The importance of the energy sector to the Malaysian economy can be judged from the sheer scale of its resources. According to national oil and gas corporation Petronas, the country has hydrocarbon reserves equivalent to 20.6 billion barrels , making it one of the largest oil and gas producers in the region.
The task of keeping offshore oil platforms operating safely and efficiently falls firmly on firms such as Malaysia’s Shapadu Energy and Engineering, who specialize in providing contract services for the construction, engineering and maintenance of offshore facilities.
Meeting communication needs in remote environments
A Petronas-licensed oil and gas contractor, Shapadu is fully equipped to address the unique demands of offshore operations for the world’s leading energy exploration and production companies.
To ensure offshore platforms are operating at peak performance, Shapadu needed to adopt the latest communications technologies to support oil and gas exploration in locations across the South China Sea that are underserved by terrestrial networks — especially for Shapadu’s engineers, who are required to be stationed at offshore platforms for periods that can last up to weeks.
“A typical offshore platform in the South China Sea lies well beyond the range of shore-based GSM networks and shortwave radio communications,” explained Shafiz Shahrani, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive of Shapadu. “Our rig crews depend on reliable satellite communications to facilitate a wide range of work applications, and we decided to invest in our own satellite handsets to provide a flexible way for them to stay connected.”
From Shapadu’s operational standpoint, it may not be feasible for its crews to leverage the existing VSAT equipment installed at these offshore platforms. To establish fast and secure mobile communications, the Shapadu engineering teams needed to be equipped with their own solutions in order to maintain daily contact with their head offices in Malaysia.
“It’s absolutely essential for us to have our own communications equipment, because we need to stay connected at all times during the exploration processes,” says Shafiz. “We cannot afford the downtime that may result from us having to address potential technical issues associated with setting up a satellite communications network.”
Shafiz purchased a pair of Thuraya XT handsets from Thuraya partner, Radii Teknologi. One of the world’s toughest and smallest satellite phones, the Thuraya XT enables Shapadu to operate in difficult environments located in a region known for its monsoon weather and summer typhoons.
Shafiz said: “The Thuraya XT is a great satellite handset that offers a very high standard of voice quality. I’d recommend it to any company who needs to make and receive satellite calls from remote locations. Additionally, the robust and durable features of the phone have been proven to withstand the harsh conditions that we operate in.”
Battery life is an important consideration because the opportunities to recharge the communications equipment can be limited when operating in the oilfields. To this end, the Thuraya XT provides up to six hours of talk time and 80 hours on standby. Another key factor is the omnidirectional antenna of the Thuraya XT, which ensures an uninterrupted signal during non-stationary calls.
“I don’t have to stand still with the antenna pointing at the satellite and can move around while talking,” Shafiz explained. “That’s a really important advantage when you’re in the middle of a task and need to carry on while taking a call.”
Addressing increased demand for data services
Reflecting the trend towards increased volumes of data traffic, Shapadu deploys a Thuraya IP terminal to access emails and the internet while working at offshore platforms.
The Thuraya IP terminal enabled the company’s engineering teams to achieve mobile broadband connectivity at IP streaming speeds of up to 384 kbps and shared speeds of up to 444 kbps. Besides having a positive impact on its offshore operations, crew members can also leverage the Thuraya IP to keep in touch with family and friends during long work assignments.
“Reliable broadband data capability is essential for maintaining daily contact with my colleagues and the Thuraya IP terminal is incredibly easy to set up and connect to our company VPN,” said Shafiz. “If we want to send a technical video from the platform to our engineers onshore, we simply have to set up a streaming link with the Thuraya IP. Personally, I also use it regularly to Skype my family in Kuala Lumpur, which is great when you have to be away from home for weeks!”
To learn more about Thuraya’s products and services for the energy sector, visit www.thuraya.com/energy-comms