Marine Technology Reporter Blogs

Hadeep and the New Hebrides Trench – Part 1

March 4, 2014

HADEEP (Hadal Environment and Educational Program) is a collaborative project based at the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab. The HADEEP 4 expedition was funded by the Total Foundation. This project, entitled “Trench Connection” is supporting this trip. HADEEP 2 to 4 has been a partnership between Oceanlab and NIWA in New Zealand. For the first time, researchers have taken a look at the life that thrives in one of the deepest spots in the ocean. They investigated the New Hebrides Trench, located just West of Vanuatu, and revealed that cusk eels and crustaceans teem more than 7,000m (23,000ft) down. They used cameras fitted on an unmanned lander to film the deep-sea creatures.

Future Offshore Ocean Observatories - Part 1

March 8, 2014

fig WHOIMVCOdiagr Doucette
Offshore Ocean Observatories, are composed of suites of surface and subsea instruments and sensors with long-term power supplies and permanent communications links that can feed data to scientific laboratories in real-time. Motivated by advances in computing, telecom, marine architecture and subsea sensor technology, researchers observe the oceans in real-time, for long periods of time, and sky around all the way to deepwater, including imaging and continuous sensor observation along the whole water column to the sea floor. Ocean observatories are designed to answer questions about how the seas and oceans work, their dynamics and peculiarities.

Cesium Traces to Identify Fish Migration Patterns

February 25, 2014

tuna track
It is widely known that for at least two weeks after Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactors were damaged by a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami on 11 March 2011, large quantities of radioactive material leaked directly from the plants into the Pacific Ocean. A study by scientists from Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station and Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) revealed that Pacific Bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) carried traces of radioactive isotopes from Japanese waters to the waters off California. The research additionally pointed out that cesium traces from Fukushima’s radioactively contaminated water found in fish are potentially a very useful tool to trace the origin and timing of animal movements.

Riserless Light Well Intervention for Deepwater Wells

February 24, 2014

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Riserless Light Well Intervention (RLWI) enables operators to increase the oil and gas recovery rate from subsea oil wells. It allows rapid well access by using smaller DP vessels instead of larger semisub drilling rigs or drillships. RLWI also enables subsea well intervention without having to use a drilling riser package connected to the subsea stack, which is topped by the blowout preventer system. Riserless intervention is a cost-saving alternative to drilling rigs, reducing mobilization time for life-of-well operations including wireline, logging, light perforating, zone isolation, plug setting and removal, and decommissioning. The technology is based on wireline well maintenance, where the cable is routed via a subsea lubricator system into the subsea well.

Satellites to Count Whales

February 19, 2014

New satellite technology is being used to count whales, and estimate their population size. Using Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite imagery, alongside image processing software, researchers were able to automatically detect and count whales breeding in part of the Golfo Nuevo, Peninsula Valdes in Argentina. The new method could revolutionize how whale population size is estimated. Marine mammals are extremely difficult to count on a large scale and traditional methods, such as counting from platforms or land, can be costly and inefficient. “This is a proof of concept study that proves whales can be identified and counted by satellite. Whale populations have always been difficult to assess; traditional means of counting them are localized, expensive and lack accuracy.

U/W Internet Cable Between Brazil and Africa

February 12, 2014

undersea cable map
The system will connect Luanda in Angola, with Fortaleza in Ceará in northern Brazil and the u/w cable with have a capacity to transmit 40 terabits per second, or 40 trillion bits per second, which will greatly speed up trans-Atlantic media, O&G and general business connections. Eventually an extension of the cable will also reach Santos, on the coast of São Paulo and Miami. The initial project will have an investment of US$160 million, with another US$100 million destined to extra connections. This is the essence of the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS), which cable operator Angola Cables plans to install by 2015 or the beginning of 2016 in the region. According to company president Antonio Nunes, this will be the first u/w cable in the southern hemisphere linking Brazil to Africa.

RTM for Improved Salt Imaging

February 11, 2014

NVIDIA GPU oil gas Reverse Time Migration
Reverse time migration (RTM) is a powerful imaging tool. It has the ability to account for rapid spatial variations in the velocity model and to utilize all wavefront information, producing superior images of the most complex structures. This is why RTM is frequently used to interpret salt structures in regions known to have complex salt geometries like the Gulf of Mexico. With the application of recent advancements such as Vector Offset Output and 3D angle gathers, the imaging capability of RTM is enhanced even further. RTM is a pre-stack two-way wave equation depth migration, recognized as being able to produce superior pre-salt images compared to other migration algorithms such as Kirchhoff, control beam migration (CBM) or one-way wave equation migration.

Brazil OSV Market

February 7, 2014

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In the wake of the Subsea Vessel Brazil conference in Rio, Petrobras announced the approval to contract eight support vessels for its offshore activities. These are part of the 3rd Fleet OSV Renewal Plan (Prorefam). This is the 5th round and 4 vessels will be contracted from Bram Offshore, to be build at the Navship shipyard in the state of Santa Catarina, 3 from Starnav, with construction planned for the Detroit shipyard, also in Santa Catarina and 1 from Norskan, which will be built at the STX (Vard) shipyard in Niteroi, across the bridge from the city of Rio, where the Dof and Nordskan build all their Brazilian flagged ships. This is good news for the shipyards involved and for the OSV market in general, as the Brazilian offshore maritime market is heavily dependent on Petrobras orders.

Research Drilling Proposals for the Brazilian Equatorial Margin

February 3, 2014

A NSF-sponsored workshop will be held in the coastal town of Maresias, São Paulo, Brazil, from the 4th to the 6th of February 2014, to discuss, plan and define the conceptual basis for developing an International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Drilling Proposal to investigate the Brazilian Equatorial Margin. b) The opening and expansion of the South Atlantic Ocean. The Brazilian Equatorial Margin (BEM) is a passive, stable margin at equatorial latitudes characterized by continuous sedimentary sequences divided among a series of basins. These basins contain a unique record of regional tectonic, biotic, and climatic events from the end of the early Cretaceous to present.

Schmidt Ocean Istitute Designing New Ultra-Deepwater Research HROV

February 1, 2014

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Accessing to the world’s deepest ocean trenches has always been challenging and these have only been reached sporadically, leaving these areas virtually unexplored. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s (WHOI) Nereus, a proof of concept Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle (HROV), now being used on Schmidt Ocean Institute’s (SOI) Falkor and other research vessels, offers unprecedented access to the deepest regions for scientists, enabling systematic exploration and studies of deep trenches. There are a number of deepsea trenches at hadal depths around the globe worth exploring, highlighting to WHOI and SOI that they would have an exceedingly large area to cover with a single HROV.

Cobalt’s Lontra 1 off Angola taps “Global Scale” reserves

January 28, 2014

Mapa Cobalt Angola x
Cobalt International Energy recently said the drill stem test results at its Lontra 1 pre-salt well off Angola were "exceptional, with excellent quality reservoirs that are better than we had expected". This may be the first major pre-salt find in WA that matches some of the huge pre-salt plays uncorked in Brazil. Drilled to a depth of 4,195 meters (13,843 feet) and penetrating some 75 meters of net pay, Cobalt said that, "while further appraisal drilling will be required to determine the ultimate size of the Lontra field, it is clear that Lontra is a discovery on a global scale”. Lontra is a pre-salt prospect off Angola in Block 20.

Carcará - Another Big Pre-salt Play in Brazil

January 23, 2014

Carcara map
The Carcará oilfield off the Brazilian coast is named for a bird of prey that is liberally known as the Brazilian Eagle, its scientic name is: Polyborus Plancus. Carcará located in Block BM-S-8 is believed to hold one of the thickest reservoirs ever discovered in Brazil's Santos Basin pre-salt cluster, with a reservoir thickness of 471 meters. The play is being developed by a consortium composed of Petrobras (66%), Galp Energy (14%), and Brazilian players QGEP and Barra Energia with (10%) each. Tested flow rates and reservoir conditions at the Carcará discovery are superior to the famous Lula field. The Lula field, which is currently producing about 100,000 bopd, is estimated to hold recoverable reserves of between 5 billion and 8 billion boe.

The Catlin Seaview Survey

January 20, 2014

catlin seaview survey map
The Catlin Seaview Survey is the first comprehensive study of the Great Barrier Reef to document the composition and health of the world’s coral reefs across an unparalleled depth range of 0-100m. The project includes a shallow and deep reef survey and began on the Great Barrier Reef in northeast Australia in 2012. The shallow reef survey involves photographing the reef in full 360 degree panoramic vision on an unprecedented scale using specially developed cameras. These images are analyzed automatically using image recognition software, specially designed by University of Queensland researchers, creating a baseline for scientific analysis from remote locations.

Falkland Islands O&G Exploration

January 17, 2014

falkland islands map
Rockhopper Exploration discovered up to 1.4 billion barrels boe in its Sea Lion prospect in the North Falkland Basin during the spring of 2011. In 2012 disappointment set in with many dry wells and only Borders & Southern Petroleum finding an estimated 190 million barrels of condensates in the South Falkland Basin. In 2013 exploration was basically halted while seimic surveys continued. There were two 3D seismic campaigns in the South Falkland Basin and the start of a third. 2013 also saw FOGL and Desire Petroleum plc merge, which has resulting in a larger company with a budget of $275 million for exploration. The major focus in 2014 will be on the Sea Lion discovery in the North Falkland Basin.

Islas Revillagigedo

January 8, 2014

Also known as the Socorro Islands, they are located 386km (250 miles) southwest of the tip of Baja California (Cabo San Lucas) and over 720km (446 miles) west of Manzanillo, the Revillagigedos are one of three Mexican island groups in the Pacific Ocean. All four islands that make up the Revillagigedos Archipelago are remote, volcanic in origin and offer some of the most unpredictable, wild drift diving in the world. Isla Socorro is the largest of the Revillagigedos islands. Dive operator live aboard Solmar V, one of two live-aboards that go there has been using u/w sensors attached to buoy cables to record the movement of hundreds of…

Multiphase Pumping Technology

January 7, 2014

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Multiphase pump technology allows increased development of remote location, deepwater plays and for fields deemed uneconomical due to low flow pressure. With the ability to handle high gas volumes as well as potentially reducing the risk on the environment, multiphase pumps are being increasingly used for subsea and downhole applications. Selection of multiphase boosting options remains a bit subjective and is frequently influenced by the seller’s informationwhich may mask potential limitations of this emerging technology. Information on multiphase pumping tends to focus on a certain pump type for a specific field application, but does not provide more-generalized criteria for the selection of multiphase boosting solutions from among those available in the market.

Study Implicates Naval Sonar to Changing Whale Behavior

January 5, 2014

A study funded by the United States Navy illustrates how noises from explosives, engines and other industrial activities can directly affect blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) behavior. The largest marine mammal, with most adults over 100 feet long and 30 tons in weight, has been the target of studies like this for years but in this newest experiment, researchers found that sonar-induced disruptions on how whales feed could have previously undocumented impacts on their health. To conduct the experiment, researchers simulated military sonar adn other mid-frequency sounds on tagged blue whales in feeding areas within the Southern California Bight.

Brazil Exploration Review 2013

January 4, 2014

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The auction of Libra pre-salt field, forecast to contain between 8 and 12 billion barrels boe in recoverable reserves, was Brazil's first bidding round in the pre-salt area, and failed to meet the high expectations placed on it by the Brazilian government, yet the government, the ANP (National Oil Regulator) and Petrobras are highly satisfied with the results because they managed to attract important and experienced partners in Shell and Total, along with the high rolling Chinese companies. Despite a nine-month global publicity campaign and predictions of fervent bidding by as many as 40 firms, the license was awarded to the only consortium to register a bid. Another controversial state controlled company PPSA will oversee the contract’s implementation, having both voting and veto rights.

The Prirazlomnaya Rig Details – Part 2

January 3, 2014

The Prirazlomnaya platform was designed for operation in the most hostile climate with sub-zero temperatures and a solid ice cover that remains for nearly six months in the production area, where up to 22 storms take place every year. An average storm may last for 9.5 days with an average wave height of 3.9 meters and the maximum wave height reaching 13+ meters. It is designed to resists ice pressure, sea waves and earthquake magnitudes from 5 to 6 on the Richter scale. Built by Sevmash Production Association, the Prirazlomnaya offshore ice-resistant oil-producing platform (OIRFP) is a key development facility. The platform will ensure well drilling, oil production, storage and offloading.

The Prirazlomnaya Rig Details – Part1

December 27, 2013

Arctic O&G exploration has been under the spotlight for some time now, with environmentalists clamoring for a moratorium on Arctic drilling and O&G production, due to concerns of operational safety and unpreparedness of operators to deal with oil spills in the harsh and icy Arctic environment. This has led Shell and other operators to postpone their Arctic activities in order to reassess their safety measures. Russia however has decided to continue with their Arctic exploration plans, and after some delays, Gazprom has started producing oil from the Prirazlomnoye field. It is the first Russian project for developing the Arctic shelf and launches Gazprom's large-scale activities aimed at creating a large hydrocarbon production center in the region.