Better offshore communication
A company to lay and operate fibre-optic cables between land and offshore installations is due to be formed this spring, with Statoil among its backers.
The other operator companies seeking to create a network of communication "motorways" in the North Sea are Norsk Hydro, Saga Petroleum and Esso.
They will be holding discussions on possible utilisation and terms with other licensees in this area, with a view to concluding deals with users and relevant suppliers during the autumn.
A cable network could cost up to NOK 400 million, reports project manager Bjørn Haug-Hanssen in Industrial Development.
Plans call for almost 700 kilometres of cable to be laid in the summer of 2000. A contract for day-to-day operation is also due to be awarded to a telecommunications company.
Most communications between land and offshore currently utilise radio and satellite links with limited capacity. Installing a fibre-optic network would allow much of today's offshore computer capacity to be shifted to land, with savings on operation and maintenance.
TV and mobile telephony can also be tied to the network.
Statoil is interested in fibre-optic cables because this technology permits remote operation of offshore installations, explains Mr Haug-Hanssen. For that reason, the group wants to control such facilities itself.
In addition, a cable network with virtually unlimited capacity could contribute to developing new work processes and modes of operation, which can in turn increase oil and gas production at lower cost.
The network can also be utilised commercially between countries around the North Sea, and these opportunities are now being studied.