Digital Oilfields special: Got Oman Covered
Redline Communications provides on deploying wireless to PDO
The communications and control network is the backbone of the digital oilfield. Redline recently completed the first phase of the PDO network, establishing high-speed, bi-directional communication links between PDO’s corporate layer and the field layers in its oil and gas fields.
Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) requires that its digital oilfield network provide broadband coverage that extends across the entire oilfield, be secure, be able to segment into multiple distinct networks that support different types of applications, reliably operate year-round in harsh environments, provide high-speed bandwidth on both downlink and uplink data paths, operate with very low latency to properly support real-time machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, work with different types of technology from multiple vendors, and seamlessly connect between different operations across the entire oilfield.
After a quick analysis, PDO concluded wireless was its only option and began working with Redline Communications to blanket its 72,520 square kilometer digital oilfield – an area approximately the size of Switzerland – with wireless connectivity.
PDO’s Digital Oilfield Requirements
Today more than 2,000 of the 5,000 wells in the PDO oilfield are wirelessly connected to a central location from which they are remotely monitored and managed, providing real time machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and control.
Connected to this network are SCADA systems, remote terminal units (RTUs), video surveillance cameras and Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as well heads, drilling rigs and semi-mobile units. This same wireless infrastructure includes a distinct network that enables person-to-person communication across the entire oilfield.
PDO’s network greatly enhances efficiency and reduces operating costs by eliminating the need for workers to drive to each well to collect critical operating data and make changes to optimize the system. The ability to make these optimization changes in real time also improves personnel safety and reduces the possibility of catastrophic accidents.
An effective wireless network must have the flexibility to offer the requisite quality of service levels needed to support all these different technologies. Surveillance video cameras, for example, must quickly upload large amounts of video data to be of any use in spotting security breaches or other hazards.
Smart drilling techniques, which use real time data to control the speed of individual drills, also require both low latency and high data throughput, or the smart drills cannot be remotely monitored and controlled.
Redline Communications’ Virtual Fiber wireless broadband network system employs multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) technology for high throughput in both the downlink and uplink paths without sacrificing range. In a digital oilfield, every millisecond counts, but adding low latency to the combination of high throughput and long range is a significant technical challenge.
Because the number of radio towers and masts account for 40% to 60% of the infrastructure cost of building a digital oilfield network, long range and high two-way throughput substantially reduce the cost of a wireless digital oilfield network. Every 50 percent increase in radio range yields a 125 percent increase in network coverage.
Longer range radios significantly reduce infrastructure costs by minimizing the number of towers and masts required. Radios operating in point-to-multipoint (PMP) configurations also allow many units to communicate over long distances to a smaller number of base stations, reducing infrastructure costs further.
Because security is always essential, Redline radios support AES-128 and AES-256 encryption options and X.509 certificate-based authentication.
Simplifying networking considerably, Redline products support all the important IP standards for networking and security, and provide a transparent bridge to the field, eliminating the need for expensive routers to support MPLS, 802.1p, VLANs and VPNs.
Phase 2 and Beyond
The first phase of Redline’s digital oilfield network for PDO was completed more quickly and at a significantly lower cost than possible with other networking technologies. At the same time, the network significantly enhanced the oilfield’s communications and control capabilities without any disruption to production.
Although PDO uses a variety of vendors to provide the wide range of machinery used in the field, mandating that its network infrastructure uses only Redline’s radio technology ensures not only the highest levels of data throughput, range, low latency and reliability, but makes it possible for each new drilling site to connect easily to the network, and provides a consistent blanket of network coverage across all 72,520 square kilometers of the PDO oilfield.
According to Saeed Al Shidhani, PDO’s head of IT projects, “the Redline products have delivered on their promise of highly reliable performance in a challenging environment. Redline’s ability to operate without interruption in harsh conditions over extremely wide areas was key to delivering a rapid return on investment.
We have seen immediate and significant improvements in performance and data throughput as a result of the wireless digital connectivity delivered by Redline and we plan to more than double the number of wells that are included in this system in the coming months.” Redline is now connecting all the remaining 3,000 wells at PDO.