Sunday, May 10, 2009

IP over Mud

Remember cows with blogs? Sure ya do. This week I was talking M2M technology again, but with people who are way more hardcore about it than Scottish farmers wanting to give their cows RSS feeds, or even wind turbine engineers wanting to monitor the state of their bearings and power-control electronics. Putting control logic on the seabed is problematic, but putting it at the end of a drill, thousands of feet below it, at silly temperatures?

That's science fiction, but the scary bit was the communications question. You can't really do anything like that with radio, so they modulate the flow of drilling mud up to the surface to squeeze out a few bits/second of bandwidth. Seriously - it's called mud-pulse telemetry. Of course, as you can only hope for 3 or so bits a second at the depths in question, this is why the control logic needs to be down at the drill and largely automatic.

We are, of course, talking oil here, and specifically the ultra-deepwater stuff BG Group has hacked out a speciality in. What struck me is that people constantly talk of the supposed complexity and difficulty of utilising renewable energy, and they tend to assume that oil is simple to extract. Intelligent drills and mud-pulse telemetry to you.

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