Our Case Studies

Connecting an offshore facility

Enabling a global EPC to prevail over harsh marine environments by installing a communication system at their offshore plant with no compromise on quality or safety.

Overview

This offshore facility, owned by a global EPC covers a platform that processes outputs from a large number of production platforms, carried by submarine pipelines, as well as an adjacent platform that encompasses the living quarters housing 70 people.

We provided a comprehensive communication system fitted with voice, video and data transmission capabilities that prevailed over the harsh marine environment.

The Task

Partnering with yet another global EPC, we were entrusted with equipping their offshore process platform, and its living quarters, with an advanced digital telecommunication system for one of their long-time customers. The entire system was engineered for a life span of 25 years under offshore conditions. Considering the stringent emergency communication objectives to be met, there needed to be two independent means of communication. Thus, even if one system were to undergo complete failure, the objectives wouldn’t be compromised.

The Emergency Control Centre (ECC), which is responsible for managing emergencies, disseminating warning messages in case of danger, signaling assembly at muster stations, and managing abandonment of installation, depended heavily on a reliable internal communication system for reaching all personnel on board and coordinating the muster stations, emergency response teams, emergency crane operators, and the infirmary. The communication system enabled full radio coverage so that personnel working anywhere in the facility could be contacted. It also required facilities for paging and party intercom, data and crane operator communications, phone and data communication facilities for operational and administrative functions as well.

The Challenge

As with any offshore installation, there were a unique set of extreme requirements, both in terms of design and execution, to be met. The communication system had to service not only the platform and living areas during normal operating conditions but also the lifeboats and survival crafts during emergencies and disasters; all with exceptional reliability.

All telecommunications systems and equipment had to be operational in hot, humid, corrosive, extremely saline and hostile marine environments. This meant ambient temperatures ranging from 16 C to 40 C, with 100% relative humidity and wind speeds upto 49 km/hr. Additional ingress protection was required for equipment installed in areas vulnerable to sea-water spray or deluge. Furthermore, due to the presence of explosive vapours, all outdoor electrical equipments were to be designed for operation in Zone-1 hazardous environments.

A project of this size and complexity required extraordinary engineering expertise. Co-ordination with the EPC and consultants occurred at multiple levels, with a high degree of detailed engineering down to the design of the minutest of accessories for phenomenal execution at the offshore construction yard.

Apart from keeping in line with the constant modifications in the construction layout, our engineers played a crucial role in determining the most suitable telecom solutions. Assembling the entire system at one point required well-coordinated logistics for timely transportation of equipment and components from various suppliers spread across the globe.

The Solution

The multi-systems solution for a vast critical facility with wells that are expected to produce 5.57 million metric tonnes of oil, 0.75 million metric tonnes of condensate and 5.12 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 15 years had to be absolute and future-proof.

Thorough project execution plans were drawn up to synchronize with timelines for platform construction and commissioning. Comprehensive site surveys were done to ascertain the critical systems requirements.

The solution provided wide-ranging radio functionality in VHF-AM (Airband), VHF-FM (Marine), and HF SSB Radio bands using sea-worthy equipment.

This included survival craft and lifeboat communication systems like Search and Rescue Transponders (SART), Global Marine Distress Safety System (GMDSS), and Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)

In addition, the solution included a redundant PAGA System, hybrid EPABX System, Application Specific LAN, Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) system, and state-of-the-art Weather Monitoring Instrumentation.

The project entailed rigorous monitoring of air, sea, and environmental parameters to ensure the safe and uninterrupted functioning of the entire offshore platform.

Meteorological and Environmental Instrumentation was installed for providing real-time weather and sea-state information, which helped make informed decisions about flight movements, supply and support boat activities, and other weather-dependent tasks. Sensors were installed for measuring outside temperature, dew point, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, sea current speed and direction, wave height and frequency, and tidal level. The instrumentation data was displayed in real-time and also recorded in archives.

A digital PAGA system was implemented, for the first time, for an end user’s offshore platform. The entire area was covered in three zones, with the sound levels carefully calibrated to be 10-20dB (A) greater than the background noise, and with the provision of additional beacons in areas of background noise above 85dB (A).

The cabling used for the PAGA system was armoured and fire-resistant. All outdoor speakers were corrosion-resistant with IP66 ingress protection, and IEC/ATEX Zone 1 certified. Crane shout control units were installed for assisting crane operators while lifting heavy loads even in emergency conditions.

The Highlights

  • Seamless execution considering the vast scale and complexity of the offshore project.
  • Maintained technical integrity through pre-engineered designs with proven track records which met international standards for offshore installation.
  • Digital PAGA and Page Party System with explosion-proof, corrosion-resistant outdoor speakers.
  • VHF FM Marine Band, GMDSS, SART, EPIRB, VHF AM Airband Radios and NDB.
  • EPABX System including explosion-proof telephones for marine environments.
  • Environmental Instrumentation System for temperature, pressure, rain, wind and sea current monitoring.
  • Global scope of project, meeting all delivery challenges on a timely basis.

The Benefits

Our ‘3C Model’ (Conceptualize, Construct and Care) proved effective in delivering the project to performance and timeline objectives. Going the extra mile to support all parties involved is something that comes naturally to us at Commtel. The systems were designed in-house and constructed at the yard with meticulous attention to detail, always keeping in view the real offshore conditions.

Seamless implementation of multiple systems directly at the overseas offshore construction yard maximized the efficiency of time and resource utilization. Commtel’s years of experience have proven useful so ensuring that the technical integrity of the solution was maintained at all times and only existing, well-proven designs were selected. This goes a long way in reducing downtime.

Our experienced site engineering team, through their determined efforts, completed the installation and testing within the project schedule, while adhering to proper HSE practices required on the platform. The outcome was a first-rate offshore communication system that the end-user can safely depend on at all times.