In a time when both regulations and money are tight, companies can't afford not to keep track of their energy consumption. Chem.Info sat down with Kevin Price, an EAM Product Director at Infor, to talk about some solutions to the challenges posed by maintaining energy usage sustainability.

What challenges does the oil & gas industry face in maintaining sustainability goals and energy consumption standards?

The biggest challenge the oil & gas industry faces in maintaining sustainability goals and energy consumption standards is the ever-changing compliance guidelines and regulations, along with the evolving standards to benchmark business practices. The industry faces an enormous evolving mountain of regulation and compliance issues, from those based on work and business processes, to environmental concerns, to typical accounting models. Keeping up with it all can certainly be a headache for nearly every industry, but even more so in the dynamic oil & gas industry, especially in North America. To meets these changing marks, one must not only have an extremely astute legal squad, but also acrobat-like flexibility in their system infrastructure to document, manage and produce reporting to the regulation standards.

Energy consumption will always be an issue. No matter which industry you operate in, on average nearly 60 percent of the cost to operate and maintain a piece of equipment is consumed by the energy required to keep it going (water, air, gas, electric, and/or steam).  Anything users can do to impact that monthly energy bill will significantly impact the bottom line results of costs attributed to production.

What are some of the trends you’ve seen the industry utilizing for energy monitoring?

Improved monitoring capabilities are becoming more open, which is a great indication that the industry is focusing more on energy monitoring. The migration of monitoring devices from analog to digital, what is being commonly referred to as the “Internet of Things,” drives much opportunity so we can understand our critical assets much better than we have in the past.

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) offer more of these digital touch points to their equipment than ever before. Analog to digital, aggregators, or data housing solutions are no longer required as much as they were in the past. With the right technology and architecture, the data that they monitor can now be communicated more readily, which provides a true indication that the industry is moving in the consumptively monitored direction.

What should companies consider before implementing an energy monitoring system?

Companies should always ask the basic question, “Why?”  Why are you implementing a monitoring system, what are the impacts to the bottom line of the business and are the results of the implementation measurable?  Clearly understanding the answers to these questions is critical as you begin to incorporate energy monitoring into the enterprise. As anyone who has done it can attest, the approach is not as easy as it seems – there are considerations to make regarding the personnel in the organization, as well as hardware, software, and network capabilities in play to make it all work, and continuous commissioning exercises that demand constant evolution. The level of quantifiable depth of each of these assets is what will make or break an energy monitoring system implementation in any enterprise.

What kind of results do these systems offer – in terms of cost savings and emissions?

Results of incorporating energy monitoring vary based on the nature of the industry, environment, approaches utilized and more. On average, however, a conservative impact to the bottom line of energy consumption and related cost should be between 6 and 10 percent, which is a commonly significant number, especially given the growing cost of energy!

Infor solutions are designed to monitor critical assets at any level through any medium (SCADA, PLC, Sub Meter, Monitoring System). They can also help to document, manage and produce reporting to the regulation standards; their design allows systems to be implemented much faster in more targeted use areas. Monitoring for energy consumption and performance, however, is only one step of the process – one has to do something with that data in their work and business process once an opportunity is found, which is where benchmarking consumption works for improvement comes into play.