Digital oilfield

Schlumberger, Rockwell Team Up To Take On Oilfield Automation

The world’s largest oilfield services firm and one of the largest providers of SCADA systems have formed a joint venture to create Sensia, an integrated automation suite.

Rockwell Automation’s headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Sensia is set to become the newest face of oilfield automation after Schlumberger and Rockwell Automation close a deal to form a joint venture by this summer.

Announced this week, the development is notable in that it will combine the forces of the world’s largest oilfield services firm with one of the world’s largest suppliers of industrial hardware and software. The new company will be based in Houston and may employ as many as 1,000 people.

The focus of the joint venture will be on deploying cloud-computing and edge-processing technologies to support field-automation programs. The competition in this corner of the digital market has heated up in recent years, both from small startups and large incumbent technology developers. Producers have been seeking out these new technologies to reduce the costs and human capital required to operate and expand their field operations.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Rockwell, along with its Alan-Bradley software unit, is known to most in the upstream industry for its dominant position in the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition systems) market. The partnership will bring Schlumberger further into the production sector, where it has established its own SCADA software. In recent years, the service giant has also expanded its role in artificial-lift services and products.

Rockwell will retain a 53% share of the new entity, with Schlumberger owning the remainder. Rockwell will also make a cash payment of $250 million to Schlumberger upon closing. The two companies say they expect Sensia will target producers in 80 countries and generate $400 million in annual revenue, more than 40% of which is expected to come from North America.

What Is It?
The companies say that Sensia will offer a fully integrated technology suite that is aimed at creating new efficiencies through measurement systems and data-driven automation. Their press release adds that this will include connecting field systems to enterprise networks (i.e., operational/information technology integration), which reflects an industrywide effort to increase the visibility office professionals have to the performance of wells and production facilities.

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that another objective is to enable improved machine-to-machine communications, which has long been a challenge in the proprietary world of oilfield automation hardware. The newspaper has also said that Sensia will touch drilling operations and be integrated with what Schlumberger calls its “rig of the future” drilling-advisory platform.

Sensia’s main application areas are

  • Wellhead monitoring
  • Artificial lift
  • Production facilities
  • Custody transfer
  • Terminals and storage
  • Pipelines
  • Subsea operations
  • Offshore production facilities

What the Companies Are Saying
“Currently, no single provider exists that offers the end-to-end solutions and technology platform that address these challenges. Sensia will be uniquely positioned to connect disparate assets and reduce manual processes with secure, scalable solutions that are integrated into one technology platform.”

—Blake Moret, chairman and chief executive officer, Rockwell

“This joint venture is the next step in our vision to offer our customers smart, connected devices with rich diagnostic capabilities, coupled with measurement, automation, and analytics that improve oilfield operations, facilitate business decisions, and reduce total cost of ownership throughout the life of a field.”

—Paal Kibsgaard, chief executive officer, Schlumberger