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Wireless data network expanding in Permian Basin oilfield to strengthen operations

A telecommunications company is looking to bring better wireless connectivity to the oil and gas industry, expanding its network to offer wireless data in the Permian Basin and three other oil and gas regions.

Infrastructure Networks (INET), in a partnership with Nokia announced the expansion of its network, adding capacity to existing area and doubling its geographic coverage.

The network will be 5G-ready and will cover 130,000 square miles in the Permian of southeast New Mexico and West Texas, along with the Eagle Ford in southern Texas, the Scoop/Stack oil play in Oklahoma and the Bakken region in North Dakota.

The project will use Nokia’s Airscale radio access network (RAN) to improve communications in the oilfield, as domestic oil production began booming in recent years.

Mark Slaughter, INET chief executive officer said the move was to capitalize on increased digital communications at the oil and gas facilities and better meet the demands for data.

“With data generation growing rapidly at the well pad, INET provides the vital link to deliver actionable information and insights to decision-makers in the office,” he said. “Further, INET partners with advanced analytics providers, allowing them to scale innovative technologies quickly across INET’s installed customer base and to deliver upon the promise of the industrial internet in oil and gas operations.”

He said the needs of the oil and gas industry for reliable internet access grew with the emergence of more automated technologies used in extraction operations.

“Operators, drillers and oilfield service companies can now embrace automation, artificial intelligence analytics and machine learning, only made accessible with next generation, high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity,” Slaughter said.

“The robustness, reliability and sophistication of our LTE platform brings accessibility at scale to industrial internet applications, helping oil and gas operators embrace the digital revolution in the oilfield.”

Scott Cohen, senior vice president of major account sales at Nokia said better wireless service could strengthen operational analytics and improve safety for oilfield workers.

“From industrial internet, video analytics and automation to sensors making workers safer, the power of low-latency and mission critical services to the oil and gas industry is undeniable,” he said.

Slaughter said INET intended to continue growing its wireless offerings in the oilfield, as operations continue to grow.

“With 24/7 monitoring, field support, guaranteed uptime and quality of service, INET is uniquely situated to serve the demanding nature of oil and gas,” he said. “We expect to grow our network coverage more broadly into additional North American energy basins as market activity warrants.”

A 2019 study found that oil and gas companies could save up to $100 billion from automation technologies over the next decade, read a report from Rystad, an energy research and data firm, in exploration and upstream production budgets.

Audun Martinsen, head of oilfield services research at Rystad said the availability of data will be crucial for companies to sustain themselves in the future.

“Many key industry players are setting optimistic goals, but the realization of these initiatives largely depends on how freely data is shared among companies and how commercial strategies are deployed to drive this development,” he said. “Because of this, it could be years before we see full adoption.”

McEntyre said better technology could not only help operators be more efficient in monitoring and data collecting, but also in where they choose to drill.

Robert McEntyre, spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association said the Permian is already seeing increases in digitization at oil and gas operations, and such efforts were crucial to the industry’s future.

“Companies are investing in more efficient technologies,” he said. “These kinds of strategies are being deployed across the basin. A lot of the majors are partnering with Silicon Valley and the technology companies to ensure they’re taking advantage of the best technology.

“We’re not just looking for geologists and petroleum engineers anymore. We’re looking for computer engineers, computer scientists and coders.”

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, achedden@currentargus.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.

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©2020 the Carlsbad Current-Argus (Carlsbad, N.M.)

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