Monitoring Device Rolled Out to Meet Electric-Powered Pump Jack Needs

A Calgary-based Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) technology firm is seeking to fulfill what the company sees as an unmet need for technology to remotely monitor electric-powered pump jack wells.

Ambyint this week rolled out its ambyControl for Electric Prime Mover device, which instantly links any electric motor-operated oil wells to the Ambyint platform. Nav Dhunay, the company’s president and CEO, told Rigzone that the device gives operators a means to control these electric giants with intelligence.

Dhunay explained to Rigzone that pump jacks are either natural gas or electric-powered. The problem with electric-powered pump jacks is that there wasn’t much operators could do in terms of remotely operating or optimizing wells. So technicians would have to be sent out to either turn off the pump jack motor or restart the motor if it had shut down. Dhunay said the company’s new device can provide visibility into the operation of the motor and how hard it’s working. Having this data can allow operators to predict the failure of their motors and what’s happening with their oil wells, such as whether paraffin or wax buildup was occurring.

“Our goal wasn’t just about well performance but about the motor itself,” Dhunay commented. “Companies will run a motor hard and not realize it. Then they have to replace the motor in a year or two because they don’t have the data on how hard the motor is working.”

The device allows for well operations to be remotely stopped and starting, either from a mobile handheld device or from the company office. This includes monitoring torque and abnormal pump activity in real-time. The device can be used on any size wells, whether high-performing or stripper wells. The ability to shut-in wells remotely also can help reduce costs, Dhunay said. In Alberta, more oil producers are using time-of-use meters, which means that running a pump jack is more costly in on-peak versus off-peak hours.

“If you think about the Canadian oil market, 80 percent of the wells are pump jacks, and of that 80 percent, 80 percent are electric-powered pump jack wells,” Dhunay said, adding that the device addresses an unmet need. No solutions have been available to remotely operate and optimize electric-powered pump jacks due to connectivity issues and the inability to understand data.

“Most people would say, what can I get from current?” Dhunay explained. “Unless you’re an electrician, you won’t understand. We take the guess work out and do the analysis for them, using information such as torque and horsepower, in a form that operators will understand.”

A big part of the company’s core offering is reducing amount of travel, said Dhunay. More vehicle traffic on Alberta roads means more safety risks due to accidents. Not requiring people to monitor and service wells on-site will cut down on that traffic.

Dhunay said there will always be a need for devices that allow operators to remotely monitor wells. It can help companies fill a gap left after layoffs, and monitor wells even after oil prices recover.

“We can’t go back to doing things the way we’ve done them. We can’t just say, because prices are higher, let’s go hire a bunch of people,” Dhunay said, adding that the focus is more on profitability of wells versus having people on sight.

Previously known as PumpWELL, Ambyint last year transformed itself into an IoT technology provider to optimize oilfield operations.

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com

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