Offshore oil and gas exploration continues to expand at a rapid pace by taking advantage of new technologies that allow operators to access energy sources farther away from shore than ever before. As offshore rigs, ships, floating storage and offload facilities and other vessels multiply and spread into deeper waters, the need for coordination between offshore vessels and with onshore facilities increases greatly.
Advancements in industrial technology, changes in business models and tighter regulatory constraints necessitate closer monitoring, more remote control and maintenance of equipment, and more offloading of tasks and personnel from offshore to onshore locations. These trends greatly increase demand for capacity of offshore communications. Microwave is a much more cost-effective solution than marine optical fiber and it greatly surpasses the capacity and latency capabilities of traditional satellite communications.
Ceragon’s unique, innovative solution (Pointlink and Evolution Long Haul) for microwave communications is the optimal technology for offshore applications.
Offshore Transport Network Challenges and Requirements
Integrated operations (IO) is an evolving work methodology for offshore oil and gas exploration, extraction and production. As its name implies, IO involves the interconnection and integration of facilities, knowledge, business units, processes, stakeholders and other resources and activities through intense use of information and communication technology (ICT). Whether the requirement is for:
Always-on video-conferencing rooms between offshore facilities and onshore offices
Broadband access throughout platforms for collecting data
Remote control of mechanical and electrical equipment
Advancements in geological models and visualization
Constant monitoring, logging and analysis of data coming from offshore operations by experts
Internet access and television for the well being of offshore workers
Integrated operations signifies a breakthrough in the oil and gas industry. The ability to be virtually present on a rig from any location in the world provides an economy of scale that allows for reduction of the offshore workforce moving skilled and experienced professionals to safer onshore facilities where they can access and analyze data from multiple locations and mitigate risks in decision-making. IO is expected to streamline business processes with some estimates predicting a 2-5% increase in oil and gas recovery, a 3-8% increase in production, a 15-30% reduction in operational expenditures and a 2-8% increase in well performance combined with a 25% reduction in offshore workforce.
Integrated Operation Enabled by Offshore Microwave Communications
Ceragon’s Unique Offshore Communications - The PointLink Solution
Ceragon’s PointLink solution is an advanced microwave radio link system designed to provide connectivity on moving objects like platforms, drilling rigs, floating production and storage ships (FPSO) and the like. The solution consists of Ceragon’s advanced Evolution Series Long Haul radio system connected to PointLink gyro-stabilized antennas which keep constant track and perfect alignment with their counterparts on offshore vessels and on land-based facilities. Overcoming the technological and physical challenges associated with standard microwave, the unique PointLink solution enables the application of highly efficient and cost-effective microwave communications for offshore links.
High availability and reliability:
Integrates highly reliable microwave equipment with customized antenna stabilization technologies and resilient paths.
Features quad diversity consisting of two antennas on each side of the transmission, where each side transmits two identical signals at different frequencies from spatially separated antennas and receives both signals also by spatially separated antennas.
A PointLink stabilized platform accommodates parabolic antennas with diameters from 0.3 m/1 ft. to 3.0 m/10 ft. in various frequency bands depending on antenna size.
The Evolution Series
Paired with the Pointlink solution, Ceragon’s long distance/high power equipment, the Evolution Series, is designed for long-haul applications with powerful transmitters and high system gain, enabling reliable communications over long distances. The current distance-over-water offshore link record holder is a PointLink system connecting mainland Norway to the Yme oil rig in the North Sea where the link spans 123 kilometers (Case study is available here).
Durability in the marine environment: Evolution Series radios designated for offshore installations are specially coated for resistance to harsh marine environments.
Enclosed in a protective radome.
Provide 1024 QAM modulation to increase spectral efficiency and transmit over 250 Mbps of Ethernet traffic over a single 28MHz channel.
Certified to comply with ATEX Zone 1 and 2 requirements.
Native Ethernet radios with a built-in QoS mechanism to handle prioritized traffic that supports differentiation of services as it guarantees bandwidth and appropriate latency for mission-critical services.
Offshore communications present many challenges to network planners and operators. The transition to deep-sea fields with moving installations together with the shift toward Integrated Operations and stricter safety and environmental regulations raise demand for high-capacity, reliable, and safe mission-critical communications systems. Microwave is the most cost-efficient solution for connecting offshore operations among themselves and to onshore locations. Ceragon’s unique PointLink solution with Evolution Series radios and GPS gyro-stabilized antennas proves to be the most reliable and resilient solution for this application.