Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

M2M devices in oil and gas industry to number 1.12 million in 2018: Berg

Iain Morris
April 15, 2014

The number of M2M devices used in the oil and gas industry is set to rise from about 423,000 in 2013 to 1.12 million in 2018, according to the latest research from Berg Insight.

By the end of the forecast period, some 871,000 of those devices will use cellular-based technology, with 244,000 of them designed to work on satellite networks.

Berg says the oil and gas industry is characterized by remote and inaccessible facilities where wireless often remains the only viable solution for transferring M2M data.

North America remains the most advanced market, according to the study, and home to most players specializing in oil and gas, including Pason Systems (Calgary, Canada), Zedi (Calgary, Canada) and Critical Control (Calgary, Canada).

Meanwhile, most of the companies based in major oil-and-gas-producing regions – such as North America and the United Arab Emirates – are focused on providing solutions for upstream and midstream activities.

In Europe, by contrast, players like ISA (Coimbra, Portugal), Powelectrics (Tamworth, UK), Sensile Technologies (Morges, Switzerland) and Silentsoft (Morges, Switzerland) are mainly interested in catering to the needs of the downstream sector, facilitating services such as tank monitoring.

The industry also includes a number of non-specialists that develop M2M services for a variety of industries, including Sierra Wireless (Richmond, Canada), Digi International (Minnetonka, MN, USA) and Calamp (Oxnard, CA, USA).

On the communication provider side, Vodafone (Newbury, UK), Numerex (Atlanta, GA, USA) and Orbcomm (Rochelle Park, NJ, USA) have all developed end-to-end oil and gas M2M applications.

As noted by Berg, M2M usage in the oil and gas sector continues to be driven by safety and environmental concerns, regulatory compliance and demand for improved operational efficiency, while M2M services can be found in applications such as the monitoring and control of drills, wells and pipelines.

“Booming production volumes of shale gas and tight oil in North America has increased the use of wireless M2M solutions in the upstream segment,” said Johan Svanberg, a senior analyst with Berg.

“Real-time pipeline monitoring is driving the adoption in the midstream segment,” he added. “Wireless M2M solutions are retrofitted to existing infrastructure as well as incorporated in new pipeline projects across the world.”
In downstream, remarks Berg, cellular telemetry solutions have already proven to be an excellent fit for the remote monitoring of storage tanks.
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