FPSO Terra Nova

Customer Stories

FPSO Terra Nova Chooses Nautel’s Vector NDB System and Exceptional Customer Service

The Terra Nova Floating Production Storage and Offloading Vessel (FPSO) is located in the Terra Nova oil and gas field operated by Petro-Canada off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Early in 2005, frustrated Terra Nova personnel decided to contact Nautel due to recurrent problems with another manufacturer’s NDB system which remained unresolved and investigate a potential solution to their NDB problems. They learned of Nautel’s newly designed Vector NDB system which offered a patented solution to maintain system coverage regardless of undesirable antenna effects such as salt build-up on antenna insulators.

Nautel technician, Tim Oakes traveled to the Terra Nova in March 2005 to perform a site survey and discuss the recurrent problems which had been plaguing their current “non-Nautel” NDB system. Tim suggested that a better location for the ATU would be beneficial. Also, the Beacon Monitor receiver was found to be non-operational and Tim suggested improvements could be made to the grounding of the heli-deck antenna supports and insulators which could mitigate the risk of corona and arcing. A Nautel Vector 500 NDB with ATU-LP was recommended for installation. Please note that this was Nautel’s first Vector offshore product offering. For information on our current offshore product offerings, please see Offshore Vector NDB Systems.

FPSO Terra Nova off Newfoundland, Canada.

In August, 2006 while the Terra Nova was in dry dock at Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Nautel technician, Scott MacLeod installed, set-up, tuned and commissioned a Vector 500 NDB and ATU-LP in customer-supplied cabinets as per the customer vessel’s specific requirements. The Vector System’s tuning and operation was checked again once the ship went to wet dock and it was noted that minor system adjustments may be necessary when the Terra Nova was back at sea.

At the Terra Nova’s request, Nautel technician Gary Warner arrived onboard FPSO Terra Nova located in the oil and gas field 350km east-southeast off the coast of Newfoundland in September of 2006 to commission and fine tune the Nautel equipment. The Nautel Vector system behaved exactly as anticipated. Range tests were conducted during Gary’s time onboard the Terra Nova and it was reported that a Helicopter could receive good signal strength off of the coast of Newfoundland approximately 150 miles from the FPSO location. The customer was very pleased with The Vector NDB system’s performance.

In March, 2007 FPSO Terra Nova reported possible beacon interference concerns and technician Scott MacLeod returned to the vessel to investigate the source of this interference and, if possible, rectify whilst onboard.

The specific symptoms were:

  • During dry conditions the portable aeronautical VHF AM transceiver was inoperable as a result of the beacon identification code being more prevalent audibly than the intended voice traffic
  • During wet conditions the beacon identification code was not audible on the VHF AM transceiver. Interference from the NDB required squelch on the VHF FM marine transceiver to be increased.
  • The supply vessel reported loss of DGPS correction when beacon was broadcasting.

Technician Scott MacLeod conducted numerous tests of the system under different weather conditions during his time onboard the Terra Nova.

The most significant area of concern discovered during the testing was the heli-deck antenna manufactured by another NDB manufacturer which showed signs of arcing and corona at the insulator assemblies. It was determined after review of the insulator assembly that the removal of the Teflon insert would provide a better bond between the antenna’s radiating long wire and the insulating material minimizing the potential for corona. The Teflon Inserts were removed from the insulators and further testing resulted in no corona or arcing.

The elimination of the corona and arcing also eliminated the interference problems with the VHF AM transceiver and the VHF FM transceiver.

Scott’s investigation into the loss of the supply vessel’s DGPS corrections resulted in the reduction of the NDB’s RF output power to minimize the risk of this occurrence. The operating frequency of the NDB on the Terra Nova was 303kHz which also happened to be in the middle of the DGPS band (283.5 kHz – 325 kHz) and the signal strength from the Terra Nova’s NDB when operational was overdriving the DGPS receiver on the supply vessel. Scott also changed the beacon identification tone frequency from 1020Hz to 400Hz which is recommended for NDBs used in the offshore to mitigate the problems which can occur when operating into the narrow band NDB antennas typically used with offshore NDB systems.

Arctic drillship, Kulluck in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea.

As a direct result of Nautel’s successful installation, the Vector NDB system’s performance and exceptional customer support onboard the FPSO Terra Nova, a follow-on order was secured from Shell as part of an electronic and mechanical equipment overhaul of the Arctic drillship, Kulluck in 2008 for Shell’s renewed drilling campaign in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea.

Learn more about NDB Offshore Systems

Nautel adds… After extensive research into the most common antenna-related field issues, the ATU-LP and ATU-HP automatic antenna tuning units were developed to:

  • provide industry-leading, state-of-the-art antenna impedance matching to the associated Vector NDB transmitters under all weather conditions
  • mitigate the effects of seasonal ground conductivity variations and the build-up of salt and other environmental contaminants on antenna insulators
  • provide a constant and stable coverage when used in conjunction with Vector NDB transmitters

To learn more about the development, testing and functionality of the ATU-LP and ATU-HP automatic antenna tuning units please read more in the following white paper Engineering the All Weather Antenna Tuning Unit (ATU)

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