Comms for China's pipeline lifeline

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A Hytera-provided radio communications system is helping to keep the world’s longest gas pipeline running smoothly.

Australia is no stranger to oil, gas and water pipelines running through inhospitable terrain; we have some of the longest and remotest pipelines in the world. Providing reliable communications along such pipelines is always a challenge, so spare a thought for the engineers who had to design a radio system to cover the world’s longest pipeline, the 10,000-kilometre-long China-Asia Gas Pipeline.

The China-Asia Gas Pipeline runs from the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, through central Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan, and then into China. Each year around 300 billion cubic metres of natural gas is transferred to China, equal to half the country’s domestic natural gas production in 2007. More than US$7 billion was invested by the China National Petroleum Corporation to construct the pipeline, which has important strategic significance for the Chinese Government and for the country’s economic development.

Safe solution

In order to ensure the project ran efficiently, a comprehensive technology solution was needed to cover many aspects of the pipeline’s operation, including:

  • GSM system
  • Video monitor system
  • Trunked radio system
  • Comprehensive dispatching and management functions

The detailed project requirements included:

  • Coverage greater than 95%, and a one-time call termination rate greater than 99%
  • Interconnection between the trunked radio system and PSTN/PABX
  • Ability to use conventional radios with the trunk system
  • Taking future expansion into account with readiness to upgrade into the digital era
  • Comprehensive engineering capability
  • Data applications — as well as basic voice dispatching, SMS and status message functions were also needed

Hytera took part in the project as subcontractor of the trunked radio system provider. After analysing the technical requirements, Hytera designed the specific solution, which included:

  • 1 control centre
  • 7 base stations
  • 3 TS-8600 vehicle-mounted mini-trunk systems
  • 40 RD98X repeaters
  • 180 portable radios
  • System management for terminals and dispatchers

For safety reasons, explosion-proof IIC class radios with an output power lower than 1 W are a necessity when working around a gas pipeline.

Complete system

The system Hytera provided included IP-over-satellite capabilities to provide communication between the mini-trunk vehicle and fixed trunk systems. Hytera also conducted site planning and product performance assurance activities to achieve the necessary one-time call access requirements.

As far as the radios are concerned, Hytera enlarged coverage by adjusting one RD98XM to repeater mode under every base station. The DMR RD98XM supports analog while leaving open the option for future upgrades to digital. The company also connected the trunked radio system to the PSTN/PABX network using two-time dial-up.

In addition to providing the equipment, Hytera assisted the customer with system installation and commissioning, tower purchase (including installation and frequency applications) and tailored solutions such as a specific-size MPT base station.

“Hytera understood what we do, and helped us extensively,” said Eric Liu, Project Manager, China National Petroleum Corporation. “It didn’t matter what documentation was required, what technical communication was needed or what delivery required supporting, Hytera performed as an experienced international company. We were so happy to cooperate with Hytera, and we hope we will continue to work with them in the next stage of the gas pipeline project.”

Image credit: ©, Shamil Zhumatov

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