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Markets: Industrial, Oil & Gas

Partners: Applied Satellite Technology (AST), Thales

Iridium Certus® Enables Remote Monitoring Of Sub-Sea Systems

At A Glance:

  1. The Challenge

    One of the world’s largest oil and gas service companies required a reliable solution to remotely operate an oil rig without the use of an expensive sub-sea wired connection.

  2. The Solution

    Iridium partner AST built a completely custom solution using Iridium Certus® terminals that allowed the team to remotely retrieve data, control subsea equipment, and execute valve commands and safety tasks in real-time from the control center on the FPSO.

  3. The Impact

    The bespoke Iridium Connected® solution was quickly implemented, allowing services to begin in under a year at a much lower cost than alternative solutions.

  1. 25kilometers between MCS and FPSO
  2. 9months from field discovery to startup

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The Challenge

One of the world’s largest oil and gas service companies required a tailored solution that would allow engineers to remotely operate an oil rig. The company required a communications connection between its Master Control Station (MCS) on the oil rig and the floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, which resided approximately 25 kilometers away off the coast of West Africa.

Traditionally, data communications between an offshore rig and an FPSO vessel uses a subsea wired connection in which a cable attached to both vessels is placed on the seabed to enable communications between the two. Because of the distance between this rig and the FPSO vessel, laying a subsea cable was not financially feasible.

The Solution

Using Iridium Certus broadband services, Iridium partner AST developed a completely customized solution that provided a secure IP connection to both the engineers aboard the oil rig and the FPSO vessel. Delivered via two Thales VesseLINK terminals in each location, Iridium Certus allowed the team to remotely retrieve data, control the subsea equipment, and execute valve commands and safety tasks in real-time from the control center on the FPSO.

This reliable connection provided redundant, secure connectivity and failover to the MCS. The Iridium Certus broadband service utilized encrypted data channels to protect the data in transit. With no internet breakout, this encrypted data never left the Iridium network, providing additional security, as well as minimizing latency and improving overall system performance.

Additionally, AST integrated the technology directly into the Iridium® gateway to enable efficient, optimized connections. This allowed the solution to operate independently of any other network or communications system on either the FPSO or rig, meaning it continued to provide connectivity even when other onboard systems could not.

The Impact

Iridium Certus was quickly installed and activated on the oil rig to provide reliable remote monitoring and control services, maximizing operational time for the crew. This solution played an essential role in this fast-moving project, breaking records as the producer went from field discovery to start-up in just nine months.

Additionally, the Thales VesseLINKs protected by custom-build hardware from AST required minimal maintenance, bringing the total cost of ownership of this solution far below that of installing a wired subsea connection.

The AST team worked with our Energy Technology partner and Iridium to design this unique solution from proof of concept through to the fully deployed system in record time. Our bespoke solution enables remote operations and allows us to be an integral part of the energy transition.

–Gregory Darling,
Group Managing Director at AST