by May 15, 2014 0 comments

Robust data connectivity to remote field locations is becoming essential to smoothly run day to day business and derive benefits of the IT enablement. Accordingly Telecommunication Infrastructure of the organization has kept pace with evolving technologies. HF/ VHF radio communications, point to point microwave links, point to multipoint TDMA network, Multi Access radio Trunking (MART) system and satellite communication networks based on SCPC, MCPC, TDM/ TDMA, MF-TDMA access techniques, have been installed from time to time to meet the voice and data connectivity requirements at remote locations.

ONGC’s operations are spread over 21 states for onshore operations, offshore activities in East & West coasts, Andaman and deep sea areas, ONGC operates through more than 25 Asset/ Basin locations in India. ONGC owns and operates through 70 on land drilling rigs, 9 offshore drilling rigs and 60 on land work-over rigs. 149 well platforms and 27 process platforms. 30 Offshore Support Vessels (OSVs) and 2 Multipurpose Support Vessels (MSVs), and 6 stimulation vessels. More than 15,000 kilometers of pipelines, the biggest pipelines in network in India, including more than 4,500 kilometers of sub-sea pipelines.

With the spread of IT enabled applications for all categories of users across all work centres of the company, demand for higher bandwidth connectivity has been increasing across all work centres. For major work centre locations, the high bandwidth requirement was successfully being met through hired terrestrial leased lines from BSNL/ MTNL, however, to provide high bandwidth to users at remote locations was emerging as a major bottleneck in performance of enterprise IT applications at these locations.
However, the prevalent systems were becoming obsolete and bandwidth provided by these systems was also becoming insufficient. The deployed technology for providing data communication to remote locations was unable to provide high speed data connectivity to remote locations. This was creating a bottleneck in performance of existing IT applications and also in rolling out new IT applications.

What ONGC needed to resolve were its communication problems. In total, 127 new communication towers were needed. For this multiple agencies were required to be involved in the project execution. Coordination and interactions with all stakeholders which included related executives at all work centers.

Implementation and Challenges
ONGC went ahead to deploy the first such implementation in India to deploy fixed Wimax technology for captive use by using large cells. Technology scanning, evaluation and finalization was done with in-house expertise. Pre-engineering was also done with in-house expertise. Wimax is basically a technology developed for service providers to provide Internet access to public and is amenable for deployment in dense urban areas with cell sizes varying from 2 to 5 KMs. In ONGC the scenario was quite different with remote installations spread at wide distances ranging from 6 to 40 KMs. The system components were configure to meet ONGC requirements.
The system is natively not designed to provide high availability through redundancy. In the present deployment in ONGC, redundancy for sector and power supply was conceived & implemented. Securing clearances and allocation of frequency from statutory Authorities was not an easy task as the authorities had to be convinced regarding the critical requirement for oil & gas operations and the suitability of the technology for captive use.
The total cost of setting up Wimax based Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) system was Rs 20.96 crores and the implementation was done through Spanco ltd. The work centers covered : Ahmedabad, Ankleshwar, Mehasana, Vadodara, Cambay, Neelam. Airspan of Israel provided ONGC with OEM of Wimax equipment and a total of seven base stations, seven
VoIP exchanges, 228 remote stations and a total of 127 towers were erected.


Key benefits
The system for providing broadband connectivity to remote locations, has enabled enhanced exploitation of deployed IT systems and deeper penetration of these into core E&P operations. The system has been instrumental in accelerating the pace of realizing benefits of IT and had been instrumental in raising the IT maturity level of the organization. With aging oil & gas reservoirs, to maintain production levels and improve recovery factor, more IT interventions are required and broadband wireless access to remote locations has created a platform for induction of further IT enabled applications in the core E&P operations.
Smooth functioning of three tier architecture of enterprise wide SCADA system, facilitated by Broadband Wireless Access system, has empowered executives at all levels & locations with real time information. This has enabled integration of SCADA data with SAP ERP system to realise the vision of top management of seamless flow of information from instrument to board room. With this integration the data from sensors at manufacturing level is being automatically populated in business system directly, bring integrity of data in the organization. This shall not only help in enhancing the quality of business decisions but also in taking appropriate scientific & operational decisions.
The system has enabled video communications with field personnel and enhanced the quality of communications, resulting in better & faster decision making at the various assets where the system is functional. The broadband connectivity has resulted in improving the satisfaction levels of field personnel with respect to performance of various IT applications at remote locations.

The successful deployment of the BWA system at ONGC work centers in Gujarat & Neelam Offshore complex has had visible post implementation performance improvements and has validated the technology selection and re-engineering done.

The success story has been replicated at other offshore complexes in Western Offshore region. Project based on similar technology has also been undertaken to cover remote as well as nomadic installations at Southern and North eastern work centers of ONGC. Under this project Wimax coverage shall be extended to approximately 185 sites.
In the Gujarat region, success of broadband Wireless Access system has driven the demand to cover drilling rigs which are nomadic in nature. Based on user demand, the project for extending the Wimax coverage to nomadic drilling rigs operating in ONGC work centers in Gujarat is also been taken up.

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