize the decision making process for production engineers.

Mahesh Purohit, Country Manager, Oman:

vMonitor is known as one-stop solution for RTU’s, SCADA, wireless solutions and any oilfield data monitoring in Oman. vMonitor services major companies, such as: PDO, OGC, CCED, MEDCO, Petrogas, and Occidental.

vMonitor has had an RTU Supply Agreement Contract with PDO since 2004 and has supplied over 3000 RTU’s till date for a variety of applications.

Thony Brito, Sales Manager, Middle East & India:

vMonitor has been providing services to Oil & Gas companies for the last four years inside the UAE. At this time vMonitor has deployed a number of solutions to approximately eighty wells and well head platforms. vMonitor also provides solutions including wireless instrumentation, control and monitoring equipment for artificial lift systems, CCTV Systems and SCADA. More recently the company has provided Well Surveillances and Remote Shutdown panels for artificial lift systems, using the latest technology for local and remote control systems. vMonitor has implemented its solution using a diverse suite of communication solutions for its customers, including GSM/3G, WiFi, WiMAX, UHF, Satellite and Fiber Optics.

What are the challenges of deploying vMonitor’s DOF solution where you operate?

Tarek Shafi (Kuwait):

We faced a number of challenges in deploying our wireless solution due to lack of confidence in IT security as recent high-profile cases of SCADA systems being compromised have emerged. Unable to install our wireless sensors we had to revert to using a cabled solution that involved trenching, increased material costs and longer time to commission. However, we recently received the green light to install our wireless solution on all new wells going forward.

Mahesh Purohit (Oman):

We have three main challenges. The first was deploying a radio system in the Sultanate’s tough terrain and environment. vMonitor’s cluster based solution helped PDO in gathering data from all the remote wells with available technology in an easy way. The second was penetrating the market, where the large RTU companies have been based for more than 15 years. Lastly, providing local infrastructure and local support i.e. not hiring subcontractors for duties but having fulltime staff to handle our customer’s requirements.

Thony Brito (UAE):

The main challenge is to create confidence in the end-user about the convenience and reliability of the implementation of vMonitor’s wireless monitoring and control solutions. Thankfully, over the last few years customers are much more receptive to the concept, and now products are being adopted on a much larger scale for well head applications and plants. There are always other challenges including local regulations relating to wireless products and logistics issues, mainly when installing the solutions offshore.

How does vMonitor’s deployment differ from what’s on offer from your competitors?

Tarek Shafi (Kuwait):

vMonitor’s products and in particular our RTU’s are proven to withstand the harshest environments and provide the lowest total cost of ownership. With over 500 RTUs and 2000 transmitters installed in KOC for over 2 years our track record speaks for itself.

Another competitive advantage we have is our commitment to service 24/7 around the clock and it’s our policy to hire quality personnel which differentiates us from our competitors who tend to take advantage of the low salaried, less qualified workforce of the local market.

Mahesh Purohit (Oman):

vMonitor is a technology partner rather than a supplier to its customers in Oman. vMonitor offers a complete solution which includes products, training, installation, commissioning, 24/7 local support and more.

Thony Brito (UAE):

vMonitor’s products has been designed for harshest environment up to 85C and 100% humidity, and include built-in applications for a number of artificial-lift systems.

Our products can be arranged in multiple configurations and our engineering teams can design tailored solutions in a very short time frame.

How do you liaise on a daily basis with your host operator? How do you characterise their DOF approach?

Tarek Shafi (Kuwait):

We are in constant communication with KOC at all levels, from field engineers to department heads and general managers. They are impressed with our technology in bringing their oil fields to the comfort of their own offices providing them with 24/7 real time data at their fingertips they have the confidence that they are on top of things.

This is especially true in the late hours when our alarms notify those responsible by SMS of any adverse well conditions requiring immediate attention. We have witnessed the evolution of DOF where even those initially sceptical of the value-add are now the most outspoken defenders of vMonitor’s technology within KOC.

Mahesh Purohit (Oman):

vMonitor’s commitment to continuous improvement enables us to identify the requirements of our customers for DOF and come up with targeted solutions. One such improvement resulted in vMonitor’s new series of remote terminal unit: the RTU iXC2. The RTU iXC2 is ready with plug-in DOF modules like WetGas, NOC, OPC, POC, ESP applications. All of these were identified as requirements by our customers.

Thony Brito (UAE):

vMonitor’s approach to DOF for our customers varies as there are particular conditions for each production asset, however as the technology and experiences of the Digital Oilfield evolves the approach to each new implementation is more comprehensive, involving multiple departments and disciplines, affecting not only the short-term actions resulting from the status of the acquired data and field alarms but all the systems and procedures required to manage the assets as a whole and continued improvement of workflows and overall performance.

What plans does vMonitor have in your country in future?

Tarek Shafi (Kuwait):

We plan to stay in Kuwait for the long-term as we believe KOC has the vision and integrity to push technology to its limits when it comes to maximizing production and provide safety to their personnel. We are investing heavily in Kuwait in terms of R&D to provide customized products to solve complex and challenging problems. We are also starting to expand our operation outside the O&G markets where we feel there is great potential for growth.

Mahesh Purohit (Oman):

The Oman oilfields are complex in nature and need high-end solutions for monitoring. Many of the oil companies inside the Sultanate – especially PDO – are leaders in the Gulf region in adopting new technology in the field of oil extraction, oil recovery, data monitoring, well head controls, smart-field deployments and DOF solutions. DOF companies have an exciting future over the next 5-10 years.

Thony Brito (UAE):

The UAE is implementing DOF in several of production assets, so it represents a large amount of potential for vMonitor over the next 5-10 years.