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SCADA Systems

Effectively operating oil and gas sites requires plenty of equipment, maintenance, and oversight. For the most part, this equipment is required to function in remote locations where no operator can physically be present. This poses many challenges for energy companies when it comes to overseeing a smooth operation process.

In the management of many of these complexities, oil and gas companies deploy SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) solutions for effectively monitoring and controlling these processes. A proper SCADA monitoring solution utilizes hardware and software to collect and transmit aggregated data about key points in the supply chain, as well as providing vital information about equipment functionality. This limits the number of visits to sites by operators, leading to more efficiency and better time management for employees. The data collected and transmitted by field equipment ensures that operations are smooth, processes are automatic, and corrective measures are quickly deployed when problems are detected.

In essence, SCADA systems are a highly configurable set of software apps that are used to support management improve almost any form of process production. Using a SCADA system to monitor the various elements of an oil and gas system can help energy firms reduce cost and increase efficiency. Additionally, SCADA systems can increase customer satisfaction and allow them to offer more competitive prices.

What is a SCADA System?

SCADA systems are highly distributed systems used to control geographically dispersed assets, often scattered over thousands of square kilometers, where centralized data acquisition and control are critical to system operation. They are used in distribution systems such as water distribution and wastewater collection systems, oil and gas pipelines, electrical power grids, and railway transportation systems. A SCADA control center performs centralized monitoring and control for field sites over long-distance communications networks, including monitoring alarms and processing status data. Based on information received from remote stations, automated or operator-driven supervisory commands can be pushed to remote station control devices, which are often referred to as field devices. Field devices control local operations such as opening and closing valves and breakers, collecting data from sensor systems, and monitoring the local environment for alarm conditions.

The traditional focus on field instrumentation and control systems has been on operational efficiency and maintenance of critical equipment. However, today a new emphasis on environmental stewardship has been added to field operations staff. Traditional SCADA systems can help but most of the pressure and temperature and flow measurements are on the “product” stream of oil and gas production and not on the “waste” stream of emissions for air and water quality. Some instrumentation can be placed on specific emissions processes (such as on a flare stack, injection well or on water quality analysis) but much of the data that needs to be collected about air quality will be from external monitoring systems such as the ones described in this lesson.

  1. Balsom, P., 2019, January 10, Oil and GAS MONITORING SYSTEMS: Scada Systems: High TIDE TECHNOLOGIES, (accessed Retrieved March 27, 2021).
  2. Stouffer, K. A., Falco, J. A., & Scarfone, K. A., 2006, Guide to Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Industrial Control Systems Security, Recommendations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Special Publication (800-82), doi:10.6028/nist.sp.800-82e2008.