Like many companies involved in the oil industry, ISN get a lot of cold calls asking us to attend or sponsor events taking place around the world. However we were lucky that some of the most worthwhile ones we attended last year took place within walking distance of our office in Notting Hill. This year we decided to sponsor SMi’s 5th annual conference on Oil & Gas Communications on 21-22 March. Last year’s conference was a great opportunity to meet people involved in comms at oil and service companies. This year we were looking forward to some entertaining presentations, catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones. Here are some of my own personal highlights from the presentations given:
Professor Ifiok Otung, Professor of Satellite Communications at Glamorgan University, started by reclaiming the word “bandwidth” from the sales and marketing world and explained the science behind satellite bit-rate and the limitations that prevent faster links. He issued a challenge to satellite providers asking why they will not break with the status quo and simply design satellites with bigger antennae to give us faster satellite communications.
Hassan Karim, Saudi Aramco’s charismatic Communications Engineer, explored some of the potential security threats to the oil industry in a new era where the systems exposed to threat (attack surface) is much greater and the sources of danger (attack vectors) have increased exponentially. He showed us how attacks on VSAT might take place and provided some suggestions for countering them. Conferences can soon become dull if there are no questions from the floor, but there was no danger of this when Hassan took his seat in the audience.
Dennis Vause, Tullow Oil’s new Head of Infrastructure, discussed some of the challenges of delivering comms to onshore well sites in Africa and made the point that a slower more expensive VSAT link that works all the time is far better than a fast, cheap fibre or WiMax solution that works sometimes.
Hugh McIntyre, Head of IT infrastructure at Wood Group outlined the company’s value system: safety, relationships, social responsibility, people, innovation, financial responsibility and integrity. Living those values is a key reason why they are one of the most successful and fastest growing service companies in the industry. He illustrated his talk with stories of how those values were applied in their work worldwide. At ISN we agree wholeheartedly that it takes more than technical skill to deliver the best IT, comms and services to customers.
Kassim Al Hassani has been involved for many years in the comms regulatory institutions of Iraq and his explanation of how things are done in Iraq was invaluable for our own new projects in Kurdistan.
Our pick of forthcoming events relating to IT infrastructure in the oil industry are, Finding Petroleum’s conference: IT Infrastructure for the Digital Oilfield in Aberdeen on 7 June and SMi’s Oil and Gas Cyber Security Conference 14-15 November 2012.
Come and meet us at the Aberdeen event where we will be presenting our own experiences of how oilfield technology is evolving and looking ahead to future possibilities.