Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Xerafy RFID tag aids pipe identification for oil and gas companies

Steve Rogerson
April 28, 2015
Hong Kong-based Xerafy has introduced what it claims is the world’s first ultra-high frequency (UHF), Atex-certified RFID tag for downhole pipe identification in the oil and gas industry.
Called Xplorer, the tag was developed with oil and gas companies and should change the way pipes are identified during drilling operations by providing real-time access to accurate information, which will enable more efficiency and improved asset utilisation at drilling sites.
The patent-pending UHF design does away with an RFID transponder inside a plastic housing. Instead, it is constructed with high-strength steel and Victrex Peek polymer. It can withstand the sustained high-temperature, high-pressure conditions, severe vibrations, chemical resistance and wear requirements of downhole environments where pressure reaches 2000bar, temperatures reach +200ËšC, and job sites often require various drilling mud and cement, H2S gas and all kinds of corrosive liquids.
The tag has a read range up to 1.5m with a fixed reader and is designed to be embedded in downhole tubulars such as drill pipes, casing and production tubing using a quick snap-in attachment that remains secure during operation and throughout the pipe lifecycle. Xerafy spent more than a year working closely with oil and gas service companies, end users and drill pipe manufacturers to design and validate the reliability of the tag for pipe integrity, simulation analysis and live testing during rig operations.
"For many years, the oil and gas industry has been searching for a rugged, high temperature and high pressure RFID tag that could both provide rapid identification and support automated data management of pipes and tubular components for rig operations, inspection services, storage yards and the transportation sector, when used in harsh environments," said Xerafy CEO and founder Dennis Khoo. "Previous low and high frequency RFID downhole tags required readers to be in direct contact with the tag to get a scan, and did not provide real-time information during an operation, which does not resolve the real-world challenges of rig operations where short read ranges and low data rates are impractical because time and speed are key."
The Xplorer stores the tag ID for the drill pipe and links the pipe to the database containing historical maintenance and manufacturer’s data. The access and collaboration of data between organisations manufacturing, transporting, storing, inspecting and using the pipe ensures increased traceability and productivity.
The more information service and drilling companies can get about the pipe equipment before it goes into the hole, the less likely a costly delay or a catastrophic situation could happen. During tripping operations, a fixed reader antenna can read the tag as the pipe is rotating coupled with vertical movements.
Identifying and tallying pipe joints has traditionally been documented on a chief tablet (paper) and then filed into a filing cabinet. Xplorer now automates the process with fast, accurate RFID data collection, which can help operators better manage safety risks and make better decisions that in the past have not been possible due to fragmented documentations systems that are not easily aggregated. An incorrect decision between continuing or moving on to the next site can easily cost an operator millions of dollars in investment.
With ever-increasing rules for oil and gas for recordkeeping, process improvement and well safety, the tag helps companies meet regulatory requirements cost effectively and efficiently. Beyond regulatory compliance, the benefits of an RFID tag cover drilling, sub-sea and surface operations.