When dealing with oil and gas production environments tens of thousands of feet below the earth, sensors and sensing data are vital to understanding what’s happening at your site. They are essentially the eyes and ears for oil and gas operators.
Of course, the quality of data is only as good as the reliability, robustness and analysis of the data points you are collecting. As oil and gas production moves to unconventional environments, a key challenge that needs to be addressed is designing more rugged sensors that can handle the hotter, harsher environments they surely will encounter.
GE researchers are developing such a sensing platform focused on ensuring the collection of reliable data, and expanding the level of information that can be captured and analyzed. Fundamentally, the Sensing team is utilizing fiber optics, or using light to both transmit and collect data much like data can be transmitted over the Internet.
Take, for example, a novel downhole sensor GE engineers have developed for measuring pressure at high temperatures. These sensors were mounted on a 2 km optical fiber and tested deep underground in a carbon sequestration containment well, showing very high accuracy. Light is literally shot down to acquire and then transmit data back to the surface. These same sensors are also used in renewable energy production such as geothermal power.
In addition to measuring pressure, GE scientists are developing other sensors to analyze temperature and strain as well. Understanding temperature, pressures and strains oil and gas equipment is being subjected to will help ensure field and well operations are safer and more efficient.