The Daily Oil Bulletin’s first annual Energy Excellence Awards were held in Calgary on Thursday, May 2. Awards were handed out in 12 categories under the banners of Operational and Project Excellence, Innovation and Research Excellence, and Exporting Excellence.
Over a two-week period we are profiling the champions in each of the 12 subcategories. Today’s instalment profiles the champion in the category Innovation & Research Excellence: Digital Oilfield.
Click here to read about all of the champions and finalists.
Osprey Informatics Ltd. is dipping into the digital oilfield well to leverage the latest advances in intelligent visual monitoring technology to give companies the ability to limit remote site visits, while reducing operational costs and mitigating safety and environmental risks. Its Osprey Reach delivered top marks in the Energy Excellence Awards Digital Oilfield category.
Osprey Reach is transforming the essentially “dumb” surveillance systems of the past, that required a set of human eyes to make effective, to “smart” systems able to distinguish out-of-the-ordinary events, from intruders or physical dangers to leaks and equipment breakdown, around the clock.
“When you are doing things with video there is just too much data for any one person to really understand, and take action or gain insight from, so we use the computer vision technology to look for specific activities or specific objects within an image or a video and then we allow individual users to basically set up their own alerts, and they can be alerted based on what the computer vision detects,” said Jeremy Bernard, chief innovation officer and head of business development at Osprey.
When there is an alert — visual or from another sensor — operators can view live images and video to validate the alarm, have better awareness of the environment, repair needs and any risks before deploying crews.
Increasingly sophisticated machine learning can “train” the system to detect and distinguish increasingly specific objects and events — for example, discriminating between a person or vehicle and an animal, or a change in cadence of a pump to provide an early warning of pending breakdown or indicating maintenance is required.
“It's an important technology because it really filters out the noise and gives people more concise information. What’s made it effective is, there have been advances in artificial intelligence and in cloud computing and computing power to run the algorithms, and it’s all come together — a combination of people and technology to make it really powerful today,” Bernard said.
The fully managed service operates edge devices, including cameras, modems, processors and local storage, at scale while reducing routine site visits by approximately 50 per cent. The average cost for an in-person well site inspection is reduced from an industry average $20 to $57 to as little as $2 per day, the company estimates.
Visual evidence is also valuable for efficiently auditing third party contractors for health and safety compliance, incidents and invoice accuracy. One company used Osprey Reach to create a report showing contract workers arriving and departing, with time-stamped images, resulting in a 30 per cent invoice reduction based on inaccurate billing. The “pictures don’t lie” concept also shortens the time to resolution dramatically.
Osprey Reach could also assist companies in their efforts to contain methane emissions at a time when a mandated path to a 45 per cent reduction of emissions to 2025 is soon to come into effect. The industry is grappling with a gap in knowledge as to how much methane is leaking, from where, as well as seeking cost-effective ways of monitoring and remediating emissions.
Thermal imaging can detect large methane leaks such as from storage tanks. Osprey has launched two new projects looking to take that capacity to new levels in order to detect much lower-volume and infrequent fugitive emissions. One uses computer vision to automate and increase the accuracy of detecting and quantifying methane leaks and the other is investigating capturing and integrating audio data to provide 24/7 sight and sound monitoring and analytics as part of the company’s managed service offering.
The technology got a boost in December when Osprey closed a $3.75 million investment round led by Shell Ventures LLC and Evok Innovations, with participation from InterGen Capital and current shareholders. “Enabled by augmented intelligence and machine learning, our industry is undergoing rapid change. We see Osprey’s technology as a core component of this digital transformation, with proven operational benefits and promising methane detection potential,” Michael Crothers, Shell Canada president and country chair, said of the investment.
The funding is also bolstering the Calgary-based company’s expansion into the U.S., where it has recently opened a sales office, in Houston. In March, Osprey entered into a strategic partnership with Infrastructure Networks, Inc. (INET) to roll out its technology to the U.S. energy sector. INET will sell, supply and service Osprey’s intelligent visual monitoring solutions, delivered over INET’s wireless platform, while Osprey will leverage INET’s LTE coverage of key energy producing areas for its growing U.S. client base.
The company, which has built up a roster of 30 companies using the technology, overcame the challenge faced by most tech startups — getting first users, Bernard said. “ Getting our first couple of customers and proving that we actually have a good technology and able to support it was one of our biggest challenges. It is a bit of a chicken and egg thing, in that once you get customers it's easier to get more customers but getting those first ones when you are small is very challenging.
That is changing, though, as more companies are looking for innovative solutions and willing to work with smaller companies, he said. “Given that the economic challenges the industry has, they are looking for every advantage they can gain through technology to make their operations more efficient and safe, and they realize that some of the solutions that are out there are not necessarily with the big companies they deal with, but small nimble startups, and they need to work with those companies. And a number of them have opened up innovation and automation groups and I think that is a real positive.”
Click here to read about all of the champions and finalists.