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Value of ROV Data Extends to Decommissioning Strategy

Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are used by the offshore oil and gas industry to monitor the integrity of subsea infrastructure and, in doing so, collect terabytes of video and in-situ physical data from inaccessible regions and poorly understood marine environments. The complete paper describes the potential global scientific value of video and other data collected by ROVs.

ROVs and the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry

Nearly one-third of global production of oil and gas is sourced offshore. Tens of thousands of offshore wells have been drilled, and more than 900 large-scale offshore oil and gas platforms have been installed. The offshore industry relies on underwater observation, control, and intervention, tasks performed increasingly by ROVs; over 700 were in operation globally at the time the paper was written. The advancement of ROV technology for the industry was prompted in the 1970s by developments extending into water depths beyond the capabilities of divers, and by the desire to reduce reliance on diving operations.

Modern ROVs fall into two main classes: work class and observation class. A work-class ROV is car-sized, usually cuboidal, with a buoyant upper part containing power equipment, thrusters, manipulators, and cameras. An umbilical connection to the surface vessel provides electrical and fiber-optic connections that allow control and data transfer. Observation-class ROVs are smaller—sometimes briefcase-sized—with limited power and manipulation capabilities, and are used primarily for inspection purposes. For observation missions that can be conducted without real-time intervention, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are increasingly popular. These are generally torpedo-shaped, with higher hydrodynamic stability than ROVs, and can offer a similar image-gathering platform.

Oil and gas projects and other ocean-based industries such as offshore wind use ROVs at multiple stages in a project’s life. Surveys of the region before installation or construction are conducted using ROVs or AUVs to identify the bathymetry and substrate conditions for hazard assessments and to provide parameters for engineering design. Drilling activities commonly involve ROV monitoring at the seabed level, and, when the production facilities are installed, ROVs are used to perform observation of all subsea activities. During operation of a project, ROVs are used for inspection and intervention. The manipulators operate valves and interchange components, and, if required, can undertake cutting. Inspections include visual surveys as well as checking of anode electropotentials and clearance of marine fouling. Inspections commonly are undertaken annually but can be more or less frequent depending on risk level and maintenance requirements. In total, the ocean around a typical oil and gas development may be visited dozens of times by ROVs during the project’s life.

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Judy Feder, contains highlights of paper OTC 28312, “Understanding the Global Scientific Value of Industry ROV Data To Quantify Marine Ecology and Guide Offshore Decommissioning Strategies,” by D.L. McLean, University of Western Australia; P. Macreadie, Deakin University; D.J. White, University of Southampton and University of Western Australia; P.G. Thomson, University of Western Australia; A. Fowler, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries; A.R. Gates, National Oceanography Centre, UK; M. Benfield, Louisiana State University; T. Horton, National Oceanography Centre; D. Skropeta, University of Wollongong; T. Bond, University of Western Australia; D.J. Booth, University of Technology, Australia; E. Techera, C. Pattiaratchi, and S.P. Collin, University of Western Australia; D.O.B. Jones, National Oceanography Centre; L. Smith, Woodside Energy; and J.C. Partridge, University of Western Australia, prepared for the 2018 Offshore Technology Conference Asia, 20–23 March, Kuala Lumpur. The paper has not been peer reviewed. Copyright 2018 Offshore Technology Conference. Reproduced by permission.
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Value of ROV Data Extends to Decommissioning Strategy

01 December 2019

Volume: 71 | Issue: 12

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