BP to Build Fiber Optic Network in Gulf

BP America Inc. said Thursday that it plans to construct an 800 mile undersea fiber optic system in the Gulf of Mexico to provide continuous broadband connectivity to the company's offshore oil and gas facilities. The system will allow greater operating flexibility, including the ability to continue producing safely for longer periods when hurricanes enter the Gulf and to return more quickly to production after storms pass. In some cases the project may mean that facilities do not have to be shut-in at all. Currently, hurricane-related shutdowns each year reduce oil and gas deliveries to refineries and power plants, sometimes resulting in higher gasoline and electricity prices, or shortages.

"This $80 million investment will allow early evacuation of our offshore staff whilst keeping critical energy supplies flowing as well as improving our operating efficiency and operability year round," said Kenny Lang, BP Vice President Gulf of Mexico.

"During routine operations, the fiber optic network will allow each of BP's new cutting edge technology centers in Houston to remotely apply high level technical expertise to our offshore producing facilities. The large bandwidth provided by the network will enable staff in the Houston centers to monitor offshore digital operating and safety equipment which will contribute to faster problem resolution for our operations," Lang said.

In the future, the network may make it possible for BP staff onshore to control offshore facilities remotely.

The system will initially link seven of BP's deep water production facilities including Marlin, Horn Mountain, Na Kika, Thunder Horse, Atlantis, Mad Dog and Holstein to the new Advanced Collaborative Environment (ACE) centers in Houston. Each facility will have direct optical connectivity to Houston through two independent routes. It will ensure continued operations, independent of any other facility in the system during hurricane events.

This project is part of BP's overall strategy to ensure that key oil and gas production facilities around the world provide reliable supplies to market at times of greatest need. The Gulf of Mexico network will incorporate an upgrade capability designed to support 64 platforms. Excess bandwidth will be made commercially available for third party deepwater operators.

BP signed a contract with TYCO Telecommunications to construct the undersea fiber optic system. The project is planned to be operational in late 2007.