Theme news

Latest news: robotics in oil and gas 

Credit: Bert van Dijk/Getty images.

Powered by

23 April 2023

DeepOcean deploys autonomous inspection drone for offshore ops 

Ocean services provider DeepOcean has deployed its first autonomous inspection drone (AID) designed for inspecting offshore wind farms and oil and gas assets. 

Mobilised on board the Edda Fauna subsea Inspection, Maintenance and Repair and Remotely Operated Vehicle support vessel, the AID will undergo offshore trials in the coming months. 

The vessel is currently on a long-term charter with DeepOcean. 

DeepOcean plans to trial the AID, which can operate in water depths down to 3,000m, under one of its annual inspection campaigns on the Norwegian continental shelf, for an undisclosed operator. 

DeepOcean technology manager Craig Cameron said: “A rapidly growing amount of subsea infrastructure is placed on the seabed within both the offshore renewables and oil and gas industries. This equipment needs to be inspected regularly. 

“We have developed the AID to increase efficiency and accuracy when collecting inspection data. It has the potential to substantially reduce the cost, time and environmental footprint that is normally associated with subsea inspection work.” 

Developed by DeepOcean in a partnership with Argus Remote systems and Vaarst, the AID project is backed by funding from AkerBP. 

Remota AS, a joint venture between DeepOcean, Solstad Offshore and Østensjø Group, is responsible for undertaking offshore operations through digitalized control systems from onshore. 

The AID is based on Argus Remote Systems’ Rover MK2 ROV, and Argus is responsible for the AID platform and navigation algorithm. 

Vaarst is responsible for the machine vision camera Subslam 2x for autonomous navigation and data collection while DeepOcean in charge of the digital twin platform, mission planner software, and live view of the AID in operation. 

Cameron said: “The AID can perform pre-programmed inspections of all subsea assets. This means that significant value can be created for operators of offshore energy assets when the same inspection scope can be repeated year on year.” 

24 April 2023

Equinor, Norway’s Avinor to deploy drones for North Sea rigs inspection 

Equinor is working with Norwegian airport regulator Avinor to deploy drones to inspect oil and gas rigs in the North Sea, reported Bloomberg News. 

Equinor technology, digital and innovation executive vice-president Hege Skryseth was cited as saying that by establishing an autonomous air traffic management system, Norway’s coast will be an easier environment in which to use drones. Equinor expects thousands of flights between installations in the coming years. 

The Norwegian oil company is also considering using underwater drones, which are scheduled to undergo a trial run in May 2023. 

Equinor air transport adviser Alexander Blokhus said that the process for approving flights needs to be updated as vehicles become more commonplace. 

By working with Avinor, Equinor expects the flight approval times to be reduced to 30 minutes. 

Blokhus said that between ten and 15 types of drones, capable of carrying loads of a tonne or more, could be in use for offshore operations. 

“When we come to realise this, it is going to be a very important part of our business going forward,” Skryseth said. “When it comes to drones, I think we are only at the beginning.” 

In addition, Equinor is considering the use of robots to address jobs that are especially dangerous, far away or tedious. 

Equinor robotics and drones head Svein Ivar Sagatun said that robots are being tested both on and offshore. These robots feature thermal cameras for detecting gas leaks, plus video and audio recording equipment. 

3 November 2022

Unidentified drone sightings increase security concerns on offshore facilities 

Recent developments in imaging and sensing technologies allow for the use of drones in various contexts. They are frequently used for critical infrastructure inspection and predictive maintenance. 

A single drone could gather more data and more precise information than several cameras positioned all over a particular area. The use of drones by businesses can provide complete awareness when combined with data from stationary cameras. For remote monitoring and surveillance, drones are primarily used in the oil and gas sector, including infrastructure, equipment, tankers and trucks and other assets. 

According to GlobalData research, drones can provide a 360-degree view for monitoring field operations. In addition, they can offer encroachment detection and monitor the development of facilities under construction. Oil and gas companies can inspect unmanned production platforms using drones and remote monitoring. 

Drones are particularly useful in industrial accidents or natural disasters, and oil spills and fire incidents can also be mapped using real-time drone imagery and video analytics. However, growing tensions across the European oil and gas industry means that drones, and other advanced technologies, could be deployed in efforts to continue this conflict. 

Despite this potential, the increase in drone usage has posed a number of new challenges for oil and gas companies. Operator companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) recently issued warnings about several sightings of unidentified drones/aircraft near offshore installations. 

The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority urged oil companies and vessel owners to exercise greater caution after receiving numerous reports of unidentified drones flying near oil and gas installations off the coast of Norway. 

The alert was issued after the oil and gas company Equinor revealed last month that it had alerted authorities to sightings of drones of unknown origin flying close to some of its platforms.