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Optical Networking Solutions for the Offshore Oil Industry


Ultra-deep waters, such as the pre-salt of Brazil and Africa, which are located 250+km from the coast, has pushed the subsea oilfield industry towards more complex control systems, increased communication bandwidth needs and the need for more fault tolerant communication systems. Fortunately, optical fiber networking can provide the required communication links between shore and offshore platforms, allowing for the large volumes of data produced by the deepwater oilfields to be brought to shore stations for processing or data management. Fiber links between adjacent platforms can also be used to support not-manned operation of one platform operated from an adjacent facility. Optical networking can provide the pre-salt oil industry with high QoS terabit communication bandwidths and can support 200+ km unrepeated link distances. Should higher distance be required, the signal can be boosted using EDFA (Erbium Doped Optical Fiber Amplifier) equipment.

Shallow water oilfields are easily approached by the passive non-repeatered fiber network architecture, where active electronic equipments are placed on shore. Protection back-up is provided by microwave radio, which however provides low communication bandwidth, short reach and low QoS for marine communications. Satellite communication may also be used for temporary backup, but at the expense of ultra low bandwidth provision.

The pre-salt brings new challenges, such as platforms and FPSO's located 250+km from shore, high communication bandwidth demands, gradual growth of number of platforms, dynamic movement and relocation of FPSO's during its lifetime, possible mix of different oil platform owners etc. Moreover, communication back-up cannot be provided by microwave radio any longer due to the long distances involved high bandwidth demand, earth curvature, line-of-sight requirements, low QoS. Such challenges require new optical networking approaches, which must allow for flexible network architecture, envision for network expansion, future proofing model, optical backing-up, high fault tolerance. To cope with the long distances involved, the optically repeatered architecture, commonly used in transoceanic optical telecommunication networks, may be considered. Such model relies on electrically powered ROADM (Reconfigurable Optical Add Drop Multiplexers), installed in sub-sea branching units, and hybrid (fiber + electrical) cables with high voltage elements. However, this network model is not recommended for the oil industry. So a new submarine optical network architecture is required to serve the offshore oilfield industry.

FiberWork Optical Communications have joined efforts with major international partners, to develop and provide innovative fiber optic solutions for the offshore oil industry. Please call our marketing dept to schedule a meeting and learn more about FiberWork Optical Submarine Solutions.

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