How SINOPEC Tracks Drill Pipes In Oilfields

Updated: Dec 25, 2020

China’s Sinopec uses Xerafy Xplorer RFID tags to track drill pipes at its Shengli oilfield

Sinopec's Shengli oilfield

Chinese petroleum and chemical corporation Sinopec Shengli Oilfield is using Xerafy’s Xplorer RFID tags in field tests to track the downhole pipes on its onshore oil site, believed to be the first UHF RFID application of its kind in the oil and gas industry. Leveraging RFID traceable drill pipes, the Shengli Oilfield is able to track 1,380 drill pipes at seven well sites using RFID handheld readers and software supplied by VictorySoft. The pilot operation took around three months with every well opening a depth of approximately 2,500 meters. For the next stage, a well-centered antenna will be put in place to read the tag as the pipe moves through it while being tripped. With the success of the pilot, the Shengli Oilfield expects to substantially expand the deployment of Xplorer tags to additional drill strings and sites in 2016.

Xerafy Xplorer is a patent-pending, UHF RFID tag that is constructed with high-strength steel and polymer, and is specially designed to be embedded in a hole milled into the drill joint to track each individual pipe. Using RFID is key to improving the previously impossible task of tracking and capturing data on the individual pipes. Shengli Oilfield did not have an efficient way of managing their drilling pipes. The pipes were counted manually before and after the drilling process, which resulted in inaccurate inventory management, inefficient asset utilization, and potential safety risk.

Drill pipe management at Sinopec Shengli oilfield

The ability to now track individual joints of drill pipe has opened up new possibilities for improved documentation and process efficiency resulting in cost savings and risk reduction. Regulatory requirements, weather, and operating conditions make China’s oilfields one of the most challenging asset management environments on earth. During tripping operations, the drill pipes are exposed to high temperature, extreme pressure and vibrations, and chemical corrosion.

The Xplorer tag links to data including the ID number, steel number, size and weight, production information, last usage information, asset maintenance records, and other important information. The stored information is transmitted to VictorySoft’s tracking system. By using a handheld RFID reader, the staff has been able to access key information both before and after scanning all drill pipes and will be able to get real-time visibility when the assets need cleaning and maintenance, including when the drills need to be scrapped. This greatly reduces the risk of leakage and rupture accidents which can cause the expedition to fail. With the timely collection of raw data, management can use the data on-site to make quick and accurate decisions. 

“Sinopec Shengli Oilfield has been on a lookout for many years the implementation of an intelligent solution to identify and manage drill pipes to improve performance and reduce costs,” said Xu Haiting, general manager of VictorySoft’s technical development department. “Xerafy’s Xplorer has opened up many important possibilities by allowing the operator to have traceability and advanced information of their processes throughout the tripping operation. The success of this RFID program validates the readiness — and value — of Xerafy Xplorer UHF RFID technology for drill pipe tracking.”