Advancements in subsea robotics for ensuring security of seabed critical infrastructure: insights into the Hydrone-R, Njord, and Flatfish Deepwater Pilot, Brazil, projects
Back in 2016 Saipem conceived a platform of subsea robots with the aim of changing the approach to IRM operations, from conventional vessel-based activities, using ROVs and AUVs, to a revolutionary fleet of drones, here called UIDs (Underwater Intervention/Inspection Drones), leveraging the latest robotics and AI technologies.
Cost savings, cleaner and less risky operations, coupled with added value in terms of quality and frequency of gathered data were all together the main objectives supporting such vision, which has then proven to have several points of contacts with Equinor’s UID plan and other Operators’ R&D investments, both targeting unmanned inspection and intervention at subsea fields.
This communality of intents has led, after several years of hard work, to the achievement of two major subsea milestones, both in 2023: 1) the commencement of Hydrone-R operations at Njord, the first deployment of a resident intervention UID, 2) the execution of the Flatfish deepwater pilot project offshore Brazil, the first deepwater inspections of flowline, manifolds and risers by means of an autonomous drone.
This presentation aims at sharing with the UDT community the main achievements and lessons learnt from these two projects, which entailed the mobilization of unique equipment by a well-trained and multi-skilled group of professionals who coordinated the installation, commissioning and first operations of Hydrone-R and Flatfish UIDs. Insights from the next-years roadmap will also be shared, aiming at accelerating technology adoption thus allowing energy operators to fully benefit of such innovative solutions.