Resilient and secure data communication solution enables remote monitoring of subsea systems


AST has developed a fully redundant secure satellite solution to enable the remote monitoring and control of subsea systems from a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel or shoreside location.

AST has provided one of the world’s largest oil and gas service companies with an operationally critical, end-to-end bespoke satellite communication solution. The solution enables remote monitoring and control of subsea systems aboard the floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel without the need to install a traditional physical umbilical connection.

The challenge

One of the world’s largest oil and gas service companies approached AST to develop a bespoke solution to allow engineers to remotely connect to the Master Control Station (MCS) on the rig from the FPSO some 25km away.

Under normal circumstances, data communication between an offshore oil and gas rig and a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel uses a subsea umbilical (cabled) connection. A cable and/or hose is laid on the seabed as a physical connection between the subsea infrastructure and surface facility or platform to provide a critical connection to control subsurface equipment. Due to the extensive distance between the rig and the FPSO laying an umbilical connection was not economically or financially feasible.

The solution

AST developed a bespoke satellite solution that provides a secure IP connection utilising the Iridium Certus® network to eliminate the need for an umbilical connection. This solution allows engineers to retrieve data and control the subsea equipment, in near real-time, while remaining in the control centre on the FPSO.

It is safety-critical that their engineers can connect and manage the MCS in a seamless and reliable way, giving them the ability to remotely execute valve commands or other safety and operational tasks.

Iridium Certus® provides a secure, high-performance connection from the Thales VesseLINK terminal on the FPSO to the connecting Thales VesseLINK terminal situated on the rig itself. This hardware and other IT equipment are housed in a bespoke, robust unit to protect it aboard the vessel and on the rig.

AST’s engineers designed the solution to be fully redundant to assure secure connectivity and failover to the MCS. It is independent of any other network or system on the FPSO or rig, meaning it will continue to provide connectivity when other onboard networks may not be able to.

In order to provide a complete service from surveying and design to installation and in-service support, AST engineers are certified with multiple offshore qualifications including Minimum Industry Safety Training (MIST), Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET) with Compressed Air Emergency Breathing System (CA EBS) and Escape Chute training.

The benefits

Cost-effective and operationally efficient

AST’s resilient and secure solution can be quickly installed and activated to provide seamless remote monitoring and control services quickly to maximise operational time. This solution is essential in this fast-moving project that saw records broken as the producer went from field discovery to start-up in just nine months.

In addition to this, it requires minimal annual maintenance making the total cost of ownership of this solution lower than that of installing a traditional umbilical connection between the FPSO vessel and the rig.

Secure and resilient

The AST solution utilises encrypted data channels to protect data in transit. With no internet breakout, this encrypted data never leaves the Iridium Certus® network, providing additional security, with the added benefit of minimising latency and improving overall system performance.

AST engineers have installed market-leading technology within the solution to ensure the safety-critical nature of the application. The solution operates independently from any other network, meaning that there will be no interruption to service if any other onboard networks are unavailable. The solution’s inbuilt resilience and auto-failover ensure the best possible connection.

Innovative and adaptable

AST delivered a global first for the use of Iridium Certus® technology in this way. The solution involves multiple technology partners working collaboratively to successfully deploy this tailored solution.

The solution can be scaled and adapted to support other applications such as light well intervention or monitoring of subsea systems from any control centre globally.

Wherever you are, whatever your remote connectivity requirements, AST has a solution. To discuss how we can take you further with one of the friendly team call +1 480 247 2439 or email [email protected]

Solutions used

Maritime Connectivity

We are the go-to maritime satellite communications provider.

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Maritime Bespoke Solutions

As experts in building solutions to unique challenges that our clients face, we're in the perfect position to help you overcome your next one.

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