Question about Offshore Rigs Radio Equipment

Tomvart
28th April 2008, 13:06
Can any guys who have worked or are working offshore give me an idea of what Radio/Satcom gear is fitted to the offshore Oil and Gas rigs these days?
Having spoken to Rigs while at sea I know for sure they have (that should read HAD, as it was over 10 years since I was last at Sea) VHF and HF, I was wondering if the rigs moored beyond line of sight of land had anything other than HF to give them that over the horizon comms ability (such as SHF or UHF Satcom).

Thanks for any help.

Regards,

Tom

Gordon L Smeaton
28th April 2008, 13:38
Tom

Most of the rigs these days will have direct sat comms utilising the KU band or equivalent, depending on how much they spend determines the amout of bandwidth they are allowed, minimum usually along the lines of 2 direct phones, fax line, data line one or two "payphones", this is comms 24/7 they rent the line and have instantaneous links basically a remote office. Some merchant ship companies also fitting similar equipment allowing instant comms crew access to internet and telephone. They will still have to comply with GMDSS rules etc but this equipment will be rarely used for communications purposes.

Regards

Gordon

Tomvart
28th April 2008, 14:18
Gordon,
Thanks very much for your comprehensive reply, I appreciate it - How times have changed!
Kind regards,
Tom

R651400
30th April 2008, 18:55
Tom, I'm sure before satcom the rigs communicated mainly with Stonehaven/GND using tropospheric scatter (tropo). As this was well after my time, Hawkeye01 should be able to give you some answers. Regds

Keckers
18th May 2008, 10:27
Alba Northern Platform - main radio room equipment
(we also have another "duplicate" radio room elsewhere - near heliadmin for evacuation purposes....)

Sailor Compact HF SSB RE2100 transceiver
2 x Sailor VHF's RT2048
2 x Park Air (Airband Tx/Rx's)
1 x Panasonic fax machine
3 x PC's - all linked to LOS - then Fibreoptic link to onshore via the Forties Field.
1 x Sailor Fleet 77 INMARSAT

A pretty miserly collection when comapred to the old days.

We've got about 65 pc's all linked by the aforementioned LOS/Fibre link, plus a huge broadband connection and we regularly video conference, have an internet cafe and a wifi link in heliadmin area. Not to mention all the telemetry and data gubbins. Enough techno gear to make yer head ache!

K urgess
18th May 2008, 16:07
Sounds fascinating, Keckers.
I suppose in this age of security and uptightness pictures in the gallery would be out of the question.
Nice to see that at least Sailor is still going strong.
Cheers
Kris

RayJordandpo
18th May 2008, 17:40
The rig I am on utilises most of the systems mentioned but we also have
V-Sat. This is an excellent system enabling me to have an internet connection in my cabin. I use Skype through this which is a very efficient and cheap means of comms. When I am offshore I make a 30 minute phone call from Mexico to UK every day and my bill after four weeks is about 30 euros. Pretty good value I would say.

mikeg
18th May 2008, 20:21
Hi Keckers,

Are they still using troposcatter systems offshore? Seem to remember you can get some quite good data rates with tropo of around 8 Mb/sec links to several hundred kilometres distance ... or perhaps thats whats used for broadband connections nowadays?
Mike

Tomvart
19th May 2008, 00:11
Thanks for all the info guys
Regards,
Tom

Keckers
19th May 2008, 08:36
Hi Keckers,

Are they still using troposcatter systems offshore? Seem to remember you can get some quite good data rates with tropo of around 8 Mb/sec links to several hundred kilometres distance ... or perhaps thats whats used for broadband connections nowadays?
Mike

I think some of the older rigs still use it - but not around here. Think most "floaters" use Ku band gear. BP put the fibre optic cable into the Forties field and we connect through LOS via the forties (as does the Britannia gas platform - 2 nm away). We lose the connection sometimes when the Forties "park" their crane in front of the dishes though which is a tad inconvenient. We are supposed to be getting an alternate route through Britannia, Armada etc, but not sure if that's up and running yet. We have an independent system for our "welfare" broadband - its just under 1 meg, but sufficient for web browsing.

I'll see what I can do regarding photos next time out (need a camera permit etc, etc).

mikeg
19th May 2008, 10:47
I think some of the older rigs still use it - but not around here. Think most "floaters" use Ku band gear. BP put the fibre optic cable into the Forties field and we connect through LOS via the forties (as does the Britannia gas platform - 2 nm away). We lose the connection sometimes when the Forties "park" their crane in front of the dishes though which is a tad inconvenient. We are supposed to be getting an alternate route through Britannia, Armada etc, but not sure if that's up and running yet. We have an independent system for our "welfare" broadband - its just under 1 meg, but sufficient for web browsing.

I'll see what I can do regarding photos next time out (need a camera permit etc, etc).

Many thanks Keckers for that information, us landlocked landlubbers soon get out of touch with comms & data progress offshore. Hope you manage a camera permit okay, it'll be very interesting to see photos.
Talking about the crane blocking the dishes, in the early days of satcom on Shell Tankers VLCC's they put the dish assembly on a short transverse railway line up on the monkey island so you could actually unlock the brake and physically move the dish along the line should the funnel block the signal. Looked a bit Heath Robinson though(Smoke)

Keckers
20th May 2008, 11:38
Just posted a pic in the gallery - not a great shot - but its an offshore radio room. I've got more but how do we just attach as thumbnails to a message? I've figured it out - hope you can make them out ok.

bobharrison2002
20th May 2008, 12:27
Where's the morse key?

Bob

Tomvart
20th May 2008, 13:20
Keckers,
Thanks for the Photo's it's always good to view what you are discussing, looks kind of cosy!
Regards,
Tom

K urgess
20th May 2008, 14:02
Thanks for those, Keckers. (Thumb)
Doesn't look an awful lot different to where I'm sitting at the moment.
I've still got a couple of morse keys though. [=P]

Kris

stewart devlin
6th July 2008, 08:57
Here on BP's Clair platform we have Ku band link to shore providing free phone calls and internet access to a network of around 50 PCs 24 hours a day. Sounds a pretty similar arrangement to Keckers on Alba except that we do not have to go via another platform. Fibre opric link being installed at the moment, tied into a new FO cable laid between Shetland and Faroe Islands (we are the only fixed platform West of Shetland). There is no Radio Room, helicopter operations are handled by the Chief Steward, marine VHF operations are handled by control room operators. There is a Sailor HF SSB RE2100 GMDSS set but it has been installed in an equipment room that is not normally manned so it is switched off. Inmarsat and Iridium phones are our emergency communications with the beach. 4 x free-fall lifeboats with ICOM VHF sets, EPIRBS and SARTs installed. I am here to keep it all going.

mikeg
6th July 2008, 11:56
Hi Keckers,

Thanks for the offshore radio room pictures, a lot different from the early days but it appears to be a comfortable environment to work in. Noticed from the display you have QNH, QFE and WX info required by the helicopter pilots therefore I assume radio room personnel also undertake ATC duties? Do you get any additional aero based R/T training for this?

stewart devlin
7th July 2008, 08:07
Hi Mikeg,

There is a short course for working the choppers on the aero bands but, as I had a full deep-sea ticket, they just issued me with mine 20-odd years ago. I think everyone has to actually do the course now. The accommodation on most rigs and platforms is not too bad but there is one major drawback as far as I am concerned, sharing a cabin. Even though this is a new platform the cabins still have bunk beds. I believe this is no longer allowed in the Norwegian sector but is still common practice in the UK sector. Still, it's better than some of the platforms in the early days, the first rig I worked on had 8-man cabins and a large communal shower area.

mikeg
7th July 2008, 12:54
Hi Stewart,

As long as your shared cabin doesn't bring a 110dB snore along with it or worse! I think that bunk beds and cabin sharing are really not on nowadays, the Norwegians have it right - its more conducive to your wellbeing. All my time at sea I never had to share a cabin but there again I suppose rig and platform space is more at a premium than most ocean going ships. I remember my surprise some years ago when travelling by British Rail sleeper that it was a shared sleeping compartment - I had no idea and a stranger as well!

stewart devlin
7th July 2008, 13:37
That's the big problem Mike, people who snore, and some people's personal hygiene standards are pretty poor too. It's bad enough having to share at all but some trips I might share with 4 or 5 different people over the two week trip, all on the same shift as me. It's not quite so bad if one of you is on night shift. Must stop moaning or I'll find myself on Grumpy Old Men.

Ron Stringer
7th July 2008, 14:17
Spent 10 days on 'Staflo' when she first went off Shetland. Because we had only gone there 'for the day' to carry out some tests, but got fogged in, I had to hot-bed in whichever of the divers' bunks were free. The cabin slept 4 but the problem was not my cabin-mates but the fact that their cabin was next to the smoke-room, with a TV on the other side of the bulkhead. Snoring might have been preferable.

McCloggie
7th July 2008, 15:28
If I was at work I could give you a complete run down on what a new North Sea FPSO carries. I can reply tomorrow!

Off the top of my head, we have three INMARSAT systems, MF/HF transceiver, VHF (marine and aeronautical), UHF, VSAT, Iridium plus the usual EPIRBs etc. etc. to meet GMDSS requirements.

We do not have a dedicated Radio Room - it is the Marine/Comms Tech's job and everyhting is on the Marine desk in the Control Room.

McC

mikeg
7th July 2008, 19:00
If I was at work I could give you a complete run down on what a new North Sea FPSO carries. I can reply tomorrow!

Off the top of my head, we have three INMARSAT systems, MF/HF transceiver, VHF (marine and aeronautical), UHF, VSAT, Iridium plus the usual EPIRBs etc. etc. to meet GMDSS requirements.

We do not have a dedicated Radio Room - it is the Marine/Comms Tech's job and everyhting is on the Marine desk in the Control Room.

McC

Seems to be well equipped with three Inmarsat systems. I'm very much out of touch now but I hadn't come across the term FPSO before - which I googled as Floating Production Storage & Offloading unit - thanks I'll read up on that.
Apart from the comms equipment are you equipped with an aeronautical VHF D/F and due any of the rigs/platforms have a radiobeacon either NDB or VHF?

stewart devlin
7th July 2008, 22:56
We do not have a aero VHF D/F, and I have never heard of a platform with one but I might be wrong. However I think all rigs and platforms are fitted with an MF NDB. The frequency varies on the sector of the North Sea, ours is on 327KHz, call sign CRA - still in Morse!!!

G4UMW
7th July 2008, 23:50
Might be wrong, but on the last of Keckers' photos the top left-hand display in the blue console looks very much like a VHF/DF display. Digital readout of the bearing in the centre and a circular row of LEDs around the edge of the dial giving a quick visual guesstimate of the bearing. There would also be a switch to enable the gear to display a bearing from the station (QTE) or course to fly to the station (QDM).


Rob

mikeg
8th July 2008, 00:54
Might be wrong, but on the last of Keckers' photos the top left-hand display in the blue console looks very much like a VHF/DF display. Digital readout of the bearing in the centre and a circular row of LEDs around the edge of the dial giving a quick visual guesstimate of the bearing. There would also be a switch to enable the gear to display a bearing from the station (QTE) or course to fly to the station (QDM).


Rob

Had a second look at that photo and I'm sure you're right Rob, it looks quite similiar to the VHF/DF used in my local airport EGPE ATC. (Saw a picture of it whilst at a FRTOL training session).

McCloggie
8th July 2008, 02:47
Morning - back at work!

For our new FPSO for the North Sea we have:

3 x VHF Marine Band main systems + portables
2 x VHF Air Band main systems + portables
UHF system (internal - cranes etc.)
GMDSS system consisting of MF/HF; 2 x Inmarsat C, Distress alert controller; GPS.
VSAT System
Inmarsat F system
Iridium system
EPIRB
SART system
Lifeboat radios

If we ever get there it will be just great!

McC

McCloggie
8th July 2008, 02:52
Sorry - posted first and read threads later!

Mikeg - yes we do have a helicopter NDB. Most installations do as well and they are used in bad weather at the request of the aircraft.

McC

R651400
8th July 2008, 08:18
Just to keep an old morse man happy can you give at least once the full meaning of your abbreviations in quotes. mni tks

McCloggie
8th July 2008, 08:44
R651400;
Dont know how much you want to know so hear goes:

As has been said before - FPSO = Floating Production, Storage and Offloading tanker.

VHF - Very High Frequency
UHF - Ultra High Frequency
HF/MF - High Frequency/Medium Frequency
GMDSS - Global Maritime Distress Safety System
EPIRB - Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon
SART - Search and Rescue Transponder
GPS - Global Positioning System
NDB - Non Directional Radio Beacon

Inmarsat - trade name for the satelite communications provider.

Dont worry though, we still have a little Morse code on our vessels - the Navigational Warning lights still flash the letter "U" in morse when we are anchored on stsation in the oil field and on our ship offshore South Africa they have their own Racon - the FPSO has its designated morse identifier which shows up on radar screens of other vessels.

McC

R651400
8th July 2008, 09:27
Thanks McC got a better idea now. 73 de Malc

stewart devlin
8th July 2008, 22:42
Hi Rob, I'm sure Keckers will put us right but, althought it is not a display I am familiar with, I suspect it is a readout of the wind speed and direction.

I forgot to mention earlier that we also have 2 X-band Furuno ARPA radars. Not that we can go anywhere but we are in something of a shipping lane and the biggest hazard to the platform is considered to be collision from a passing tanker that shuttles past us every couple of days. The ARPA is set up to give us early warning of any vessels on collision course with the platform.

G4UMW
9th July 2008, 10:16
I did say I might be wrong! (?HUH)

This, however is definitely an aeronautical VHF/DF display.

Rob