Rockwell Sees Shale Oil Boom Adding $100 Million to Sales

The U.S. shale oil and gas boom will help add $100 million to Rockwell Automation Inc.’s sales in about two years as drillers look to monitor production wells with wireless sensors, Chief Executive Officer Keith Nosbusch said.

Energy companies can increase efficiency by as much as 20 percent by remotely monitoring wells to adjust optimal pumping speed or to detect problems without having to send technicians to hundreds of drilling sites, Nosbusch said in an interview today in Houston.

“We think this is a great opportunity to bring technology to existing wells not just new ones,” he said during the Milwaukee-based company’s annual automation fair. “The number of wells that can be instrumented is quite significant.”

Production from shale formations will help the U.S. surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer by 2015 and be close to energy self-sufficiency in the next two decades, the International Energy Agency said today in its annual World Energy Outlook.

The payback for investment to create the “digital oil field” is less than a year for some wells, Nosbusch said. The technology resolves companies’ difficulties finding qualified personnel because several wells can be remotely monitored from one station, he said.

The wireless sensors also adapt well to the water and mining industries, he said, but didn’t quantify the sales potential.

Rockwell, which makes equipment and software for improving factory efficiency, had revenue of $6.35 billion in the fiscal year that ended in September.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.