Impact of SCADA in the Oil & Gas Sector


The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system implies a supremely customizable and configurable set of commercial and industrial software applications. The system can be used to support the management of any process chain in the midstream and downstream oil and gas sectors. 

The midstream oil and gas sector requires distributed networks expanding over enormously long distances. These distances can range from many hectares for an end terminal tank farm to entire continents for a pipeline system. In other cases, installing and maintaining private or proprietary networks over these distances is not economically viable, particularly for pipelines. Thus, the need for remote measurement and analytics that is catered to by SCADA systems. Increasing demand for remote management of oil and gas pipelines, focus on process optimization through automation and digitalization, use of cloud computing services in the SCADA system, growing pipeline networks, and optimum and effective exploration of aging reservoirs make the SCADA and related measurement solutions perfect for solving all of the midstream oil and gas needs.

With the onset of several technologies like Industry 4.0, namely, Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), crucial data about the system, such as the dependable process parameters, can be collected on the SCADA platform. This data can be further analyzed by applying advanced statistical methods and tools to tweak the process parameters in a way that the overall process performance is enhanced. This will massively ramp up the overall process performance.

Market Overview

As per an analysis by MarketsandMarkets, the SCADA oil and gas market was valued at $3.27 billion in 2016 and is projected to be worth $4.52 billion by 2022, growing at a Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.77% between 2017 and 2022. Increased investments in pipeline networks, rising demand for remote management of oil and gas pipelines, and increased thrust on process optimization through automation and digitalization are expected to drive this market during the forecast period.

Based on the value stream, the market is segmented into upstream, midstream and downstream. Midstream is the largest segment in the market for SCADA oil and gas. Rising investments in pipeline infrastructure from countries such as the U.S., Canada, Russia, China and India is expected to boost the market growth in the near future.

Among regions, North America is expected to dominate this market in the coming years, owing to the increased investments in the pipeline infrastructure and adoption of cloud services in the region. Growing investments in refineries and exploration of new oil and gas fields in the U.S. and Canada are also expected to drive the demand for SCADA in the oil and gas industry in North America.

Declining and fluctuating oil and gas prices is expected to slow down the demand for the market in the years to come. However, the growth in R&D in the wireless sensor network and increased use of big data analytics offers lucrative opportunities for the market. Some of the leading players in this market include Yokogawa Electric Corporation (Japan), General Electric Company (U.S.), Honeywell International Inc. (U.S.), CygNet Software, Inc. (U.S.), Siemens AG (Germany), Schneider Electric SE (France), Rockwell Automation, Inc. (U.S.), PSI AG (Germany), Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (Japan), Orbcomm Inc. (U.S.), Iconics, Inc. (U.S.), International Business Machines Corporation (U.S.), TechnipFMC plc (UK), and Emerson Electric Co. (U.S.). New product launches and contracts and agreements were the most commonly adopted strategies by players to ensure their dominance in the market.

In the current industrial practices, there is a need for an enhanced level of standardization, modularization and application portability to benefit from investments made in this domain. There exist numerous applications previously developed on pipeline SCADA systems, which have been custom-built developments. These are made to fit the requirements of a particular project, within a specific and predefined set of circumstances. These were not specifically produced with portability, reusability, maintainability and enhanced life cycle in mind. 

With the ever-increasing pressure on modularization and its related advantages, the present-day SCADA system platform software allows the accommodation of standardized (pipeline) applications that can later be upgraded to newer versions of the system. The maintenance and upgrade of custom-made applications, as well as the protection of complex system architectures associated with them from cyber breaches and security compromises, pose an increasing threat to pipeline operators. The market is changing to increased operating system revisions. No two pipelines are identical, and the operational philosophies distinctly differ from one pipeline operator to the other; any standardized application will require continuous ramifications to the existing platform. Thus, the need of the hour is a flexible OS environment, which can modify and upgrade itself as per the system requirements, via an online upgrading model. In the downstream processes, SCADA being implemented is believed to possess these traits and characteristics.

Thus, in the oil and gas sector, the need is of a sustainable pipeline automation and application system that would ensure a successful return on investment. This favors an IT-friendly platform that facilitates standard functions for:

  • Management of processes
  • Open connectivity
  • Information, supervision, visualization and security


This will successfully provide the fundamental elements for any industry application, in line with pipeline management, to enable data and information consistency and security across the devised solution. This will eventually stop the waste of costly resources, eradicate the need for redevelopment efforts, and reduce the expenses of SCADA/MES software and application training programs. A system platform that would embrace these developments as an open application environment for pipeline SCADA is of paramount importance. It will allow a more seamless upgrade life cycle with minimal operational impact and at the same time with maximum efficiency. This will eventually provide the pipeline operator with the opportunity to keep the system continuously up-to-date within their operational expenditure budgets, so they can directly benefit from the new technology. All these factors will take pipeline operational excellence to the next level.

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