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Agip North Caspian Oil Platform Adopts RTLS Technology

The company is installing a real-time location system from Ubisense and S3 ID to track the locations of approximately 1,000 staff members on its one-square-kilometer offshore rig.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 26, 2012Agip Kazakhstan North Caspian Operating Co. (Agip KCO) is deploying radio frequency identification technology at its site in Kazakhstan, in order to track the locations of its personnel throughout the one-square-kilometer (0.38-square-mile) facility. The system—provided by British offshore tracking and muster solutions company S3 ID, using real-time location system (RTLS) hardware supplied by Ubisense—is expected to go live during the first quarter of 2013.

Agip KCO, a subsidiary of Italian oil and gas giant Eni, is constructing its new "D Island" complex and drilling site in the North Caspian Sea, off the coast of Kazakhstan. The oil field is expected to produce oil containing a high concentration of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), an extremely toxic and flammable gas. "The main challenge to Agip was the very high H2S content of the product they are extracting from the offshore facility," explains Derek Gennard, S3 ID's director.

"Because of its highly volatile and toxic nature," Gennard states, "if the H2S gas were to escape on D Island, it would be critical for the operations to be able to account for staff and move them to safety quickly. The new system is designed to do just that, by instantly locating personnel and automatically confirming those that have reached safety and mustered."

S3 ID provides solutions for personnel tracking and for mustering, using a variety of technologies designed to meet a user's specific operational needs. These include passive and active RFID tags, along with readers installed at chokepoints. However, S3 ID chose the Ubisense RTLS for Agip KCO to provide visibility greater than other systems could offer.

The solution consists of Location Awareness Cells (LACs) and virtual chokepoints. An LAC is an area monitored by one to four Ubisense sensors (readers), while a virtual chokepoint is an area such as an entranceway or corridor, typically monitored by two sensors facing inwards on opposite walls. Tags worn by personnel or attached to vehicles are interrogated while passing into or out of the LAC, or through a virtual chokepoint. S3 ID installed 256 LACs or virtual chokepoints on the D Island complex, using a total of 650 Ubisense sensors, which have been modified by S3 ID to be more rugged for the conditions present on the offshore oil rig, says Doug Woodbridge, the company's director of business and head of sales and marketing. He declines to provide specifics regarding those modifications.

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