Marine Technology Reporter Blogs

Future ROV Technology - Subsea Wireless Control

August 11, 2014

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Wireless subsea technology is becoming a fundamental part of the oil and gas industry worldwide. Back in 2010, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists and engineers announced testing of an undersea optical communications system that, complemented by acoustics, enabled a virtual revolution in high-speed undersea data collection and transmission. Acoustic techniques were developed, which are now the predominant mode of underwater communications between ships and smaller, autonomous and remote control vehicles. However, acoustic systems, although capable of long-range communication, transmit data at limited speeds and delayed delivery rates due to the relatively slow speed of sound in water.

VENUS in the Salish Sea

August 11, 2014

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The VENUS observatory in the Salish Sea is represented by a series of installations in Saanich Inlet and Strait of Georgia. The Victoria Experimental Network Under the Sea (VENUS) has been in continual operation since February, 2006 and is operated by Ocean Networks Canada at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The cabled instrument arrays are deployed in the coastal waters of southern British Columbia, and the facility provides long-term oceanographic data on physical, chemical, biological, and sediment conditions in Saanich Inlet and in the Strait of Georgia near Vancouver, British Columbia. The data, including images and audio, are processed and made available to researchers and the public through the VENUS website.

Future ROV Technology

August 6, 2014

Hibbard Inshore Hybrid AUV ROV
Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) perform a wide range of tasks in a variety of underwater scenarios ranging from research to offshore oil industry support, military operations and S&R. Technological developments, have greatly enhanced their scope of operation including harsh environment operations, such as deepwater and Arctic ops. As oil operations went to deeper waters, so did ROVs, which became a key asset in subsea operations such as pre-salt development and has also been increasingly substituting divers below 300 meters, although saturation diving is very much alive and will also continue to be an important asset. The ROVs of the future will have increased intelligent autonomous behavior and will use logic driven circuitry for routine tasks like turning valves…

Submarine Rescue Systems

July 30, 2014

The U.S. Navy has the world's most comprehensive rescue system for submarines in distress. It is capable of rendering assistance to submarines down to 2000 feet (609.6 meters), anywhere in the world. This system is unique in that it allows the submariners in distress to board a remote controlled rescue diving recompression system in groups of sixteen crewmembers and be brought up to the surface. The U.S. Phoenix International Holdings, Inc. is contracted for the operation and maintenance of the US Navy’s Submarine Rescue Systems, in conjunction with Navy personnel. Phoenix has the responsibility for carrying out any rescue operation, and maintaining a state of readiness for immediate worldwide deployment on a 24/7 basis.

Other U.S. Navy Work Class ROV’s

July 28, 2014

Deep Drone on Deck MH
Other than the large CURV-21 ROV, the U.S. Navy owns two other smaller ROVs. The Deep Drone is a 4,100 pound ROV that is designed to meet the Navy's mid-water salvage requirements down to a maximum depth of 8,000 feet seawater. The system consists of the vehicle, umbilical cable, motion-compensated handling system, deck hydraulic power unit, generator, operations van and maintenance van. Navigation is accomplished with an ultra-short baseline acoustic tracking system. Two handling systems are available, Sea Horse I for shallow operations (6,000 feet) and Sea Horse II for deeper operations (8,000 feet). As in the CURV-21, the operator can control the Deep Drone and the Magnum in all six degrees of motion with auto-control functions for depth, altitude, and heading.

Pioneer Work Class ROVs (CURV-III & 21) – Part 2

July 24, 2014

Following the famous search and retrieval of the lost hydrogen bomb off Palomares, CURV-I continued its operations with the U.S. Navy, and continued being upgrades by later generations of vehicles designated CURV II, CURV II-B, CURV II-C and finally CURV III. In 1973, CURV-III performed the deepest underwater rescue in history when it rescued two men 1,575 feet (480 m) deep, off the southwest coast of Ireland, who were stranded 76 hours in the submersible Pisces III with just minutes of air remaining. On Wednesday, August 29th, the aft sphere of the submersible, a smaller watertight sphere where the machinery was, had flooded when the hatch was pulled off during recovery operations near the surface. Suddenly the sub was over a ton heavier and sank like a rock.

Pioneer Work Class ROVs (CURV-I) – Part 1

July 21, 2014

ROVs are one of the mainstays of deepwater E&P in the oil and gas industry and extensively used in deepwater scientific research, they are also key equipment in any form of deepwater search & rescue operation, but not many people know the history behind ROV development. In this series we’ll take a look at the historical timeline of ROV development up to the present day and also an outlook to the future. The Cable-controlled Undersea Recovery Vehicle (CURV) was the first operational Work Class ROV, developed in the early 1960's by the former Pasadena Annex of the Naval Ordnance Test Station, one of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific’s (SSC Pacific) parent laboratories. At the time, the U.S.

A Short History of Underwater Labs

June 18, 2014

Conshelf village
In 1957, Project Genesis, led by Dr. George F. Bond, and supported by the US Navy, paved the way for underwater habitat development by proving that humans could overcome the complications of deep diving and spend extended time at depth by saturation diving. Dr. Bond’s early experiments involved exposing rats to increased pressure with various gases, including oxygen, nitrogen and helium. By the early 1960s he was testing effects of saturation on humans. The results of this pioneer research were fundamental to propel the construction of the world’s first underwater human habitat, Conshelf I (Continental Shelf Station One), developed by a team working for Jacques Cousteau.

Geomechanical Modeling

July 17, 2014

During the production phase of a reservoir, natural phenomenon, such as movement of fluids, changes in pressure and stress in and around reservoirs occur. In high-pressure reservoirs, pressure depletion during production is associated with compaction within the reservoir causing stretching or extensional stresses in the overburden and underlying formation. This causes variation in velocities and formation thickness, which can be observed as 4D time shifts between successive vintages. Tracking the movements of fluids due to production, for example, gives valuable information about the depletion of a field, and can indicate areas of bypassed oil or gas.

Future Trends – Automated Drilling

July 15, 2014

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Some interesting trends are developing within the O & G industry, one of which is the trend towards increasingly automated drilling. Since the early stages of onshore and offshore drilling, the act of drilling itself has been undertaken as a hands-on job by specialized workers, along the last decade this has begun to change with the introduction of autonomous computer-controlled drilling operations, also known as drilling automation. Oil and Gas operators are developing technologies which they hope will allow drilling operations to be automated, consequently meeting their safety goal of zero people hurt on the job and also reducing drilling operation costs.

Mission 31 – Living and Working Underwater

July 10, 2014

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Fabien Cousteau’s Mission 31 broke new ground in ocean exploration and also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the monumental legacy left by his grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who is credited with creating the first ocean floor habitats for humans and leading a team of ocean explorers on the first attempt to live and work underwater aboard Conshelf Two. The ambitious 30-day living experiment in the Red Sea succeeded as the first effort in saturation diving, proving that it could be done without suffering any ill effects. Mission 31 broadened the original Cousteau experiment by 1 full day, 30 more feet of saturation and broadcasted each moment on multiple channels exposing the world to the adventure, risk and mystique of what lies beneath.

Cased Hole Completions System Safety – Part 2

July 3, 2014

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The quality of a cementing job is vital to the safety, efficiency and cost effectiveness of deepwater well. Yet, well casings can be made even safer by the addition of a barrier in the annulus between casings. Offshore service providers have developed a variety of ways to create this extra barrier. Baker Hughes has developed its version of a secondary mechanical pressure barrier above the uppermost hydrocarbon zone, designed to prevent any unintended and uncontrolled flow of reservoir fluids to surface in the event of failure of the cement barrier, and also help boost production rates by eliminating flow that would otherwise be lost to the annulus (if positioned in the B-Annulus*). Their solution is an electronically actuated packer with proven zero-extrusion gap seal technology.

Cased Hole Completions System Safety – Part 1

July 1, 2014

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Completion systems are the components necessary to complete a well after it is drilled and prepare it for production. There are a variety of completion options available to oil and gas operators. Cased-hole completion systems, for example, vary from relatively simple single-zone low-pressure/low-temperature (LP/LT) designs to complex high-pressure/high-temperature (HP/HT) applications that are commonly found in deepwater. Cased-hole completion involves running casing or a liner down through the production zone, and cementing it in place. A good cement job is the primary barrier for effective zonal isolation and is the standard industry method to protect the wellbore from unwanted and dangerous influxes of formation fluids, solids and gases.

Polar Onyx PLSV

June 27, 2014

NB Polar Onyx
The Polar Onyx is arguably the most modern PLSV working offshore Brazil. It is a good example of how Petrobras is demanding high-powered PLSV’s and OSV’s in general to tackle the harsh environments found in Brazil’s deepwater plays. The high capacity new-built is designed for operations in harsh conditions and deep waters and is configured with an Ulstein X-bow. It is built to the highest standard in dynamic positioning, DP3 (Operations +). Final outfitting took place in Schiedam in the Netherlands, where Huisman has installed a 275t vertical lay system (VLS) and a deck-mounted carousel with capacity for 2,000t of flexible pipes. Two permanent work-class ROVs delivered by Ceona’s partner ROVOP, which can operate in 3,000m water depth, were also mobilized in Schiedam.

Deepwater Riser Technology

June 24, 2014

bundled hybrid riser
Un-coupled riser systems are increasingly being used in deepwater and ultra-deepwater field developments, where harsh environments predominate. Hybrid Riser Towers (HRTs) are recognized to have significant benefits for deepwater riser applications in terms of flow assurance, thermal performance and robustness of layout. This latter issue is especially significant when a large number of risers are considered. An HRT provides the required flexibility by avoiding a crowded layout and allowing a progressive deployment. The concept is applicable to deepwater and ultra-deepwater, and to spread-moored and turret-moored FPSO installations. The Single Hybrid Risers (SHR) in its Single or Pipe-in-Pipe versions…

Albatern WaveNET - Wave Energy System

June 11, 2014

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Albatern is a company specialized in designing and assembling wave energy generators to produce electricity from the energy industry.WaveNET is AlbaTERN’s wave energy array system. Constructed from multiple SQUID modules, the array can be readily adapted to suit the specifications of the site and the customer’s power requirements. A prototype array comprising 6 modules with a rated capacity of 45kW has been built. Larger arrays (250kW +) can be assembled at the current scale. The unique WaveNET wave energy conversion system is based around a series of smaller interconnected units called Squids. This approach reduces the operational challenges of handling and deploying very large structures while allowing the device to be tailored to the requirements of a particular site.

Ativatec ROV Tools

June 12, 2014

Ativatec is a Brazilian company specialized in subsea technology and robotics engineering. The company was born at the Genesis Incubator at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) in 2005. Today, Ativatec offers subsea services for Petrobras at the Campos Basin. Ativatec has a very good track record in developing new subsea technologies in partnership with government research institutes and universities such as FINEP, FAPERJ, PUC-Rio and Petrobras. Prizes and recognition from Petrobras for the services and products developed for the National Operator along the last 9 years, has earned Ativatec a preferred partner status with Petrobras and the company is recognized as one of the main Brazilian subsea robotic companies in the market.

Autonomous Surface Vehicle’s C-Worker USV

June 9, 2014

C Worker
The C-Worker is an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) designed for offshore services in the O&G industry. The multi-role offshore USV is designed to conduct subsea positioning, surveying and environmental monitoring without the need of a ship on station or seabed anchoring. Autonomous Surface Vehicles Ltd (ASV Ltd) is a UK company and part of Global Fusion, a privately owned international marine services group based in Lafayette, Louisiana, USA. The small robust design incorporates an aluminum self-righting hull that makes the vehicle suitable for harsh ocean environments. At only 5.85 meters in length, a beam of 2.2 meters and a height of 4.75 meter with its mast extended, this USV is a much cheaper and compact option for some offshore jobs that today are done by much larger vessels.

FloWave - Circular Ocean Energy Research Pool

June 6, 2014

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The unique FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility, represents a great asset for reducing risks and refining performance of new marine energy designs to scale before building a first prototype, such as tide or wave energy farms. Its circular shape means waves have no reflections and can come from multiple directions, to mimic stormy seas. FloWave was conceived for cutting edge academic research into wave and tidal current interactions, the FloWave is also an amazing tool for commercial developers to ensure their technologies and projects perform as expected. FloWave is the only research wave pool in the world capable of validating CFD layout, micro-siting and energy yield predictions with physical modeling, before companies commit to investing tens of millions in the project itself.

Advanced Drilling Technology: Mapping-While-Drilling

May 30, 2014

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Oil and Gas drilling teams usually contend with tight schedules for project developments and this may eventually lead to low quality plans and limited risk assessment, which may cause expensive and potentially dangerous drilling problems, such as, stuck pipes, violent kicks, unproductive time and cost overruns. The introduction of Schlumberger’s reservoir mapping-while-drilling service is enabling drillers to make better decisions in short timeframes and avoid costly mistakes. For the operators, the main benefits from the effective well placement may be maximized production, minimized construction and intervention costs. The process of well placements brings together many different disciplines…
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