Guaranteeing the continuity of critical data
Increasing engineering complexity and regulatory requirements are combining to present the Oil & Gas sector with unique challenges at the edge of the network.
Bob Legg at iOra looks at the challenges
The oil and gas sector is rife with regulations ~ with good reason. The challenge is ensuring that the right people have access to up- to- date data whenever it’s required. Failure to do so can run up thousands of dollars per day in NPT. Georgina Elrington spoke with Bob Legg, business manager for Offshore Markets at iOra ( pictured), to find out what can be done to guarantee the continuity of critical data.
OCN: So, in your opinion, what do customers want from their remote networks today?
When operating at the edge of the network, clients want to ensure continuity of operations/ comply with regulations; safeguard the safety and integrity of their people and assets; and make their offshore and remote locations just like any other office. The main market areas impacted by network disparity include: maritime, offshore oil & gas, and the military, as well as mining and construction ~ particularly in developing countries.
OCN: How does iOra define the network edge?
We define it as a breakdown of the expected norms of service levels for corporate and internet services; whereby bandwidth is below that required/ desired, is unreliable; where latency can rise and make networks unusable; or where network links become totally unavailable. While network bandwidth is indeed increasing, so is the volume and complexity of applications, data, and regulatory requirements required for exploration and mining. In the maritime industry, the increase of regulations for operations, Safety Management Systems, crew welfare, digitalisation of vessel systems, and route optimisation all demand an increasing flow of information.
OCN: Where does iOra come in?
iOra ensures that critical corporate data is replicated to the locations where it is required ~ ready to be accessed by those who need it ~ even when the link goes down. Through smart, patented mathematics and logic we are able to synchronise terabytes of data over satellite, RF, GSM, and WiFi links. The files are so small they can “thread the camel through the eye of the needle” so to speak. The efficiency of the network link becomes optimised in terms of cost ~ and the volumes of data are dramatically reduced.
OCN: Can you explain further with some examples?
Sure. We’re helping a major independent oil company ensure that its upstream emergency response plans are up to date to the field. We also have two tanker fleets synchronising Safety Management Systems from the shore to the vessels. A major drilling company is synchronising well logging data from the field to HQ to support decision making between head office and the field teams concerning well status and production levels. We’re also working with a Middle Eastern National Oil Company to replicate data and CAD drawings from its Engineering Data Management System to/ from its offshore rigs in SE Asia.
OCN: What are the potential consequences of documentation not being in place at the right time?
When an investigation into an incident starts, it examines if all laws and regulations have been adhered to, which comes down to the question: “Was everything that could reasonably be done, done?” Failure to do so can cause fatalities, shutdowns, impounding of vessels and equipment, fines and even imprisonment. Anticipating the impact of unpredictable network issues can act like an insurance policy in these instances.
OCN: Do you have any advice for the industry?
If conditions are sufficiently extreme all wireless network links can be found wanting. By planning ahead for possible network outages iOra will pre- provision critical information where it is needed ~ be that every five minutes, every day, or every month.
Bob Legg, business manager for Offshore Markets, iOra