What is a key driver for an ‘Intelligent Oilfield’?

24 November 2015

Cameron Wallace - Director of Communications, Rignet

  • enterprise

  • global-xpress

Welcome to the first guest blog in a series of contributions from our distribution partners. RigNet is a leading global provider of managed remote communications, telecoms systems integration and collaborative applications dedicated to the oil and gas industry.


The oil and gas industry has invested billions of dollars to make equipment ’smarter’, adding software and sensors that can help drillers to understand what’s happening in real time, and then leverage that data to plan future actions. The stakes are high, because unplanned downtime can cost drillers hundreds of thousands of dollars per day, while creating a knock-on effect that can impair a drilling schedule for months to come. Without the ability to share data between sites and teams or use data to improve reliability and uptime, much of that data’s value goes unrealized.

Until recently, remote communications capabilities have struggled to keep pace. A modern deepwater drillship receives and sends a significant amount of data, while potentially transiting between oil-producing regions multiple times in a year. These factors combine to make the offshore energy industry challenging to serve.

The introduction of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) high-throughput satellite communications network will change the way RigNet serves the energy industry with robust, reliable and globally ubiquitous connectivity. By adding Global Xpress to RigNet Interchange™ modular communications platform, RigNet and Inmarsat are enabling cutting-edge performance-enhancing capabilities that simply were not possible before.


Some of these capabilities include:

Knowledge Management. Today, drillships and key sub systems, such as blowout preventers, can gather terabytes of data on a daily basis. Knowledge Management programs seek to reduce non-productive time by evaluating the performance of marine and drilling systems together, helping identify maintenance needs before they actually occur. RigNet will utilize the bandwidth portability and geographic ubiquity of GX to ensure that onshore and offshore teams can leverage this data anywhere in the world, even during open ocean transit.

Real-Time Monitoring and Surveillance. The BP Macondo oil spill in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico marked a turning point for the offshore energy industry. A combination of industry best practices and emerging regulatory requirements make monitoring of remote assets by a variety of parties a high priority. RigNet will use the robust connectivity of GX to power our remote video monitoring products, giving energy companies and government entities the ‘always on’ access necessary to ensure safe and compliant operations.

Crew Welfare and Cyber Security.  These two goals are more closely linked than one might initially expect. Offshore crews today expect bandwidth speeds comparable to what they have access to in their homes. Poor connectivity on a vessel can lead crews to develop ever more inventive ways to reach online content, sometimes jeopardizing network security in the process. The RigNet Interchange platform will use GX to provide a high-throughput path for Crew Welfare data, physically separate from the path used for vessel operations. This bifurcation improves cyber security, increases the morale of offshore crews, and also acts as an independent failover path in the event of an outage.

Enabling an ‘Intelligent Oilfield’ is a key driver behind RigNet’s exclusive partnership with Inmarsat to offer Global Xpress to the oil and gas industry. Making the Intelligent Oilfield a reality requires a robust communications platform built upon multiple transport networks, to ensure that data created safely reaches its destination. Working with Inmarsat on a number of fronts, RigNet is bringing key Knowledge Management, Real-Time Networking and Surveillance, Crew Welfare and Cyber Security capabilities to an energy industry whose requirements will only expand in the coming years.

About the author

Cameron Wallace

Cameron Wallace is the Director of Communications of RigNet Inc, a provider of remote communications solutions to the oil and gas industry. RigNet serves offshore drilling, production, and renewable energy installations worldwide, with service and support centers in every major energy producing region. Cameron is exploring the possibilities of Big Data with equipment manufacturers and end users, identifying ways shared data can be leveraged to help solve real-world performance and reliability challenges.