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Wireless world first for offshore oil workers

First Wi Fi in the world for offshore oil workers
Schlumberger and BT Openzone Wi-Fi installation at Byford Dolphin shows unprecedented demand for offshore Internet service

Schlumberger and BT today announced the launch of the world’s first public wireless broadband service for offshore and remote oil and gas drilling rigs and production platforms. This pioneering service means that offshore workers can now communicate more easily with friends and family back home using e-mail, instant messaging and web cam.

The service, installed by the Schlumberger Information Solutions (SIS), has been operational on the Byford Dolphin rig in the North Sea during a three month trial. Wireless connectivity is provided over the rig’s main satellite link. The Wi-Fi service allows the 100+ workers to use wirelessly enabled laptops and PDAs, throughout the rig accommodation area, to access the internet as they would from any BT Openzone hotspot onshore.

The Byford Dolphin rig, managed by Dolphin Drilling Ltd, operates primarily in the North Sea.  Despite the rig moves and distances, rig workers are still able to use Wireless Broadband to communicate with loved ones and friends back home.

Because of the success of the trial, Schlumberger will now roll-out the public wireless service globally for remote and offshore drilling and production operations.

Demetrios Stellas, vice president for Digital Infrastructure, SIS, said: “Our industry is continually looking for new ways to improve the welfare and wellbeing of offshore and remote workers. Increasingly, offshore workers expect to have access to the internet services that they can get at home.  We believe that this new service will be recognised as a real benefit by oil workers who often work in harsh and difficult environments both offshore and in frontier locations.” 

Tim Passingham, general manager for BT oil and gas, said: “The BT and Schlumberger Offshore wireless connectivity service allows the industry to realise further the benefits promised by the Digital Oilfield. We’re proud to be working with Schlumberger in partnership to provide this service for offshore workers away from home that will improve their quality of life.”

Users can buy vouchers onboard or can subscribe to the service online. UK-based BT Total Broadband customers, who are members of the BT FON community and receive inclusive Wi-Fi minutes, can also take advantage of these when they are away working on the rig.

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