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2022 has proven to be a tough environment to conduct business for almost every industry. In the oil and gas sector, it has been incredibly difficult to keep remote staff safe and efficient during a global pandemic and also a challenge to reduce costs and carbon output while maintaining or increasing oil and gas production. 

The Wall Street Journal reported last August that “Baker Hughes and Schlumberger both had two-thirds of their drilling activity supported by remote work during the second quarter of the year. For Schlumberger, this was up 25% from the first quarter. For Baker Hughes, it was up 20%.”

Analyst firm Gartner Group also noted in its 2021 report, "The Top 10 Oil and Gas Trends to Watch," that “Oil and gas CIOs must be aware of these trends, including accelerating digital innovation, rethinking vendor partnerships and reacting to climate change, to ensure that their organizations are agile and resilient in an increasingly complex future.”

So, imagine if operators had the option to allow a large majority of their remote workforce to remain at home and simultaneously reduce their costs and company’s carbon footprint? Today that is absolutely possible with the Harvest Technology suite of products. 

Harvest Technology Group
With RiS, teams can do their jobs from onshore operation centers anywhere in the world and simultaneously support multiple projects. (Source: Harvest Technology Group)

A focus on offshore safety and communication

Many of the original team members at Harvest are ex-offshore people, so they all have practical experience with this problem. And it is a real issue across industries. That is why the company was born into the offshore sector. When working offshore, companies always look for safety first, and the biggest focus is how to reduce the requirement for people to work in a remote environment. The answer to that question is quite simple: solve the communication problem. 

So how does it work? Harvest designed its products to enable live audio, data and video transfer through proprietary technology protocols and systems, which allows engineers and operators to undertake and manage complex tasks remotely from the safety and comfort of their homes or office. This translates to a significantly more efficient decision-making process and ensures users have the best and brightest making the call. It also drastically reduces site HSE exposure hours and the cost and carbon exposure of fixed-wing and helicopter crew transfers. It also reduces potential COVID-19 exposure points providing greater confidence in operational continuity.

The concept of remote work certainly isn't new. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a revolution in non-office-based working through collaboration software supported by robust 4G/5G or fiber-optic connectivity. Unfortunately, remote locations, either offshore on platforms, rigs or vessels or onshore mine sites, typically do not have such an economic, reliable and robust communication architecture. In these harsh environments, large-scale remote working or remote control would usually be restricted or unavailable due to low bandwidth networks and unreliable satellite communications. However, Harvest's Remote Inspection System (RiS) solves these communication issues and provides a reliable, effective remote working user experience for staff. 

Harvest Technology Group
With RiS, technical experts don't need to travel to remote or dangerous locations, resulting in significant cost savings, reduced environmental impact and improved asset and personnel safety. (Source: Harvest Technology Group)

RiS became publicly available in March 2022 and is built on Harvest’s transfer protocol called Nodestream, which maximizes bandwidth utilization to enable ultralow bandwidth consumption and provides the ability to switch between command locations via the Nodester control application. RiS enables remote work by optimizing existing networks to reduce bandwidth utilization by as much as 80% while delivering unprecedented reliability with up to 90% packet loss allowed without any loss of control. Packet loss occurs when data do not reach its destination after transmission across a network. This technology enables remote workers to transmit high-definition video, synchronized data and high-quality audio from any site to another via a secure local area network (LAN) using military-grade encryption, even when connectivity is low or unreliable. 

The solution applies to various industries, including energy and resources, defense, first responders and emergency services, agriculture and uncrewed vehicles. RiS is part of Harvest's group of companies' product line that is revolutionizing remote field services with ultralow bandwidth Network Optimized Livestreaming solutions that enable customers to stay connected to operations and personnel anywhere in the world while utilizing a fraction of existing bandwidth resources.

RiS allows upstream oil and gas operators to transition their assets, engineers and inspection surveyors from offshore platforms, vessels and rigs worldwide to local onshore operation centers or even their offices. They can receive the video and data to conduct inspections and make critical decisions without going on site. Harvest believes this can transform how the sector manages remote operations by improving asset and people safety while reducing environmental impact and operational costs.

ESG goals

What if a company's team could do their job from an onshore operation center anywhere in the world and simultaneously support multiple projects? This could attract a more diverse group of engineers and operators if employees could conduct their work from their home or an office and have more time with their families. An organization's sustainability goals should include reducing its carbon footprint by cutting travel. RiS can help with these goals. 

About the author: Paul Guilfoyle is group CEO with Harvest Technology Group.