Thursday, 23 October 2014

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The big turnoff

John McKenna, Editor

Petrobel rigs up Cisco wireless

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Petroleum company improves real-time information sharing with oil rigs via wireless to improve safety and efficiency

Cairo - Belayim Petroleum Co. (Petrobel), has implemented a Cisco system to link its headquarters and the oil rigs, facilitating video and other communications channels between the drilling crews and the HQ team. The technology, said Cisco, has cut costs by increasing productivity, decreasing travel and improving teamwork.

Phase 1 of Petrobel's i-Rig project aimed to create a converged IP network on its Adriatic X Rig some 60km offshore. Cisco's Aironet access points formed the heart of a converged wireless local area network. The same vendor also installed wireless IP phones to keep staff in contact across most of the rig, while Cisco Unified IP Phones 7960G, equipped with Cisco Unified Video Advantage, enabled voice and video communications with the Petrobel's onshore experts in Cairo.

"Industry figures estimate that typically 15% to 25% of drilling time is lost due to some kind of trouble encountered during the drilling process," said Hani Abdel Aziz, Cisco general manager for Egypt. Petrobel conservatively estimates that better and faster decision making could avoid 10 hours or more of delays each month on one rig alone - a potential saving of some $125,000 per month per rig.

"When presented with the opportunity to run a pilot of the new application, Petrobel not only jumped at the chance, but also decided to test it in the most demanding environment available to it - the Adriatic X exploration rig operating 75 kilometers offshore," said Hani Abdel Aziz.

The pilot established a local area network throughout the Adriatic X rig operating at 48 Mbps, using just three Cisco Aironet access points within Zone 1 and 2 certified enclosures. It took Petrobel just two days to set up the wireless mesh network on Adriatic X - one day for a site survey, and one day for the installation of the equipment and commissioning.

The project, claims Cisco, has transformed the sharing of real-time information and decision making on the rig: Enablng employees and technicians can take calls and share video images in real time - even on the drilling area - with colleagues at HQ and beyond.

The value of this real-time communications capability was dramatically proven in early 2007, within just weeks of the Aironet equipment being installed, when the drill hit a high-pressure, high-temperature zone while working on the target to reach a record depth of 5500 metres.

"This technology does not replace the employee or diminish his importance," said Rechchad, enterprise lead for Cisco Africa and Levant. "What it does is enable the wider team to share some of the burden with him. It gives us the opportunity to more effectively assist the production team to reach the right decision quickly. I expect to see it in place on all rigs within the next five years."

 

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