Broadband brought to Aramco’s remote areas
Drilling and Workover’s project to bring hundreds of sites online by 2024.
High speed connectivity to the internet and to general corporate network resources are of paramount importance for any of Aramco’s business operations. And while connectivity to the internet is something that most employees take for granted, it is often a challenge to get a good signal in remote areas, especially those that are nonstationary, such as drilling rigs, seismic crews, and construction sites.
Challenges faced by remote sites include speed limitations of satellite communications and the technical limitations of legacy terrestrial communications networks. This has led the company’s Information Technology (IT) teams to scout for new technologies and deploy cutting-edge solutions to improve data flow from and to all company operating areas.
We are leveraging multiple technologies such as data analytics, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and broadband networks, blockchain, and other technologies to take corporate operations and business processes to the desired highest levels of automation and efficiency.
—Yousef Al-Ulayan, IT vice president
Connecting remote sites
To help improve the efficiency of complex drilling operations and digitize associated business processes, IT engineering teams have recently equipped 55 onshore and offshore remote drilling rigs at the Marjan, Hawiyah, and Haradh areas with a “broadband” wireless connectivity solution that provides 20 times the speed of current communications methods.
This solution is also planned to be expanded to cover more than 300 remote Aramco sites by 2024.
“The broadband solution will enhance the efficiency of relevant company operations, improve customer experience, and elevate quality of life at the remote sites,” said Omar Al-Thukair, IT Engineering Department manager. “[We] will continue to provide cutting-edge solutions as the company continues its pursuit to digital transformation.”
The broadband solution will enable drilling geosteering experts at Dhahran to manage remote rig operations with more confidence and efficiency. It will also allow the company to monitor video feeds from cameras at the drilling rig sites to maintain their security from any location in the Kingdom.
High speed connectivity will also contribute to the well-being and development of the field staff at the rig sites, providing them with video communications capabilities with their peers and families as well as online access to e-Learning resources, e-banking, e-government services, and other corporate network resources.
This broadband solution will enable rigs in remote locations to receive virtual reality and augmented reality training sessions and experience the Internet of Things.
— Nayef K. Ghafel, Drilling & Workover Operations manager
“This enhancement will work in conjunction with exceptional existing IT services at our drilling sites such as IP phones, video conferencing, and the corporate Shahed platform,” Ghafel said.
More to come
As the fifth generation mobile networks “WiFi 6” and “Low Earth Orbit” satellite services become more mature and gain more global coverage in upcoming years; IT, in partnership with Drilling and Workover and other benefiting proponents, is also expecting to adopt some of these new technologies to implement more digital transformation use cases at remote sites.
“These instantaneous communication technologies will allow for more agile business process decisions to be made in real-time with significantly more relevant data at our disposal,” said Omar S. Al-Husaini, Drilling and Workover executive director.