When Broadband Offshore Communication makes sense

Broadband Offshore Communication (BOC) is THE enabler of new high tech solutions that make offshore operations safer, less costly to operate and help create values to the field stakeholders

Introduction
Offshore Broadband Communication has been used in limited bandwidth for as many years as satellite and radio links have existed offshore, e.g for several decades. This communication has functioned very well, as long as safe operations were not dependent on such communication. New technologies make more efficient utilization of reservoirs possible and desirable. For this reason the communication banswidth and regularity has been ramped up substantially through introduction and tie-in of Fiber Optical cable network rings that have proven to be very stable, or better than 99.8% uptime over the past 16 years. This is as long as dedicated cables have been connected to platforms through fiber rings.

It is probably not reasonable to consider connecting every platform in with fiber optical cables due to cost, even if it would be the safest and technically preferrable. For this reason a combination of fiber optical cables to hub platforms, combined with radio links and / or satellite links is a good compromise that provide good enablers for enhanced safety and value creation for the field partners.

BOC ring picture

  • 1. BOC is a mature technology, and most surprises are eliminated with regards to system componenents. There is ongoing development of the technology components, but this mainly concern improvement of the bandwidth.
  • 2. Methods for installation of cable systems is still ongoing, as more and more cables are installed in and on the seabed. Facilium has performed R&D activities regarding installation.
  • 3. Fiber optical Cable (FOC) systems require upfront capital expenditure, and moderate operating costs. The main question is who should be responsible for development of FOC systems, and especially fiber optical network systems? So far all BOC systems have been developed because oil companies (field operators) decided to purchase certain amounts of capacity (ref. the Southern Allience and Chevron who started the trend in 1998 in the North Sea region). Initially regular telecommunications companies, some oil companies and government organizations companies invested in these systems. Eventually specialized offshore communications companies acquired and / or operate the existing networks, at least in Europe and the Gulf of Mexico. In order to get more networks in place, it is quite likely that the parties that have long term interest in efficient offshore communication, e.g. government organizations and national oil companies are probably best placed to initiate and take the lead in network ring developments in different regions and countries. Commercial oilcompanies still need to be educated about their role and benefits by using BCO systems backed by FOC networks.
  • 4. Satellite and Radio Link systems require less initial capital. Operating costs for satellite communication can be substantial for higher band width, while maintenance cost and hassles can be on the high side for radio links. Standardisation may help to keep maintenance cost down.

The cost of Broadband Offshore Communications is very marginal compared to the potential for value creation and increased safety

Who would benefit from Broadband Offshore Communication

Philosophically speaking: the whole world, because the cost of energy should be kept at reasonable levels for all, the risks of working offshore are significant and more values, more efficiency, can be achieved with BOC compared to the traditional ‘mechanical and manual’ mode of operation. The bonus is that environmental benefits can be achieved.

Nationally: The owners of the oil in the ground, the various nations will maintain higher GDPs through higher and longer oil revenues. BOC help enabling increased and safer production.

Operators and License Partners: This is trickier, because they have the burden of use or refuse new technology, while not reaping the main benefits of the value creation. Still, BOC will provide many benefits, and the question is what role you may play in developing / using BOC in your area? If any of these following statements make sense, please contact us Facilium for more information:

  • Finding more effective solutions for operation of oil & gas fields is important
  • Field lifetime cost of operation is critical for maximum results (bottom line)
  • Field life time is important
  • You represent a national oil company or a national telecommunication company and want to create a potentially good business which will benefit your country
  • Investment in field enhancement methods, including IO, is in the field development plan
  • Investment in LoFS is considered

Then by contacting us we can assist in the understanding further values and a business case

If none of the above issues are important, please talk to someone in your organization who may have such plans or requirements, so that we can substantiate our statements.