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Ursula Lang |

Sand as far as the eye can see - Oil production in the desert of Oman with Siemens technology



Muscat/Oman. Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) opted to rely on technology from the Siemens Ruggedcom portfolio to manage its oil wells spread across remote locations in the desert of Oman. What most impressed PDO about Ruggedcom products was their rugged design, crucial for coping with extreme temperature fluctuations, high humidity levels and an over-abundance of sand. The Ruggedcom communications products allow convenient remote surveillance of both manned and unmanned wellheads spread across over 300,000 square meters of desert, as well as data analysis in PDO’s head office in Muscat.


Temperature fluctuations of just under 100 degrees Celsius, 90 percent humidity, monsoon-like rainfall, sand and dust at every turn: the 316,000 square kilometers of Sultanate of Oman consist mainly of desert. The climate conditions in Oman certainly qualify as extreme. Any technology put to work under these conditions has to be tough and robust. This was absolutely clear to Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) – a company performing 70 percent of all oil and gas production and exploration of new oil fields in Oman. PDO opted to use Ruggedcom products from Siemens to build a communications network for surveillance and monitoring of its remote oil wellheads.


Challenging conditions

Oman’s oil fields are not only extremely deep, but also “sour”. This means that the extracted oil contains a high proportion of toxic and explosive gas - hydrogen sulfide (H2S). For safety reasons, PDO was trying to minimize the number of staff working on sites. However, the wellheads still require constant monitoring and surveillance to deter intruders. Previously used communications equipment required air-conditioned cabinets – which was both unreliable and expensive. The Ruggedcom portfolio from Siemens offers a lower-cost, field-proven alternative. Ruggedcom products are not only more durable, capable of withstanding tough environmental conditions, but also they met PDO’s main requirements: monitoring of the oil and gas production, and extended Scada (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) connectivity for the integration of legacy process instrumentation and new sensors. PDO also required improved wellhead surveillance with real-time alarms to enable a rapid response in case of unauthorized intrusion to the site. The communication components used in the network had to be capable of covering large distances between different stations. An oil field can comprise a cluster of wellheads spread over an area of 30 square kilometers. The new technology solution equipped each oil field with a large number of sensors connected to a compact Ruggedcom RS900 Ethernet switch. The wellheads are connected by fiber optic cables to an RSG2100 switch and the data is sent to a remote gathering manifold station. From there, the collected data is transmitted by fiber optic cable to the local control room, where the RSG2100 and RSG2200 switches are used, and also to PDO’s central office in the capital Muscat. A visualization software is used for remote and convenient monitoring of oil production and communications network. Given a high concentration of gases occurring at the wellheads, some of them unmanned, and large distances between them, deploying service technicians would not only have been risky, but also cost-prohibitive.


Satisfaction on every count

The combination of technology from different generations does not pose a problem for the Ruggedcom network components. The Ruggedcom RS400 server copes with this by converting serial communication from Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) located directly at the wellheads into a digital form. The data is then transmitted over the Scada network. This also includes signals from surveillance cameras: any unusual movements are automatically detected, directly triggering an alarm. Legacy and new infrastructure work hand in hand without problems. The customer was deeply satisfied with the solution: “The quality of the equipment is excellent, the support we’ve received is excellent, so I’m looking at expanding the Siemens solution for future requirements,” concluded Al Kharusi, project engineer with PDO.



Oman’s economy is largely dependent on oil and gas exports. To ensure optimum use of this natural resource, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) relies on rugged communications technology from Siemens.

The Sultanate of Oman stretches over 316,000 square kilometers, a big part of which is desert. Harsh environmental conditions – temperature close to 100 degrees Celsius, monsoon-type rainfall and an abundance of sand - make it challenging for any type of technology to survive.

The oil wellheads spread over remote locations in the desert are linked via manifold stations to local control rooms and to the PDO head office in Muscat.

The components of the Ruggedcom portfolio can withstand extreme heat, sand, dust and high humidity, making them ideal for deployment in desert conditions.

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