OILFIELD TREND SERIES: The Price of Oil and the Fortunes of Automation
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OILFIELD TREND SERIES: The Price of Oil and the Fortunes of Automation

Posted on April 07, 2016 by SPOC Automation

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Welcome to the first in a series of articles about automation trends. We encourage your feedback and perspective on the future of automation.

Just about everyone in the industry has been effected by the falling price of oil. For automation, the biggest impact we have seen is the shift from large, high-dollar projects to focused low dollar, high impact projects.

Companies in our industry are used to calculating the return on money. From the largest to the smallest investments, the evaluation process centers on how and when the payoff will occur. In these times, we see a greater emphasis on targeted projects that have a high likelihood of quick return for a relatively small outlay.

Producers have had to make hard decisions about where to continue drilling and completion activity and where to focus on production. In producing fields, opportunities to decrease cost per barrel are actively sought. Automation enables these producers to make strategic investments with a quick ROI.

  • Pump off control. For beam pumps in particular, pump off controllers improve overall production while protecting pumping equipment. 
  • Drive pump control. Using variable speed drive (VSD) systems to run pumps at their optimal rate by varying motor speed can increase barrels produced and decrease downtime for repairs.
  • Energy savings. Oilfield utility bills are typically big enough to have a real effect on profitability of wells. Producers can shave as much as 40% of the electrical consumption by pumps through more efficient pump drive systems. These systems pull less energy from the grid and use it more efficiently. Producers will increasingly shun systems that burn off or waste energy when running pumps as lower speeds.
  • Reduced downtime. SPOC drives run pumps more efficiently and within tolerances, reducing both cost of operations and incidence of failure. These savings easily pay for the drive in quick order. 
  • Coordinated well insights. Sensors are cheap and plentiful. Tying together various well equipment and environmental sensors provides a more complete view of the well. That view leads to insights into potential improvements in performance and ultimate production.


Performance of just about any well under production can be improved through automation. That improvement can be quantified and usually represents a compelling return on investment.

At SPOC, we continue to invest in research and development to ensure that our customers always get the biggest bang for their buck. Watch this space as we introduce innovations throughout the coming year.

In the next article we will explore mega trends in oilfield automation including the great shift change, energy savings and integration.

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Topics: OIlfield, Trends, Oil and Gas Industry

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