May 10, 2021

Fueling the Digital Transformation

oil and gas ecosystem

As an early adopter of VSAT networks, the oil and gas industry is no stranger to satellite connectivity having relied on it for decades to connect and protect its workforce. Today, the oil and gas world is moving in a new digital direction. So how can satellite accelerate this move as the industry begins to embrace new processes through automation and digitalization, increasing remote control and proactive remote maintenance of assets. Players are increasingly placing applications into the cloud, so ensuring cloud access from the most remote places on earth is imperative. In a nutshell, highly reliable, flexible, efficient and cost-effective connectivity is more critical than ever to enable the transition. This is the message that came through loud and clear during the Century 21 Connected Oilfield event last week. Our Head of Enterprise and Broadband, Jean-Michel Rouylou, took to the panel to set out the ways in which we’re working to enable the oil and gas sector to move towards a digital future.

There are four main areas that form the oil and gas ecosystem. They are exploration, production, transformation and distribution and ST Engineering iDirect is focused on creating a positive impact on the connectivity needs in all four of these segments.

Mx-DMA MRC Oil & Gas

So, what really matters to oil and gas companies?

Performance and security: Companies need high-speed access to offshore drilling ships or land drilling rigs. There’s not just one company located on the rigs but many, so a secure common communications network for all stake holders is essential.

Flexibility: The oil and gas business goes through economic and production cycles which affect the requirement for higher throughput connectivity. If you’re at the bottom of a cycle, you don’t need megabytes of bandwidth, so the flexibility of the solution and the business model is critical. The recent pandemic with its travel restrictions and increasing needs of automation is a great illustration of the reasons why this flexibility is so important.

Reliability: This is paramount. Increased remote control equals a need for increased reliability and downtime means not only revenue loss but also environmental risks.

Efficiency: The best, most efficient bandwidth connectivity result is the best Return on Investment. A single network should be able to carry any type of traffic, with no requirement to create different networks for different applications such as IoT and SCADA – it should be a single infrastructure with shared efficiency.

Cost-Effectiveness: Satellite bandwidth is a big investment for oil and gas users, and therefore this capacity should be flexible and able to accommodate a spectrum of applications. This optimization of the bandwidth leads to greater Return on Investment – a priority for any oil and gas company.

The network should be as cost-effective as possible, leveraging latest satellite technologies to keep reducing Opex spending.

Why Digitalization?

Although the oil and gas sector has always been a big user of satellite technology, and big data, there’s been a light bulb moment occur within the community that has revealed the real potential of digitalization. In order to move on it means investment, but this investment can yield incredible results that have a transformative effect, increasing uptime, reducing service and maintenance costs, optimizing oil recovery, enabling faster detection of failure in production or distribution sites and optimization of all the assets. IoT will be at the heart of this digitalization transformation.

At ST Engineering iDirect, we’re addressing all of these challenges – reliability, security, performance, efficiency, cost-effectiveness through our technology, products and services.

… there’s been a light bulb moment occur within the community that has revealed the real potential of digitalization.

Our Mx-DMA MRC waveform is the industry’s most powerful return technology offering unprecedented service agility, flexibility and throughput, extending the availability of Mx-DMA to very large networks while lowering the total cost of ownership. It incorporates the scalability of MF-TDMA with the efficiency of single channel per carrier (SCPC) into a single return technology. For the first time, service providers can now cover a myriad of use cases in a single return link without making tradeoffs between speed, efficiency, scale and cost.

The MDM5010 modem is the industry’s fastest satellite modem for shared bandwidth networks achieving an aggregate speed of 600Mbps. Previously, these speeds had only been achieved with single channel per carrier (SCPC) point-to-point modems but now bandwidth sharing efficiencies can be augmented to satisfy the most demanding throughput requirements. And we will soon offer even higher speeds reaching above 1 Gbps on the MDM5010 modem.

IoT, as we have said, will be a pillar of digitalization for the oil and gas sector, enabling remote monitoring of a plethora of assets. We offer a traditional IoT VSAT-based solution, but we are also introducing a new solution with IoT optimized waveforms and small form factor IoT terminals on our existing platforms. With these two offerings, we can cater for the entire IoT spectrum from very low to medium to high bandwidth requirements.

It’s important to note that we are moving towards a future of convergence, where satellite will integrate into a much bigger connectivity landscape. 5G will be the master of this convergence, and this will see us in the satellite industry moving to adopt terrestrial standards from the telco world and increasing orchestration and virtualization. Soon, the user won’t know whether they are using satellite, cellular or any other terrestrial technology to connect, because it will be seamless. We’re taking our first steps towards a multi orbit, multi access, multi service future – one that will mean further transformation and even simpler connectivity solutions for the oil and gas industry.

To hear from Jean-Michel, watch the full the C21 webinar here.