Natural gas projects in north-west Australia will soon get a boost from a new submarine cable system connecting Darwin in the Northern Territory and Port Hedland in Western Australia.
Alcatel-Lucent and Nextgen Group plan to build and operate the 2,000 km undersea cable system, which will provide high-speed data and voice communications services for the INPEX Ichthys Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Shell Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) projects located in the Browse Basin.
The new submarine cable is valued at $100 million, according to Nextgen.
The submarine cable will have capacity of 3.2 Terabits per second at the outset but could be upgraded in the future to more than 32 Tbps, according to Alcatel-Lucent.
"The subsea cable will give us a highly reliable and stable high-speed voice and data service which is essential for effective and efficient operations at our future offshore facilities," said Shell Prelude's asset manager, Jim Marshall.
"It means that workers at Shell and INPEX will have an ultra high-speed communications link so they can stay in touch with their friends and families while working at offshore facilities. Our investment will also establish a valuable piece of infrastructure that has the capacity to support the development of future offshore resources in the Browse Basin."
Ichthys Project's managing director, Louis Bon, also celebrated the collaboration between the two natural gas companies. "It means that both of these projects, far north of Port Hedland, will be connected to data centres thousands of kilometres away in Perth."
Sean O'Halloran, president of Alcatel-Lucent, said the announcement highlights strong telecom investment by the Australian resources sector, "where companies are adopting new technologies to improve the safety, efficiency and productivity of their operations, often in remote and challenging environments".