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Remote Comms For Exploration + Production An ND SatCom Perspective
By Volker Jarsch, Director Satcom Solutions, ND SatCom GmbH


Communication via satellite is the most reliable method to reach off-shore and remote sites. Engineers and supporting staff must have good voice quality and stable data transmissions among all of the relevant sites.

The oil and gas (O&G) drilling business depends on real-time, direct connectivity with the customer’s engineering lab. Information gained at the drilling site needs to be transmitted without delay to the lab for analysis by the geologists and their supporting tools. In turn, the drilling process is controlled in real-time by control information that is created at the lab. Surveillance of remote installations, pipeline sections and video reporting of relevant events require broadband transmissions from one or more sites to the company headquarters, as well as to the headquarters in the region where the drilling and the production occur.

Current mainstream SATCOM solutions fall short in fulfilling these evolving requirements which, in turn, force companies to compromise on functions that truly challenge technical capabilities. Point-to-point connections with dedicated satellite capacity meet the requirement for single-hop connectivity, but are constrained in fixed bandwidth. They are expensive—not all of the capacity of each link is used all the time, and parallel connections between multiple sites require cumulative space capacity—i.e.,they are insufficient and unnecessarily expensive for O&G applications.

The typically-offered star networks with one central site at a service provider’s main location does allow for some cost reduction. However, the routing of all traffic via that one central site (which is typically not at the oil company’s headquarters) means double hops or dependency on additional terrestrial routes to reach the relevant company locations. This makes star networks unable to fulfill the requirement for single hop connectivity. Additionally, the forwarding of guaranteed high quality video using multicast from remote sites directly to one or several company sites processing this information is a challenging task.

Oil rig in Trinidad. Photo courtesy of ND SatCom.

Enabling Agile Networks
ND SatCom’s new satellite communications platform—SKYWAN 5G—overcomes these handicaps and fulfills the requirements of drilling, exploration and transport in an ideal way: Small private networks become cost effective and the communication is fully within the enterprise’s sphere. Single hop connectivity between exploration sites, drilling sites, pipeline stations, labs, and management sites or headquarters allow best voice quality for phone, excellent real-time quality for data, fully automatic IP-routing, and best video quality for surveillance and analysis, all at acceptable investment and operational costs.

Companies providing communication services for O&G enterprises can differentiate their offering from that of the competition by providing individual SKYWAN 5G network structures which optimally fit the requirements of their end customers. Agile network connectivity is enabled, without double hops. Your time critical data is transmitted in single-hop directly from their origin to their destination site; avoiding double hops and extra delays.

Bandwidth is allocated as required—connections adapt to the different traffic types, i.e., video gets more bandwidth capacity and committed real-time quality to achieve the best possible image resolution. If required, fast file transfers get all of the available capacity at a certain point and are completed in the shortest possible time. This dynamic allocation of bandwidth brings substantial savings on satellite capacity cost as the overall network capacity can be reduced, thanks to the statistical effects and mix of traffic in the entire network. Simultaneously, the users feels their traffic is transmitted faster than using mainstream solutions.

The savings can be further increased through the integration of all types of sites into a single network: off-shore platforms, ships, fixed sites, land-mobile and transportable sites and moving vehicles can all communicate in one single project or company specific network. The network can then be seamlessly integrated with the IT environment of the company and still provide controlled interfaces to public networks. Point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, and multipoint-to-point connectivity, including automatic routing of IP traffic, make the SKYWAN 5G the platform of choice for companies who have the need for a certain type of connectivity today with a look forward to what may be needed in the future.

A SKYWAN 5G network guarantees highest availability due to unique redundancy and diversity concepts. Handling and maintenance of your dedicated or virtual private network, which could also be managed by the service provider of your choice, is about as easy as it gets. Best of all, there is complete independence of terrestrial networks and uncontrollable routes.

For additional information, please visit http://www.ndsatcom.com/