Jorge Villarreal

Taking Advantage of Satellite Communication

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 12:52

As the Mexican oil and gas industry and its most prominent operators traverse the current oil price environment, the need for projects and sites to organize and consolidate under a coordinated exploration and production strategy becomes more urgent by the day. The effective integration of daily operations becomes impossible without adequate communication resources. The remote worksites that characterize both the onshore and offshore landscapes of the Mexican oil and gas industry can make these resources either prohibitively expensive or decidedly unreliable. An erroneous choice in this regard has consequences that go beyond an inability to integrate. Communications failures in any minutely planned exploration or production activity can not only represent an unacceptable security risk but also easily lead to downtime that can quickly become financially untenable.

The satellite communications technology provided by Elara Comunicaciones allows customers to drastically reduce costs, an advantage that cannot be overlooked in the current environment. For more than a decade, the company has operated an internationally high-ranking teleport in Mexico that provides telecommunications coverage throughout Latin America in a concerted operative effort with various satellites and ground-level infrastructure.

“Year on year, we have achieved greater efficiency and more cost-effectiveness. Satellite technology is becoming an attractive solution, especially in light of the current environment,” says Jorge Villarreal, CEO of Elara. He promotes satellite technology as an efficient option for operators due to its remarkable development in recent years, “Satellite communications technology as a whole has been evolving tremendously over the last few years, meaning that we have been able to provide greater efficiency and higher bandwidth to the customer at a much more competitive price.”

Elara has provided, and continues to provide, important communications and networking services for Mexican wells and platforms. Its oil and gas systems implement voice and data communications over Internet Protocol (IP) and also access to File Transfer Protocol (FTP), among other services backed by its private networks connected to its teleport. Villarreal highlights the technological range of these systems, “We can deliver a seamless integration between the satellite and the rest of the technology, and we connect our interoperable systems with a range of technologies such as fiber optic and mobile networks.” A sterling example of Elara’s technological capabilities is the vital role that it plays in enabling mobile communication in Mexican vessels for offshore operations.

Although Elara has focused its oil and gas operations on both PEMEX and its contractors, Mexico’s new regulatory environment has created a spectrum of new opportunities due to its nature as both a world class service provider and also an insightful local player knowledgeable of conditions exclusive to the Mexican market. As Villareal points out, this new regulatory environment is not limited to the provisions of the Energy Reform, as the Telecommunications Reform has allowed Elara, as a relatively small company, to move quickly in taking advantage of opportunities. Despite these new opportunities created by an increasingly multi-client environment, Villareal is also interested in the role the company wishes to play in PEMEX’s modernization. “We can be an invaluable asset in optimizing these networks and ensuring their more efficient operations. Therefore, as PEMEX’s landscape begins to change dramatically, we can provide it with the opportunity to convert itself into a much more efficient company.”

The attractiveness of satellite technology as a costeffective option for operators seeking further integration and coordination in the pursuit of decisively more efficient operations will only increase in the coming years, as Villareal explains. “By 2017 we anticipate a major change in the satellite services that are available, and eventually the goal is to utilize more powerful satellites that can transmit higher MB to the customer. As a result, the cost per MB will drop dramatically, by up to 50% in some instances, so eventually satellite connectivity will be a much more attractive option in terms of cost of bandwidth,” he boasts. As these scenarios of technological development unfold, Elara’s position and expertise as a communication services provider to the Mexican oil and gas industry will continue to broaden, a position currently described by Villareal in conclusive terms. “As Elara, we have been a leader in the sector in Latin America, meaning that many service providers approach us as a platform to integrate their solutions.”