Powering a Sustainable Future

Technology is Key to Sustainable Energy Development

The industry has called for more innovative solutions to help reduce or eliminate carbon emissions and increase worker safety.

There are several artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation technologies that can help the oil and gas industry produce cleaner barrels with better data collection.

The advancement of communication networks both on- and offshore enable remote operations from anywhere at any time. Instead of sending your best engineers and subject matter experts far offshore — and having to mobilize expensive travel by helicopters, support vessels, and accommodation space — integral personnel can stay onshore to work from a dedicated office space and provide much needed expertise in a more efficient, faster way.

Oceaneering continues to advance its capabilities by developing technologies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions for customers and its own operations. Oceaneering achieves this by developing next-generation remotely operated vehicle technology, dedicated remote operations centers, and even taking a hard look at its own practices. Internally, Oceaneering has committed to setting carbon emission reduction targets and has established an Executive Sustainability Committee to help set standards for the company’s operations around the globe.

ADVANCING DIGITAL AND REMOTE TECHNOLOGIES

Remote operations coupled with advanced autonomous solutions can have a huge impact on how business is conducted, even when that business is taking place offshore.

Oceaneering’s Remote Piloting and Automated Control Technology (RPACT), introduced in 2004 enables full ROV piloting via virtual connection technologies such as vessel-to-vessel radio frequency (RF), satellite/internet, or subsea optical link. Software also supports collaborative control, for example, an onshore pilot flies an ROV while the offshore pilot operates manipulators.

Supplemented with preprogrammed and automated commands, RPACT uses video processing software that analyzes video, determines spatial distances, and recognizes shapes to enable hands-free movement of the ROV. This provides an essential pilot aid while operating the ROV over long-latency communication links.

Oceaneering launched its first dedicated onshore remote operations center (OROC) in 2015. The OROC enables effective completion of offshore operations by providing a remote base for client representatives, additional ROV pilots, and subject matter experts. Operations completed using RPACT and the OROC range from the usual ROV-controlled work, such as the installation of subsea anodes, to operating subsea valves.

APPLICATIONS

Oceaneering’s Liberty E-ROV (Empowered Remotely Operated Vehicle) is an all-in-one deployable and recoverable system with a cage-mounted battery pack. The Liberty is a work-class vehicle that can carry out inspection, maintenance, and repair (IMR), commissioning, and underwater intervention activities.

Because the Liberty does not require a support vessel to stay onsite during operations, a typical IMR campaign in the North Sea could save an estimated 33 MT per day of CO2 by eliminating vessel usage during subsea operations.

A major North Sea operator, on the verge of first oil at its development, contracted Oceaneering in early 2020 to use the Liberty E-ROV system for a complete pipeline seabed-to-platform monitoring operation. The project called for monitoring at depths up to 310 meters several times a day over the course of one to two months. The operator needed to maintain constant monitoring but ruled out using a conventional ROV system deployed from the platform or a vessel.

A dedicated control umbilical provided power and data communications connectivity directly from the platform to the Liberty E-ROV system. This solution was identified as optimal as it eliminated the need to recharge Liberty’s batteries using a vessel and negated risks associated with winter storms in the area pushing the radio buoy out of location.

The Liberty E-ROV system was mobilized from Oceaneering’s site at Forus, Norway, and deployed to the seafloor adjacent to the operator’s platform in the North Sea in February 2020. Monitoring of the riser started immediately and was conducted three to four times daily from March until April 2020. The ROV was piloted using RPACT and all video and images were uploaded to our cloud-based Oceaneering Media Vault.

In total, the Liberty E-ROV completed 822 hours of monitoring spread over 110 top-to-bottom trips conducted across 34 winter days in the North Sea. The vehicle did not need to dock in the subsea garage for changing or data transfer and did not require maintenance.

The monitoring did not detect any issues that would have affected production commencement on the platform. The project provided the operator with assurance that operations were started successfully.

The Liberty had already been field-proven across more traditional ROV operations, but this project scope enabled the vehicle to demonstrate its capability over longer, continuous deployments. It allowed the operator to benefit not only from peace of mind, but also a more economical, efficient, and emissions-friendly approach to ROV monitoring.

ROVS FOR OFFSHORE WIND

Harsh weather conditions and high-current seas have been a consistent issue for offshore oil and gas explorers and now offshore renewables developers are finding the same to be true. Project delays due to weather can be costly not just in time and vessel day rates, but also in carbon emissions from extended work campaigns.

A major offshore wind developer contracted Oceaneering’s Isurus ROV in 2019 to increase operational windows for ROV operations across their European offshore wind farm projects. The developer required an alternative to the traditional ROV systems that either slowed or stopped operations completely during rough sea conditions. By adapting the Isurus body shape to a more hydrodynamic design and equipping the ROV with highly powerful thrusters, the operational capabilities were greatly increased.

After operations started in October 2019, the Isurus system had zero downtime due to breakdown and has increased the developer’s operating window by up to six hours a day. The scopes of work included cable touchdown monitoring, cable installation, monopile pull-ins, and left/built surveys.

ACCELERATING AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE DEVELOPMENT

Advanced subsea resident vehicles help lower carbon emissions by further reducing the need for a support vessel to remain on location while the vehicle carries out work scopes subsea.

Oceaneering’s Freedom Autonomous Underwater Vehicle provides increased efficiency by combining the work class functions of an ROV with the speed, range, and maneuverability of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).

Freedom is supported by a docking station at the seabed and can operate in two modes: remotely piloted via short range, high-bandwidth communication link to provide real-time control — or operated in autonomous mode. Freedom boasts a working range of 200 kilometers, a working depth rating of 6,000 meters, a speed of four knots, and subsea deployments of up to six months.

In January 2020, the Freedom vehicle arrived at our Norwegian site for in-water testing. In June 2020, we began testing the vehicle untethered. In September 2020, Freedom completed the industry’s first fully autonomous subsea docking operation using a third-party developed underwater docking station at our Norwegian facility. Offshore trials began at a nearby sheltered pipeline in late February 2021. Freedom is currently at API Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 and is expected to enter TRL 6 later this year.

As we continue the transition to cleaner and lower emissions energy, it’s important for all players in our sector to examine their operations and identify ways to incorporate technology that improves efficiency, operational uptime and supports the goal of an abundant and resilient energy supply.

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