Digital Oilfields

Request Number N770328
Need details

At Tata Steel, we are continuously looking for ways to add value to our products. One key market sector in which we operate is in the Energy & Power industry where, among others, we supply subsea oil and gas pipelines globally. We are interested in an integrated pipe system with sensing capabilities. Our current focus is in sensor technologies that can be applied to our pipes.



With crude oil prices at an all-time low, pipeline operators are increasingly seeking new ways to manage operations. One philosophy which has garnered much attention is the concept of ‘Digital Oilfields’ – essentially intelligent, data driven operations of installations and pipelines. 


To empower our customers to achieve the vision of having fully ‘Digital’ operations, we are seeking ways to add intelligent capabilities to the pipes we supply to our customers in the form of remote sensing capabilities. Our vision is to have an advanced pipe that has an embedded sensor system capable of continuous, real-time monitoring of parameters that are important to our customers.


Measurement parameters that we are particularly interested in are:

  • Corrosion
  • Pipe wall thickness
  • Flow rates
  • Cracks
  • Temperature
  • Wax deposits (These builds up as a result of cold subsea temperature surrounding the pipe, can lead to clogging of pipes)


Key Success Criteria

The sensors should be capable of operating independently without any intervention in subsea conditions for prolonged periods of time, preferably over the design lifetime of the pipelines (20 to 30 years).

The challenges that we have identified so far:

  • Miniaturisation: Our goal is to have a non-interfering system e.g. little to no specification changes to the pipes that customers use to avoid unnecessary integration work. A potential placement for the sensor system could be in between the external pipe coatings and the base pipe. As such, the range of sizes for the sensors are limited by what can fit into the limited space available. 
  • Power Efficiency: Power is at a premium subsea. We are looking for solutions that are capable of powering themselves over the entire design lifetime of the pipe.
  • Ruggedness: The solution has to be able to comfortably survive harsh subsea conditions. These include temperature swings (3°C to 150°C), high pressures >300bars,vibrations & shock, corrosion, salinity & water seepage.


Possible Approaches
Several technologies have been considered internally (listed below) and we are keen to hear about them and possibilities offered by them, however, we are also open to any solutions that meet our key success criteria outlined above. 
  • Technologies such as printed electronics and piezoelectric coatings / paint offers the possibility of having the sensory system in a form factor that can easily be embedded into the pipes.
  • Efficient thermoelectric generators and piezoelectric harvesters offers crucial energy harvesting capabilities necessary to power the sensor system for prolonged periods of time. 


Approaches not of interest



Preferred Collaboration types
  • To Be Negotiated
Items to be submitted

We are looking for a concise abstract/executive summary.  The proposal should briefly describe the technical approach and provide information on technology performance, background and description of the responding team and their related experience.

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Point of Contact
Oliver Worsfold
Area of Interest
  • Electronics & Electronic Components
  • Electronic Component Manufacturing
Tata Steel
Due Date
March 7, 2017
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