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Finding the Best Remote Terminal Unit for Your Oil and Gas Remote Sites

remote terminal unit oil

There's a famous black-and-white photo of Long Beach, California, from the 1920s. Beachgoers swarm the sands, and even without color, you can see it's a beautiful California day. Behind them, incongruent, are hundreds of huge oil derricks, mere yards from the people and the ocean. The derricks, like the people, are having a delightful day at the beach. Still, as any oil or gas person will tell you, they are few and far between.

As the global energy market has grown, drilling locations have grown more remote and exist in rugged places. Their remoteness means that they need to be remotely monitored and that the monitoring equipment themselves have to be able to stand up to the harsh conditions.

Finding the best remote terminal units for your oil and gas remote sites requires a system for monitoring pressure, temperature, signals, and everything else. And you need that system to be reliable.

The Need For Remote Terminal Units at Oil and Gas Sites

Now, we don't mean to say that oil pumps in urban locations, like the ones hidden in Los Angeles or in plain view in Oklahoma City, don't ever need to be monitored. They always do. Even in the most pristine locations, oil and gas extraction is a complex, precise, and potentially dangerous operation.

And that's the point. Wherever your oil and gas equipment is, there is the potential for something to go wrong. If it's in a remote location upstream, you probably won't have someone watching it. That means you might not know there's a potential problem until something goes really wrong, unless you have a remote terminal unit system.

Remote Monitoring System

A remote terminal unit (RTU) is part of a broader remote monitoring system. An RTU is programmed to monitor equipment or activity throughout your system. One RTU might be checking engine temperature. If it starts to get too high (or low) that triggers an alert which it sends to a master station control center.

RTUs with Attached Sensors

From there, the master station might take a series of actions. It could send pings to other RTUs to get more information. Depending on how extreme the temperature is, it could perform an automatic shutdown. It could slow down operations. And it will certainly alert the right people, sending an email or a text to them. All of this is determined in its programming.

That's just one RTU. Any individual unit could have dozens of RTUs. An oil or gas well monitoring system can measure events including:

  • Equipment (wellheads, flare stacks, return lines, etc.)
  • Equipment temperature (for tanks, pipes, compressors, reactors)
  • Safety equipment (spark protection, pressure valves, sand back-flow monitors)
  • Power (electric, generator, battery)
  • Environmental (carbon redirection, flare stack gas, heat recapture, and more)

Basically, if something can go wrong, it can be monitored and better maintained. More information helps you make better decisions about your remote sites. But in order to keep your system running, you need the right RTUs.

What Makes the Best RTU For Your Oil and Gas Remote Site?

So how do you choose the best remote terminal unit (RTU) for your oil and gas remote site?

What are the key factors? We've boiled it down to a few.


You are going to want a rugged RTU that withstands freezing cold, boiling heat, extreme rain and wind, and whatever else the elements throw its way. What rugged means is that it can transmit information even when times are challenging and that it can continue to work with little or no maintenance.

Power Efficiency

RTUs should not use up a lot of power. You want to conserve power on your sites so an RTU that works efficiently with a long life helps you lower costs and increase uptime.

SCADA Integration

Chances are, you already have some kind of remote monitoring system. It might be patchwork, and it might come from several vendors. You'll want an RTU that can integrate with your existing SCADA system as you continue to upgrade. If you can do a complete overhaul, you'll need the new equipment to fit right in.

There's more to it than just the RTU itself, of course. You'll want a partner who understands the extraction industry and can help you customize your RTU system for your exact needs.

You'll want a partner who can offer you the training and support to make sure you have consistent uptime in your remote monitoring system.

If you have a team that is ready to work with you to deliver a personalized solution, you'll have what it takes to monitor your oil and gas remote sites, no matter how remote they may be. And while this may never be an easy industry, that kind of information can make it feel like a day at the beach.

DPS Telecom has the experience and expertise to help companies monitor what matters most - including remote terminal equipment for your oil and gas remote sites. Our technicians can work with you to install RTUs with easy-to-use interfaces for more automatic responses. Reach out and get a quote today!

Image courtesy Shutterstock