Aker BP Plans To Use DeepOcean-Operated Unmanned Surface Vessel

The USV will be equipped with a remotely operated vehicle that is capable of operating in water up to 1500 m deep and tools to perform subsea operations.

Source: DeepOcean

Ocean services provider DeepOcean and Aker BP have agreed to pioneer the use of an unmanned surface vessel (USV) for subsea inspection, maintenance, and repair (IMR) and survey work.

The first USV is planned to be ready for offshore operations in 2025, when it will go on an 8-year charter agreement with DeepOcean from specialist provider USV.

Aker BP and DeepOcean already cooperate under a frame agreement for subsea IMR and survey work, and Aker BP has contributed to the development of the USV. The two companies share a long-term ambition to move 30% of IMR work from traditional vessels to USVs.

“We have collaborated with DeepOcean for many years on development of remotely controlled subsea operations, and unmanned operations is a natural next step of this development,” said Torbjørg Opedal, vice president of subsea at Aker BP. “Our technology strategy is rooted in a desire to reduce both emissions and costs. This is an agenda that DeepOcean shares.”

Aker BP estimates that using USVs can reduce carbon dioxide emissions more than 90% compared with conventional offshore vessels when conducting subsea IMR operations.

The USV will be 24 m long and 7.5 m wide. It will be remotely controlled from shore but will have many autonomous features to ensure safety and integrity of the spread. It can operate in severe weather conditions. During operations, both the USV vessel crew and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operators will be co-located in the same remote operating center.

“Aker BP constantly encourages and challenges the supplier industry to develop solutions that can reduce the cost and environmental footprint that is normally associated with offshore operations,” said Øyvind Mikaelsen, CEO of DeepOcean. “More importantly, they work in partnership with us to realize the solutions. Their support underlines the attractiveness of unmanned and remotely operated vessel technologies, which will benefit both Aker BP and DeepOcean.”

To increase the USV’s workable weather window, it will be equipped with a newly developed launch and recovery system that allows for work class ROVs to be operated from relatively small vessels, such as the USV.

The USV will be equipped with a work ROV that is capable of operating down to 1500 m water depth, plus tools to perform subsea operations. The USV will be capable of handling most subsea inspection work and survey work and a significant part of subsea intervention tasks.

“Once the USV is constructed, tested and ready for offshore operations, Aker BP looks forward to utilizing it on our subsea fields,” said Jarle Marius Solland, Aker BP’s operations manager for subsea execution and survey. “It is a smart solution that enables us to deploy well-known subsea technologies but without bringing a large vessel or an unnecessary amount of personnel offshore.”

The USV will be equipped with a hybrid diesel/electric propulsion system and a battery package that allows it to operate offshore for up to 30 days without charging or refueling.