Saudi Aramco and ADNOC Logistics & Services are the latest owners and charterers to implement IoT solutions
Owners and charterers of OSVs in the Middle East are in the process of implementing digitalisation technologies that utilise the latest satellite communications technologies.
Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest energy producer, is investing in offshore vessel tracking and fuel monitoring to optimise fleet performance. Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) Logistics & Services is deploying digital monitoring across its fleet to cut operating costs and reduce its environmental footprint.
More owners are turning to Inmarsat’s Fleet Data internet-of-things (IoT)-based platform, which facilitates the collection, processing and storage of vessel/equipment data.
Inmarsat Maritime vice president for offshore energy and fishing Eric Griffin tells Offshore Support Journal his team are “in discussions with every major OSV operator in the Middle East regarding the use of Fleet Data.”
He expects many of these discussions will turn into negotiations and installations on vessels in the region. “Talks are about how, rather than if, they can use it,” he says.
Fleet Data uses connectivity from Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress services. This combines high throughput in Ka-band of radio frequencies, via Inmarsat’s Global Xpress satellite constellation, and L-band through FleetBroadband.
“Global connectivity is guaranteed”
Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress OSV clients include Bourbon, with 100 vessels connected, Tidewater (60 vessels) and Maersk Supply (40 vessels). Fleet Xpress will also be installed on Atlantic Offshore’s fleet.
“Fleet Data is also sent over the satellite link via a logically separated connection from corporate and crew traffic, allowing vessel owners to get their data back securely from the vessel,” explains Mr Griffin.
“Third-party offshore vessel charterers can even use a dedicated Fleet Connect pipe, without interrupting the primary bandwidth being provided to an OSV,” he adds.
Fleet Connect enables companies chartering OSVs to manage their own smart vessel performance using existing terminals and hardware on board, but separate from crew, owner and data bandwidth.
“Fleet Data is now supporting near real-time remote equipment and fuel monitoring to enable better decision-making,” says Mr Griffin. “Typical applications being deployed by OSV owner/operators include task rationalisation, energy advisory systems to reduce fuel consumption, and equipment monitoring to drive predictive maintenance.
Fleet Data is available to providers of digitalisation applications and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
“Beyond bandwidth, OEMs can engage with ships via our IoT-based platform,” says Mr Griffin.
Fleet Data collects information from onboard sensors, pre-processes it and uploads it to a secure cloud-based platform for easy access with no additional airtime cost.
Extracted from the Fleet Data server via an application program interface (API), information from sensors is displayed on a customisable dashboard, where it can be monitored and analysed.
“Fleet Data enables users to benchmark data and improve vessel or fleet-wide operational efficiency and performance,” says Mr Griffin.
Inmarsat is partnering with almost 50 certified application providers (CAP), whose solutions cover all aspects of vessel performance and matters related to safety, environmental footprint and crew welfare.
“A crucial factor in the progress of the Fleet Data platform has proved to be its dedicated bandwidth service, which delivers connectivity independent of the shipowner’s primary bandwidth,” says Mr Griffin.
“This allows CAPs to access thousands of vessels via an always-on, or on-demand, two-way communication channel. Global connectivity is guaranteed, and CAPs do not need to install their own hardware on the ship.”
Inmarsat has developed a dual antenna option for Fleet Xpress, which overcomes any line-of-sight issues that vessels may encounter while working under or around rigs or offshore production facilities.
Inmarsat has also extended its service portfolio to include existing long-term evolution (LTE)/4G offshore networks, following an agreement with subsea fibre and offshore LTE network operator, Tampnet.
“Talks are about how, rather than if, they can use it”
“Initially covering the North Sea, Fleet LTE is being extended to the Gulf of Mexico, with field trials soon to be underway for commercial availability to vessel owners in mid-2021,” says Mr Griffin.
“Fleet LTE service means customers can access high-speed 4G, Fleet Xpress maritime VSAT Ka-band and continuous L-band connectivity within a single, fully managed hybrid package,” he explains.
“Service transition between LTE and VSAT is fully automated, with routing depending on data needs and network conditions, while vessels only need to add two LTE antenna and a modem on deck to enable the upgrade, which can be rented or purchased,” he adds.
Saudi Aramco is investing in fleet IoT deployment for fuel optimisation, vessel tracking and safety provisions.
It approved GTT Group subsidiary Ascenz and Credence Offshore in Q1 2021 as a vendor to deploy electronic fuel monitoring systems across its offshore vessels, as part of its digital transformation programme.
This supports Saudi Aramco’s vision to be the world’s leading digitalised energy company and its drive to transform its chartered-in and owned vessels into smart ships.
Saudi Aramco project management vice president Abdulkarim Al-Ghamdi says deploying fuel monitoring and vessel tracking systems has had multiple benefits: “By incorporating the latest technologies in these projects [we] achieve safe operations, cost optimisation, emissions reduction and operational efficiency.”
Saudi Aramco will install fuel monitoring sensors and IoT networks on vessels in the Middle East Gulf and Red Sea, with data transferred regularly to a cloud facility for onward analytics.
This followed a pilot on anchor-handling tug and supply vessel Zamil 301 in 2020. This 2012-built vessel transferred fuel consumption data to Saudi Aramco’s Tanajib base, where it was analysed and advice sent back to the vessel.
ADNOC Logistics & Services will install Opsealog’s Marinsights monitoring service on its 70 OSVs operating in the Middle East as part of its digitalisation strategy, as it expands offshore services in the region.
Marinsights is a performance management tool for monitoring and optimising marine offshore operations. ADNOC will implement Marinsights on its platform supply vessels, anchor-handling tug and supply ships, and fast support intervention vessels in the Middle East, under a multi-year contract with Opsealog.
This follows a five-month proof-of-concept trial with 11 vessels conducted from May 2020. During the trial, ADNOC Logistics & Services achieved a 12% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, representing 572 m3 of fuel and 1,519 tonnes equivalent of CO2.