Houston pipeline and refinery operator Phillips 66 is testing a private 5G cell phone network to enable a network of sensors at one of the company’s facilities in Louisiana.
Phillips 66 tapped consulting firm Accenture and mobile phone service provider AT&T for the project at the company’s Belle Chase refinery, about 10 miles south of New Orleans.
The private 5G towers are used to provide wireless service to a network of sensors placed throughout the refinery. Known as Industrial Internet of Things technology, the wireless network is used to monitor equipment and in some cases, provide alerts when certain conditions occur.
Touted as a proof of concept project, the 5G network’s launch comes at a time when the oil and natural gas industry is adopting increasingly sophisticated digital tools that require more bandwidth and faster Internet service as well as cutting costs to adapt to record low oil prices and increasing remote operations to keep workers safe from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Mobile applications are central to our day-to-day business activities — we use them for safety inspection forms for oil distillation units, capacity tracking and more — so connectivity is critical to keeping our operations running,” Phillips 66 Chief Digital and Administrative Officer Zhanna Golodryga said. “The results of the proof of concept are promising.”