Driving broadband connectivity to the next level, Alcatel-Lucent and Nextgen Group, a supplier of network connectivity, data centre facilities and cloud services in Australia, will roll out a 2000 km undersea cable system between Darwin and Port Hedland, in North West Australia.
The subsea fiber-optic cable system will provide the INPEX Ichthys Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Shell Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) projects located in the Browse Basin off North West Australia with access to high-speed data and voice communication services for the life of their operations. Work will commence in May 2014 and is scheduled for completion in 2016.
The Prelude and Ichthys projects will contribute equally to the construction of the system, which will be built by Alcatel-Lucent and will be owned and operated by the Nextgen Group. The system will provide superior reliability and quality when compared to other available communications solutions. The system has a design capacity of more than 3.2 terabits-per-second (Tbit/s), with the potential to be upgraded to more than 32 Tbit/s.
Ichthys Project Managing Director Louis Bon said constructing subsea infrastructure of this kind for private customers on the mainland was an Australian first. “This is a great achievement for the Ichthys Project and an excellent example of what collaboration in the oil and gas industry can achieve,” Mr. Bon added. “It means that both of these projects, far north of Port Hedland, will be connected to data centers thousands of kilometers away in Perth.”
Shell Prelude Asset Manager Jim Marshall said Prelude FLNG’s close proximity to Ichthys represented a significant opportunity for INPEX and Shell to achieve a better technical and commercial outcome. “The subsea cable will give us a highly reliable and stable high-speed voice and data service which is essential for effective and efficient operations at our future offshore facilities,” Mr. Marshall added. “It means that workers at Shell and INPEX will have an ultra high speed communications link so they can stay in touch with their friends and families while working at offshore facilities. Our investment will also establish a valuable piece of infrastructure that has the capacity to support the development of future offshore resources in the Browse Basin.”
Nextgen CEO Peter McGrath said the project would provide essential support to Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry. It will also establish an alternative backhaul path to Perth supporting high capacity voice and data services on land. “As an Australian company we are delighted to support two global leaders working in a sector that is the heartbeat of the national economy. This project builds on our successful track record of delivering high speed communications links for businesses, government and other users in underserviced regional and remote markets,” Mr. McGrath added.
Philippe Dumont, President of Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks, said: “Submarine fiber optic technology offers higher bandwidth availability, greater reliability and lower latency which are of critical importance to enhance the efficiency of operations on and offshore. This project further expands our presence in the oil and gas sector and is a prime example of how submarine fiber optic has become a standard for oil and gas companies to connect their offshore assets. It also demonstrates how technology advances can accompany the evolution of economic and energy needs, and address the needs of our customers to better control risks regarding system quality and project management.”