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gullfaks a by øyvind hagen ©equinor

Connectivity Empowers Equinor’s Drone OperationsTelenor Maritime’s Connectivity Solutions Enhance Efficiency & Safety in the North Sea

Equinor, Norway’s leading oil and gas operator on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), is breaking new ground by incorporating drone technology into its offshore operations. 

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Equinor's strategic initiative is expected to significantly boost operational efficiency, leading to cost savings of more than 100 million Norwegian kroner.

As Equinor’s dedicated connectivity partner, Telenor Maritime plays a pivotal role in delivering maritime connectivity solutions and a sturdy, ATEX (explosion proof) network infrastructure for this innovative project.

Success with customised network solution

Equinor will deploy remote-controlled drones between Equinor’s processing centre at Mongstad on the west coast of Norway and three installations in the Gullfaks oil field in the North Sea, as well as between installations. Drones will be used for on-demand cargo services, swiftly delivering spare parts, equipment and care packages to offshore locations in the North Sea, especially in time-critical situations.

In collaboration with Irish drone operator, Skyport, Telenor Maritime has successfully implemented a customised network solution. Skyport utilises Telenor Maritime SIM cards in its drones, facilitating Offshore Mobile Services to enable fast and continuous 4G/LTE coverage between shore and sea.

Telenor Maritime plans to expand the coverage on Equinor’s platforms, and will carry out a pilot project to test and optimise drone connectivity on Statfjord B. To strengthen the offshore network infrastructure, Telenor Maritime will install additional antennas and a Radio Base Station. This ATEX approved solution will ensure stable coverage in gas environments, providing a superior connection for drones, helicopters and equipment requiring a higher up-time. The robust network guarantees the safe and reliable operation of Equinor’s drones which are piloted remotely from the shore. In addition, the constant connection mitigates the risk of a connection being lost if devices are switched off in the event of an emergency.

More sustainable offshore operations

Equinor has already witnessed the practicality of drone usage during a test period when drones were deployed from Equinor’s supply base in Mongstad to urgently deliver supplies offshore. Unlike traditional supply ships, which typically take two days to reach a platform, drones can traverse the distance in as little as 1-2 hours. In addition to being cost-effective and faster to mobilise, safer than conventional transportation methods, and able to fly in lower visibility conditions, drones also produce zero operating emissions. This contributes to a reduction in CO2 emissions for more sustainable offshore operations, supporting Equinor’s low carbon goal.

As the trusted mobile service provider for industry innovators Equinor and Skyport, Telenor Maritime takes pride in empowering offshore drone technologies with reliable connectivity. From the smallest fishing vessels to the largest offshore installations, Telenor Maritime gives the offshore and maritime industries the stability and efficiency they need from their networks. Telenor Maritime’s Network Operations Centre (NOC) operates around the clock, providing 24/7 support and monitoring to keep operations, crew and passengers safe and connected at sea.