Marine Technology Reporter Blogs

São Pedro and São Paulo Archipelago Research Station

May 26, 2014

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The São Pedro and São Paulo archipelago (ASPSP) is composed by 15 small islands or rock outcrops, located about 1,000 km off the coast of Rio Grande do Norte and approximately 610 km from the Fernando de Noronha archipelago in Northeast Brazil, and has a total emerged area of is approximately 17,000 square meters. The low altitude and small size made the location a critical point for navigation, because the islands are very difficult to detect with the naked eye at sea level, especially under adverse light and weather conditions which have led to many shipwrecks in the past. The first and most famous of these wrecks was the one that led to the discovery of the archipelago.

Composites X Steel Deepwater Pipes

July 21, 2014

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The development of pipes that can withstand high pressure, heat and corrosion in deepwater locations such as offshore Brazil and the GoM and WA is continuous. For many years steel piping dominated the O&G industry but with pre-salt projects beyond 2,000 meters deep and corrosive enhanced oil recovery techniques widely being used in the industry, pipeline manufacturers have been looking for more flexible and robust materials. France's Technip, which is a world leader in pipe manufacture, uses layered steel with a stainless steel or plastic lining for main offshore pipes. However, British engineering company Magma Global and Dutch company Airborne are pioneering composite pipes made from a fusion of high-end fibers and plastics which are up to 90% lighter than steel pipes and do not corrode.

Potential Environmental Consequences of Deep Sea Mining

May 12, 2014

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In order for deep sea mining to be safely implemented, it is necessary to ensure the protection of sensitive ecosystems and minimize the potential environmental impact of the mining operations. Hydrothermal vents are the primary source for deep sea minerals. The magma below these vents heats the surrounding seawater, which causes metals within the sediment to leach into the water. The subsequent shock of the cold water causes the metals to precipitate and form as solids in the sediment surrounding the vents. Because of these high concentrations, most deep sea mining would occur in the chimneys above the vents. The vents themselves would be preserved undamaged, but the chimneys would be destroyed in order to mine the metals encrusted on them.

Deepwater Technology for Deep Sea Mining

May 11, 2014

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The recent agreement reached on deep sea mining by the Canadian mining company Nautilus Minerals and the government of with Papua New Guinea highlights the importance of deepwater technology developed for the O&G industry. The project will extract ores of copper, gold and other valuable metals from a depth of 1,500m. Nautilus Minerals, has been interested in mining the seabed minerals off Papua New Guinea (PNG) since the 1990s but was locked in a lengthy dispute with the PNG government over the terms of the operation. Under the agreement just reached, PNG will take a 15% stake in the mine by contributing $120m towards the costs of the operation.

Autosub6000 – UK’s Deepwater AUV

May 5, 2014

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With a range up to 1000 km, a maximum operating depth of 6000 m, and a payload capacity of 0.5 m3, Autosub6000 is one of the world’s most capable ultra-deep water AUVs. The Autosub6000 was developed by the Underwater Systems Laboratory at the National Oceanography Center in Southampton, with funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council. Autosub6000 is the latest 6000 m rated version of the Autosub AUV series, which has been used extensively for ocean science during the last 10 years, including work under ice operations in the Arctic and Antarctic. The design of the nose and tail sections, including the navigation and control systems, are substantially inherited from the tried and tested Autosub3.

Pre-salt Production Start for P-58

March 21, 2014

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Petrobras’s P-58 FPSO started operations at Parque das Baleias, off the state of Espírito Santo, on the north sector of the Campos Basin through well 7-BFR-7-ESS, another pre-salt producer, which is showing an excellent productivity. P-58 is part of the North project of Parque das Baleias, which encompasses production from Baleia Franca, Cachalote, Jubarte, Baleia Azul and Baleia Anã plays. P-58 is moored approximately 85 km off Espírito Santo, at a water depth of 1,400 meters. In the upcoming months, 15 production other wells, being 8 pre-salt and 7 post-salt, as well as 9 injection wells will be interconnected to it through 250 km of flexible pipelines and two subsea manifolds.

Compact Subsea Survey Tools - Meridian Ocean Services

March 19, 2014

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As government agencies, research institutions, academia, and a range of industries look for new light-weight and low-cost solutions for subsea survey and inspection tasks, it becomes clear that new companies are entering the market with the goal of providing these specific services. At the same time the industry that manufactures the tools for these tasks, such as ROV’s, AUV’s and sensors and visualization software are also bringing in compact and affordable, yet powerful, products. Using the latest technology applied to inshore and offshore areas, these companies may soon be competing with established brands and in some case they offer services that few companies in the world can offer, creating their own niche.

Hybrid Bit Technology - Smith BIts/SLB

April 30, 2014

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In a Technical Paper from 2013, Slim Hbaieb and Michael Azar of Smith Bits, a Schlumberger Company explained the advantages of an innovative hybrid bit design that had been tested successfully in Brazil’s pre- salt formations. The main advantages were that the hybrid bit mitigated geological and formation uncertainties, and eliminated the need for several trips to replace damaged bits. Normal PDC (polycrystalline diamond compact) bits can drill pre-salt carbonate rocks effectively until the cutters are damaged by problematic chert inclusions. The hybrid bit is capable of similar ROP (rate of penetration) and run lengths as standard PDC and allows the operator to achieve a long run at high ROP when no silicate inclusions are present.

Aquarius Underwater Laboratory

April 27, 2014

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During decades this reef base for underwater observation and research has been fundamental in understanding reef dynamics and is unique in its capability to continuously house teams of scientists to research a variety of subjects related to Marine Biology, Oceanography and other fields of study. NOAA’s Aquarius Reef Base is an underwater habitat located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, adjacent to Conch Reef. It is one of the few underwater research facilities in the world dedicated exclusively to scientific research. Aquarius is owned by the NOAA and operated by the University of North Carolina–Wilmington until 2013 when Florida International University (FIU) took over operations.

Hadal Ecosystem Expedition Takes Off

April 24, 2014

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An international team of researchers is using the unique deepwater Hybrid ROV Nereus, and other advanced technology to explore life in the depths of the Kermadec Trench, which runs northeast from the North Island of New Zealand. The 40-day expedition, which began on April 12th, kicks off an ambitious three-year collaborative effort funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The goal of the project, known as Hadal Ecosystem Studies (HADES), is to conduct the first-ever systematic study of life in ocean trenches, comparing it to the neighboring abyssal plain at depths between 3,000 and 6,000 meters. Due to the extreme pressures of these deep-sea environments and the technical challenges involved in reaching them…

Brazil Coastal Monitoring

April 21, 2014

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Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coast that is 7,491 km (4,655 mi) long. Offshore, numerous islands and archipelagos form part of Brazilian territory, such as Fernando de Noronha, Rocas Atoll, Abrolhos, Saint Peter and Paul Rocks, and Trindade and Martim Vaz Islands. Yet Brazil has no Coast Guard, the coast being patrolled by the Brazilian Navy, which does not have a mandate to make arrests, but which does keep in check illegal fishing. Costal policing would theoretically be done by the Federal Police. However, the reality is that they do not have anything near enough assets to patrol such a large coast. In terms of environmental monitoring…

Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials in the O&G industry

March 16, 2014

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Nuvia is one of the leading provider of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) management services in the UK. According to the U.S. Geologists have recognized their presence since the early 1930s and use their presence as a method for finding petroleum systems. Much of the petroleum in the earth's crust was created at the site of ancients seas by the decay of sea life. As a result, petroleum deposits often occur in aquifers containing brine (salt water). Radionuclides, along with other minerals that are dissolved in the brine, precipitate (separate and settle) out forming various wastes at the surface, such as mineneral scales inside drilling and production pipe, sludges, contaminated equipment or components and produced waters.

Ocearch – Global Great White Shark Tagging

March 10, 2014

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Hydraulic platform used to tag the sharks safely. OCEARCH is a global non-profit organization specializing on research of Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) and other large predators, enabling leading researchers and institutions to generate previously unattainable data on the movement, biology and health of sharks to protect their future while enhancing public safety and education. OCEARCH is also a leader in open source research, sharing data in near real-time for free through the Global Shark Tracker, enabling researchers, students and the public to learn more about the Great White Sharks's habits and dynamics. Over 50 researchers from more than 20 institutions have collaborated with OCEARCH to date with over three dozen research papers in process or completed.

AUVs Take Center Stage

April 16, 2014

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For those of you who have NOT had access to electronic media for the past week (a small number, I am sure, but I’m covering all basis here) the subsea industry – specifically the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) market … and even more specifically Bluefin Robotics – have taken center stage globally as the hunt for the remains of missing Malaysian Air flight 370 continues in earnest. I turn on my news browser in the morning and I’m met with a Bluefin AUV; I run on the treadmill at the gym and on the TV screen see the Bluefin AUV. While all of this attention is presumably good for the company and the industry, it serves to highlight too the incredible work being done every day by professionals in the subsea industry…

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

April 14, 2014

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The GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel is one of the world’s leading institutes in the field of marine sciences. The institute investigates the chemical, physical, biological and geological processes of the seafloor, oceans and ocean margins and their interactions with the atmosphere. With this broad spectrum GEOMAR is unique in Germany. Additionally, the institute has successfully bridged the gap between basic and applied science in a number of research areas. The institute specializes in the interdisciplinary investigation of marine sciences, from sea floor geology to marine meteorology, with research efforts being conducted worldwide in all oceans and seas.

Deepwater Pipe IMR with AS Connector

April 11, 2014

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AS Connector was founded in Bergen, Norway in 2000 to provided dedicated services and equipment for deepwater pipeline inspection. In the last 13 years the company has built up a proven track record in pipeline IMR, through the use of innovative technology solutions. It has been doing extensive pipeline work with Petrobras in Brazil since 2002, including comprehensive deepwater pipeline repair systems, installation, supply of deepwater rider protection, correction of pipeline freespans, using in-house developed tools and equipment. One of their innovative equipment is a remote riser cleaning and inspection tool, the Riser Sovereign. This equipment was custom developed for Petrobras to clean and verify flex pipe integrity. The tool is self-propelled and operated similarly to a ROV.

Bluefin-21 AUV

April 4, 2014

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Bluefin Robotics’ Bluefin-21 is a highly modular AUV able to carry multiple sensors and comprehensive payloads, while at the same time boasting a high-energy capacity that enables extended operations even at the greatest depths. The Bluefin-21 was designed to operate from various ships of opportunity worldwide and has a software package that is flexible, robust, customizable and user-friendly, while also having advanced autonomy and behaviors. Bluefin’s next generation behavior control system provides a highly flexible system for accomplishing the goals specified in a mission plan. This behavior control facilitates dynamic insertion, removal, and modification of mission elements during execution. This is a vital capability in the often uncertain and noisy environments that AUVs face.

UN Bans Japan from Antarctic Whaling

March 31, 2014

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The UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the Japanese government must halt its whaling program in the Antarctic. It finally agreed with Australia, which had presented the case in May 2010. Australia’s case claimed that the Japanese whaling program was not for scientific research as claimed by Tokyo, arguing that the program was commercial whaling in disguise. A score of other countries have condemned Japan for the practice, yet it took 4 years for UN’s ICJ to pass its verdict. The court's decision is considered legally binding. Reading out the verdict, Presiding Judge Peter Tomka said the court had decided, by 12 votes to four, that Japan should withdraw all permits and licenses for whaling in the Antarctic and refrain from issuing any new ones.

Corals track strongest Indian Ocean Current

March 26, 2014

Korallenstock Helmut Schuhmacher
Researchers used corals as temperature archives. Natural variations in the warming and cooling cycles of the Agulhas current core region have been revealed from Madagascar corals. A new study, led by The University of Western Australia and with contribution by Professor Christian Dullo from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, has been published in Nature Scientific Reports. The Agulhas Current, which flows down the east coast of Africa, is the strongest western boundary current in the Southern Hemisphere. Changes in its strength and the heat budget it transports are of interest, both on regional and global scales. The current is also the gateway for warm and salty Indian Ocean water that slowly goes up the Atlantic on its way to the far northern Gulf Stream.

25th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

March 24, 2014

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On March 24, 1989 the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil across 1,300 miles of coastline. The tankers grounding and subsequent oil spill lead to one of the most thorough examinations of the effects of oil on the environment. While the vast majority of the spill area now appears to have recovered, pockets of crude oil remain in some locations, and there is evidence that not all resources affected by the spill have recovered to the previous state. No one anticipated any unusual problems as the Exxon Valdez left the Alyeska Pipeline Terminal at 9:12 p.m., Alaska Standard Time, on March 23,1989.