Set up in 1984, GAIL (India) Limited is a prominent natural gas corporation in India and Asia. In 2001, GAIL ventured into the telecom industry by expanding its optical fibre cable (OFC) network. GAIL is presently operating under IP-1 registration. It currently operates as GAILTEL in over 175 locations in India. The company also has a global presence and possesses India’s largest OFC network in the oil and gas industry.
GAIL has laid OFC within its right of use (RoU), which was acquired for laying and operating natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) pipelines under the Petroleum & Minerals Pipeline Act, 1962, to ensure safe and reliable 24×7 operations of its pipelines. The primary objective is to set up and maintain a reliable communication system that can effectively monitor, control and safeguard essential pipeline services. This system includes various components such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), CCTV monitoring, leak detection, pipeline intrusion detection systems (PIDS) and internal communication.
GAILTEL is responsible for maintaining the OFC infrastructure along GAIL’s cross-country trunk natural gas and LPG pipeline networks. Currently, GAIL has an OFC network stretching over 12,800 km with a capacity of 10/2.5 Gbps for captive consumption and employs telecommunications systems for efficient pipeline operations pipeline operations. These systems are:
- SCADA: It performs real-time 24×7 monitoring and control of natural gas and LPG pipelines from various locations along the pipeline network. The remote terminal units at pipeline sites monitor natural gas/LPG-related data in real time. The data pertains to pressure, temperature and gas composition. These units also collect data from field instruments and further transmit it to the SCADA system for monitoring and control of field devices.
- CCTV cameras: They are installed to provide continuous surveillance of all pipeline installations and plant premises. PAN-India OFC-based telecom network and systems are monitored and controlled 24×7 from the network operation and control centre (NOCC) in Noida. The NOCC Noida is responsible for monitoring and managing all telecom systems (nodes) installed along pipeline installations that transmit captive service traffic such as SCADA data, voice communication, emails, SAP, and other essential services.
- Centralised APPS system: It processes real-time SCADA data to provide functionalities such as leak detection, line-pack (inventory) monitoring, real-time mapping of pipeline parameters (such as pressure and flow), scraper tracking, composition tracking and offline predictive analysis, as per statutory regulations.
- PIDS: It is an analytical tool for detecting physical incursions within the RoU of pipelines for asset safety.
Additionally, GAILTEL leases spare dark fibre from unused captive services, and co-location infrastructure to third-party telecom service providers on a long-term (15-year) and short-term (annual) basis under IP-I registration. The leasing and selling of dark fibre, towers and duct space is in accordance with Section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. Based on availability and practicality, GAILTEL offers dark fibre pairs and co-location facilities, complete with 19-inch rack space (indoor/ outdoor) on GAIL premises. Further, it provides raw power access based on site availability as well as a secure environment for telecom infrastructure.
First is excavation work being conducted without notifying or involving all relevant parties. Additionally, road expansion causes significant damage to fibre infrastructure. Further, obtaining permissions can be a costly and time-consuming process. Finally, there is a need for a nodal agency to oversee the functioning and maintenance of networks.
The way forward
Going forward, GAIL will continue constructing and running secure OFC networks alongside its gas pipelines. Over the next three years, an additional 4,200 km of OFC will be added to states including Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Assam and Karnataka. Moreover, GAIL aims to leverage its OFC infrastructure for profitable ventures in the telecom sector. Lastly, GAIL is exploring partnerships with interested service providers for long-term sharing of duct and fibre in new and upcoming pipelines.
Based on a presentation by Ashutosh Shukla, Chief Manager (GAILTEL), GAIL, at a tele.net conference on “OFC Networks in India”