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Wed 23 May 2007 11:01 AM

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Five years until wireless rules the rig

Wireless technology will make a big impact on the oil and gas industry in the next five years, according to a visiting expert.

Wireless technology will make a big impact on the oil and gas industry in the next five years, according to a visiting expert.

Speaking at an oil and gas conference in Dubai, Leif Eriksen, director of the energy and utilities industry solutions group at Symbol Technologies, recently acquired by Motorola, admitted that the current level of wireless penetration in the global oil and gas industry was low, but said the concept had been attracting a "tremendous amount of interest" on his visit to the Middle East.

"Today, the penetration of wireless in the oil and gas industry worldwide is less than 10%," he said. "Having wireless and having it widely-used are two different things. If somebody says they have wireless, they may have it in an office or a warehouse but not necessarily in every facility.

"BP was one of the first to adopt wireless in their refineries and offshore rigs, and even BP has less than 20-25% deployment. At this point there is still a lot of room for growth.

"I would say that five years from now, wireless technology will be widely deployed in the oil and gas industry in all sorts of forms - not just through wifi or wireless LAN but also through things like RFID (radio frequency identification) and wireless sensor networks," Eriksen added.

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