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Enabling Connectivity in the Harshest Environments: How Huawei Successfully Deployed the First Offshore LTE-Based Wireless Network in Malaysia
October 16, 2020 Blog


The mining and quarrying industry in Malaysia accounted for 7.1% of its GDP during the last quarter of 2019, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia. One of the most important contributors to this industry is the petroleum and natural gas mining sector, ranking 28th in the world for its oil reserves.

It is one of the most important pillars in the economy of Malaysia. More than 900 offshore platforms have been built over the years across the country for the purpose of oil exploration – the majority of which are over 20 years old. With recent advancements in communications and technologies, however, these offshore oil platforms urgently need to modernise their operations in order to solve various challenges in ICT and synchronise with today’s digital landscape.

Offshore platforms are subjected to extreme conditions – fluctuating weather, unstable temperature and chaotic sea behaviours, such as waves that affect the ICT operations within the platform and the exchanging of information with onshore data centres. Also, oil rigs are constantly moving due to the motion of the ocean and this can affect the networking equipment, like antennas relying on “line of sight” communications.


Lightning-Fast Connectivity Enables Rapid Modernisation

This situation introduces frequent or even a total disconnection within the networks in the offshore platforms. Aside from this, the installation of networking equipment (or any other IT equipment for that matter) poses huge challenges and risks. The conditions on an offshore oil platform present various hazards for both devices and the workforce.

As operations become increasingly data-driven, having fast, reliable and stable connectivity is becoming ever more paramount for success. However, due to these harsh conditions, it becomes extremely challenging to implement traditional, let alone next-gen wireless communication systems. The fact that offshore oil platforms are often located in the remotest of areas only exacerbates the matter further.

The oil and gas industry is not immune to the effects of digital and IR4.0 transformation. As such, various modern technologies and processes need to be implemented even in remote oil platforms to help them modernise and take operations to the next level.

Wireless communication networks serve as a vital enabler to all this progress, empowering oil rigs to implement and integrate new technologies, sensors and devices, monitoring and control systems as well as telemetry and data analytics capabilities. Having reliable wireless connectivity, with its ultra-high bandwidth and low latency, ensures that operations within the offshore platforms can be carried out effectively and huge amounts of data can be transferred and processed in real-time.


Breaking New Ground in LTE Communications Technology

Due to the stakes involved in such challenging connectivity modernisation efforts, it pays to have a technology partner with the capabilities and experience that guarantee success. Over the years, Huawei has delivered wireless communication solutions for the biggest conglomerates in the world.

Not long ago, Huawei successfully implemented the world’s first application of offshore LTE communications technology, which helped lay a solid foundation for Norwegian infrastructure company Tampnet’s future service expansion in offshore energy exploration.

Drawing on that experience, Huawei has now delivered the first offshore LTE-based wireless coverage project in Malaysia, providing a complete end-to-end solution. This includes wireless base stations and small-sized core networks, with implementation and deployment services.

In the past, petroleum services relied on traditional communication systems that used satellites for remote voice communications and helicopters to transport data on hard disks, which is both inefficient and costly. With Huawei, a much better connectivity solution is possible for the offshore oil platforms in the country.

Huawei’s advanced technologies, including high-performance, high-power wireless base stations and smart antennas, as well as full use of spectrum resources, improve spectrum efficiency – providing up to 300 Mbit/s wireless coverage for oil platform personnel. In addition, challenges in remote operations can be solved, as personnel in onshore data centres can remotely control devices in the offshore platforms.

Furthermore, the all-in-one simplified base station design solution helps in saving limited cabinet space on offshore oil platforms and reduces the overall site construction TCO by 50%. Due to the remote offshore environments, oil platforms have special requirements for maintainability and environmental compliance.

With high connection reliability, operators in the platforms can make sure that all their devices and sensors are working correctly, making sure that personnel will be alerted in case of emergencies. Huawei’s wireless solution provides ultra-high reliability (SLA: 99.999%). It is fire-resistant and supports explosion-proof functions, which meets requirements for high-risk platform environments. On top of all that, the solution provides high security, supports end-to-end encryption and comes equipped with mechanisms that prevent unauthorised user access.

It is entirely possible for offshore platforms such as oil rigs to be the target of piracy. However, unbeknownst to many, they are also vulnerable to cyberattacks, especially as they become more interconnected. With Huawei’s LTE-based wireless network, high definition surveillance cameras can be leveraged and live feeds can be provided in real-time to onshore sites.

Meanwhile, at the onshore data centres, Huawei’s solution also provides the most integrated core networks in the industry. Infused with intelligence, these networks provided by Huawei are not only highly responsive for modern workloads, but also both easy to maintain and manage.


Supporting a Smooth Evolution to 5G, Protecting Future Investments

Huawei ensures the scalability and flexibility of its wireless networks. With the emergence of 5G technologies, Huawei’s offshore oil platform wireless solution also enables a smooth evolution to 5G, protecting future investment.

Currently, the project is delivered as scheduled with the support of Huawei’s strong services & delivery team in Malaysia. In the near future, Huawei’s East Malaysia service assurance team will continuously provide high-quality maintenance services for customers.

One thing to keep in mind is that in today’s digital age, you can’t discount the importance of connectivity. It enables vital communications and enables the effective exchange of data, which has become the most valuable asset for digitally transforming businesses all over the world.

The success showcased here demonstrates Huawei’s commitment to providing better connectivity and experiences to all, from the densest cities to the most remote areas on the planet. There is no challenge too great for Huawei in its mission to bring about a more connected and intelligent future.

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