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The AST Group is the chosen partner for a leading energy company in Australia, providing telemetry and remote connectivity solutions for offshore gas field production that delivers mission-critical power to the countries Northern Territory.
The energy provider’s unmanned wellhead platform entered project commissioning and production commencement phase following the signing of an agreement to deliver power to the near 250,000 residents in the Northern Territory of Australia.
The offshore wellhead platform connects to an onshore gas facility which enables the energy company to provide critical power across the 1.421million km2 this territory spans, a landscape infamous for its vast desert outback. Due to the territory’s high dependence on this power source, the production process is categorised as mission-critical and therefore a resilient, secure remote connectivity solution was vital.
Any failure of this link would have major repercussions, it is vital that it is monitored and maintained appropriately 24/7/365.
VSAT, resilient connectivity
The AST Group implemented a resilient solution that enables remote monitoring and control via a VSAT (SCPC) connection with redundancy on the RF Feed. Teams onshore are equipped with real-time access to critical data from the platform including weather conditions and the latest system status. Immediate access via this connection empowers decision making and supports improving response times to maintain system uptime.
BGAN, ‘always on’ back-up
In addition to the VSAT connection, a BGAN backup solution is in place to ensure failover. The Cobham Explorer 700 provides an ‘always on’ connection that delivers telemetry from systems aboard the unmanned platform back to the onshore gas facility, in line with the mission-critical nature of the customer’s communication link.
Satellite Phones, on-the-go communication
Due to the remote location of the infrastructure, the workforce is required to travel out in the field between sites, and therefore reliable communication is vital to meet operational health and safety regulations. AST supplies the energy providers workforce with Iridium and Inmarsat satellite phones, ensuring engineers can communicate securely, at all times, even when working in remote locations.
Real-time access to data empowers the operations team and engineers with intelligence at their fingertips to maintain and monitor the wellhead efficiently from a distance but also receive instant alerts and react should the need occur. The solution enables connectivity to fixed cameras on the wellhead offering live visibility of site conditions for monitoring and verification purposes.
VSAT alongside the BGAN back-up solution provides resilience where it is needed most for the customer – given the importance of the service they are providing to local business and residents any link failure could have major financial repercussions.
If the connectivity link is dark for longer than 72 hours, then the energy provider is at risk of financial penalties - the connection is monitored and maintained 24/7/365 by AST’s engineers and global customer support team.
Critical Data access
The partnership between the energy provider and AST Australia has delivered consistent, mission-critical level communications for their infrastructure. AST promise that this point-to-point satellite link will deliver 99.9% availability end-to-end and statistics from the satellite equipment confirm that AST exceeds that on an annual basis.
Shoreside employees can now access vital data from the platform;
Safety is not just a priority to the customer, but fundamental to their company values. The enablement of remote connectivity to existing operating software provides the ability to remotely shut down the wellhead or pause production whenever required. If data alerted the shoreside engineers to a leak or adverse pressure level, then immediate action can be taken to find a resolution reducing potential impact to operations.
A benchmark for total vessel deployment to visit a remote wellhead like this is estimated to be approximately $100,000 USD, this would include costs associated with deploying a vessel as well as a skilled crew.
The VSAT and BGAN connectivity solution significantly reduces the need for physical deployment of both engineers and vessels alike, resulting in reduced costs with the additional benefit of greater visibility and operational efficiency.
Keith Richardson, Technical Director at AST Australia said:
“Reliable communications not only provide efficiency for the project it also minimises the need to send manpower to an unmanned platform, thereby saving time and money.
We have always taken a consultative approach with the customer to keep the system operating at maximum efficiency, whilst providing upgrade paths for their communications infrastructure as technology advancements become available.
AST Australia’s 24/7 global customer support capability sits behind this project, and we are proud to work with this customer in the ongoing delivery of yet another mission-critical energy project.”