New & Promising Offshore Energy Connectivity Solutions

By Thomas Ornevik 6 min read

Just as the world has had to rapidly change with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, business dynamics have had to evolve rapidly as well. Today change is happening at a quicker pace, accelerating what was already a fast-changing era.

We see this change happening not only in our daily lives but also in a vast number of business verticals – and it’s particularly visible in the offshore energy sector such as FPSOs, wind farms, oil rigs, and more. We’re already familiar with the increased emphasis of energy companies to strive for carbon neutrality, which shifts their focus more towards clean renewable energy sources in line with the desired shift by the global community.

Similarly, there is a clear trend of deploying supporting technologies that evolve quickly and are capable of doing more. In the wireless telecom industry, this is displayed in a simple form – a drive for lower latencies and higher throughputs!

ACCELERATED NEED FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

In the offshore energy sector, this trend has become even more evident. Digital transformation in this sector was already in full force pre-pandemic, with the drive for more remote operations and the focus on moving business-critical processes to the cloud. This need for digital transformation has been accelerated by the pandemic.

For example, the pandemic has led to increased restrictions and protocols on the transportation of people offshore. People are tested and go into quarantine both before going offshore and upon returning onshore. So transporting people between onshore and their jobs offshore – with the intent of keeping COVID-19 off of offshore platforms – has been, and still is to a degree, a big logistical issue.

A current trend in the industry is that exploration and drilling campaigns are shorter in duration, which compounds the need for reliable, low-latency and high-throughput communications.

CONNECTIVITY AS A SERVICE

To address the current demands of our offshore energy customers and the industry, Ceragon’s Kinetics Stabilized Communications solutions are now being delivered using new business models and concepts. One example is our “connectivity as a service” model. Not unfamiliar in the exploration industry, this model is now allowing our customers and managed service provider partners to benefit from the highest throughputs our solutions provide, using a commercial model suitable for the new business environment.

For microwave (MW) installations on offshore platforms and vessels, “connectivity as a service” is a rather immature concept. Having said that, it’s one that is quickly becoming accepted with open arms by our customers contracting directly with Ceragon and by our managed service provider partners. Witnessing a rapidly increasing interest in this business model, we have successfully delivered a number of new projects in the last 12 months. In these projects Ceragon installs, maintains and monitors the required hardware on offshore sites and onshore telecom towers.

In these scenarios, Ceragon provides a carrier-grade service with several hundreds of Mbps up to Gbps, if required, to the offshore asset with latency down to less than 1 millisecond. Beyond installation, Ceragon remains responsible for maintaining the link and assuring its availability. The customer enjoys enhanced bandwidth and assurance that the connectivity service is covered by one value-for-money monthly fee, which becomes a predictable operational expense.

It’s clear to see why this has sparked huge interest from the energy sector. Customers not only benefit from hundreds of low-latency Mbps, but also from a complete shift the responsibility and burden of the hardware to Ceragon. This translates into a small impact on their OPEX budgets, while limiting the need for an increased CAPEX burden.

As a result, even the shortest of offshore campaigns can gain the operational benefits offered by this service without the previous burden of a high-CAPEX investment in location-specific hardware.

And this tailored approach is not alone in our new market offerings. As the demands of the industry increase, as we have discussed, we see the expansion of boundaries by energy players to access high-bandwidth transport. This is demonstrated by energy companies’ interest in reaching their platforms, vessels and assets further offshore with a wireless multi-hop solution.

MULTI-HOP TRANSPORT CONCEPT

The multi-hop concept simply means utilizing the nearest offshore asset as a relay station. When the closest asset has line of sight to the shore, it can be used as a relay station. Then we have line of sight to the next asset and so on. Gbps connectivity often can be achieved for offshore sites traditionally considered “too far away” for a MW point-to-point (PtP) solution.

We are seeing collaboration between energy players to realize the benefits of massive bandwidth and unmatched latency, which is key to their digital transformation strategy that enhances productivity and reduces operational costs. While it’s not assured that we can always extend offshore reach, our experience is that Ceragon and our customers can collaborate to meet their requirements in most cases.

One recent example is off the coast of West Africa, where the first hop is roughly 50 km off the coast and the next asset is some 100 km from a coastline. This has enabled the asset and surrounding oil field to enjoy 300 Mbps full duplex throughput with a roundtrip latency of 5 ms.

CERAGON’S KINETICS SOLUTIONS

Ceragon Kinetics’ models and concepts are laying the foundation for the deployment of technologies that accelerate our customers’ progress on their digital transformation roadmap. Even more importantly, we are enabling them to enhance production and achieve cost-saving operational efficiencies.

 

Learn more about Ceragon’s Kinetics solutions

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