Chinese petroleum and chemical company Sinopec Shengli Oilfield has turned to RFID technology in field tests to track the downhole pipes on its onshore oil site. The use case is believed to be the first UHF RFID application of its kind in the oil and gas industry.
By embedding Xerafy RFID tags on drill pipes, the Shengli Oilfield is able to track 1,380 drill pipes at seven well sites using handheld readers and software supplied by VictorySoft. The pilot operation ran for three months, with every well opening a depth of approximately 2,500 meters. For the next stage, a well-centered antenna will be put in place to read the tag as the pipe moves through it while being tripped. With the success of the pilot, the Shengli Oilfield expects to substantially expand the deployment of Xerafy’s Xplorer tags to additional drill strings and sites this year.
Xerafy Xplorer is a patent-pending, UHF RFID tag constructed with high-strength steel and polymer, and is specially designed to be embedded in a hole milled into the drill joint to track each individual pipe. RFID is key to improving the previously impossible task of tracking and capturing data on the individual pipes. Without RFID, Shengli Oilfield did not have an efficient way to manage drilling pipes, which were counted manually before and after the drilling process, resulting in inaccurate inventory management, inefficient asset utilization and potential safety risks.
The ability to track individual joints of drill pipe has opened up new possibilities for improved documentation and process efficiency resulting in cost savings and risk reduction. Regulatory requirements, weather, and operating conditions make China’s oilfields one of the most challenging asset management environments on earth. During tripping operations, the drill pipes are exposed to high temperature, extreme pressure and vibrations, and chemical corrosion. Xerafy Xplorer RFID tags are constructed to be able to withstand the downhole environment reliably where pressures can reach 30,000 psi.
The Xplorer tag records data including the ID number, steel number, size and weight, production information, last usage information, asset maintenance records and other vital information. The stored information is transmitted to VictorySoft’s tracking system. By using a handheld RFID reader, the staff has been able to access key information both before and after scanning all drill pipes and will be able to get real time visibility when the assets need cleaning and maintenance, including when the drills need to be scrapped.
This greatly reduces the risk of leakage and rupture accidents which can cause the expedition to fail. With timely collection of raw data, management can use the data on-site to make quick and accurate decisions.
“The benefits of an RFID tag solution are indisputable for drilling, sub-sea and surface operations,” says Dennis Khoo, CEO of Xerafy. “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.”