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Energy and Petrochemical

Wireless and fiber optic technologies are helping energy, petrochemical, and utility companies operate more efficiently. Fiber optics are being used to maximize oil drilling, while wireless communications improve operations and create a safer environment.

Fiber Optics

Fiber optic sensors and cables are commonly part of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) methods used to improve efficiency during upstream production, downstream transport, and refining of crude oil and natural gas. One popular EOR technique is Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD), which uses DTS (distributed temperature sensing) to provide oil and gas operators with a reliable and cost-effective way to better manage reservoirs, wellbores, and completions.

Many oil and gas companies rely on proper installation and accurate operation of their systems. OTDR technology is often used when a fiber line is installed in an oil well, and to check the line before a DTS run to ensure the most precise readings are made.

Offshore Wireless Communications

Oil and gas companies are also using wireless technologies to gather and transmit critical data that aid in managing drilling equipment, pumping systems, and level monitors. Wireless technologies are integral in voice and data communications between offshore rigs and ships, and mainland operations, as well.

Reliable communications services – whether it is broadband satellite, high-speed Internet, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), Wi-Fi, or VHF radio backhaul services – help in one other critical way. They help create a safer work environment for personnel.

Traditional base station transceivers usually consist of some antenna(s) being fed signals via long runs of coaxial cable or waveguide, and usually also contain protective elements like lightning arrestors (polyphaser for example) and may also contain filters, combiners, amplifiers etc… These elements must all be operating within their design specifications in order to maintain a robust communication link between the mainland and offshore equipment. Portable, hand held Cable/Antenna Analyzers or hand held Vector Network Analyzers are ideal for installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of these systems.

More modern base station transceivers are typically more integrated, with the majority of the required hardware residing within a single radio unit which is mounted on the tower near the antenna(s). These systems are typically fed digital data signals through fiber optic links, although in some cases they may be fed digital signals through CAT 5e or CAT 6 twisted pair cables. These types of systems will require more over the air (OTA) testing to verify that the transmitted signals are as expected. A hand held Spectrum Analyzer with signal analysis capability is a very useful instrument for verifying proper operation and/or troubleshooting these types of systems if a problem does occur.

Smart Grid

Wireless technologies are also being used onshore by utility companies, as part of smart grids that help improve customer service and better control energy consumption. A smart grid system consists of home area networks (HAN), field area networks (FAN), and wide area networks (WAN). Each requires robust signal coverage to avoid interference. Utilities must have tools to effectively plan their systems, rapidly diagnose problems and maintain network security.

Indoor and outdoor coverage mapping tools provide utility companies with powerful and sophisticated analysis capabilities directly suited for their smart grid networks. These tools can aid in network planning, optimization, and maintenance of network infrastructure, saving utilities time and money.

In-Building Wireless Communications

The purpose of an in-building wireless In dense urban environments, adjacent buildings may create an RF barrier that blocks coverage from nearby macro sites. Tall buildings typically have poor coverage on upper floors since macro site antennas, many floors below, are specifically designed to suppress energy radiating above the horizon. Capacity may be an issue in venues such as stadiums, coliseums and convention centers where many thousands of users may be trying to simultaneously access the network.