The digital oilfield holds promise of introducing disruptive new cost-cutting efficiencies, greater levels of production and new business models with the potential to transform the energy industry in the same way digitalization has transformed many other sectors of the economy. 

The oilpatch has been slow to embrace the digital oilfield. Digital technologies hold the promise to solve many of the challenges, if they can penetrate into an industry perceived to be resistant to change.

Osprey Informatics Ltd. is dipping into the digital oilfield well to leverage the latest advances in intelligent visual monitoring technology to give companies the ability to limit remote site visits, while reducing operational costs and mitigating safety and environmental risks. Its Osprey Reach made it a finalist in the Energy Excellence Awards Digital Oilfield category.

Osprey Reach is transforming the essentially “dumb” surveillance systems of the past that required a set of human eyes to make effective, to “smart” systems able to distinguish out-of-the-ordinary events, from intruders or physical dangers to leaks and equipment breakdown, around the clock.

When there is an alert — visual or from another sensor — operators can view live images and video to validate the alarm, have better awareness of the environment, repair needs and any risks before deploying crews.

Increasingly sophisticated machine learning can “train” the system to detect and distinguish increasingly specific objects and events — for example, discriminating between a person or vehicle and an animal, or a change in cadence of a pump to provide an early warning of pending breakdown or indicating maintenance is required.

Visual evidence is also valuable for efficiently auditing third party contractors for health and safety compliance, incidents and invoice accuracy. One company used Osprey Reach to create a report showing contract workers arriving and departing, with time-stamped images, resulting in a 30 per cent invoice reduction based on inaccurate billing. The “pictures don’t lie” concept also shortens the time to resolution dramatically.

Osprey Reach could also assist companies in their efforts to contain methane emissions at a time when a mandated path to a 45 per cent reduction of emissions to 2025 is soon to come into effect. The industry is grappling with a gap in knowledge as to how much methane is leaking, from where, as well as seeking cost-effective ways of monitoring and remediating emissions.

Thermal imaging can detect large methane leaks such as from storage tanks. Osprey has launched two new projects looking to take that capacity to new levels in order to detect much lower-volume and infrequent fugitive emissions. One uses computer vision to automate and increase the accuracy of detecting and quantifying methane leaks and the other is investigating capturing and integrating audio data to provide 24/7 sight and sound monitoring and analytics as part of the company’s managed service offering.