Bergen, Norway 11 – 13 June, 2019

The 2018 UTF Award Winner

A project which will help to reduce costs by 80% and also reduce carbon emissions has won the 2018 annual Underwater Technology Foundation (UTF) Subsea Award.

The UTF Subsea Award is designed to recognize the many outstanding achievements within the subsea industry. The 2018 award was presented at the Underwater Technology Conference annual dinner, held in Bergen. It was presented to Kaj-Ove Skartun, Leading Subsea Engineer at Equinor, and Arve Iversen, ROV Operations Manager, Oceaneering, as leaders and representatives of the E-ROV project.

The E-ROV concept is a battery-powered electric work class ROV which can be piloted from shore, via a communication buoy, without the support of a surface vessel. The concept was driven by Kaj-Ove Skartun as a way to reduce IMR costs and also results in the reduction of carbon emissions – reducing 100 days vessel time is equivalent to taking 7500 petrol cars off the road, says Skartun.

Oceaneering was awarded a contract from Equinor in 2017, to prove the concept, on a tight budget and in a short time-frame.

The Empowered (E) Remotely Operated vehicle (E-ROV) system includes: a subsea ROV garage with a 100-kWh battery pack, powering an Oceaneering eNovus ROV and advanced communication system, enabling efficient data transfer and communication via a 4G LTE network through a surface buoy. The system includes Oceaneering’s Remote Piloting and Automated Control Technology (RPACT), which enables full ROV piloting via vessel-to-vessel radio frequency (RF), satellite, fiber, 4G LTE network etc., supplemented with pre-programmed and automated commands.

Development, manufacturing, and pool testing were completed in early 2017, at Oceaneering’s facilities in Stavanger, Norway, and an offshore mobilization test was completed in June 2017, at the Troll field in the Norwegian North Sea. After the successful pilot at Troll, the E-ROV was put to work at Equinor’s Tune field, also in the Norwegian North Sea, assisting the drilling-rig Deepsea Atlantic during tophole drilling. The E-ROV was mobilized at Tune for one month, successfully completing the eight days’ scope of work.

“We are pleased to award this years’ UTF Subsea Award,” said Bjørn Søgård, Segment Director, Business Development, Subsea and Floaters at DNV GL, who led the UTF Subsea Award Jury and presented the award. “This project shows the benefits of collaboration in the industry, innovation, increased efficiency, improved HSE and reduced carbon emissions and is a technology that is now demonstrated and has global potential.”

Kaj-Ove Skartun said: “This is an important technology for many reasons; environmentally, because it bring down the carbon footprint, taking away the surface vessel; but also because for every operation we can utilise this E-ROV we can reduce costs by 80%. It is not only a big step, it is a giant leap, it is a game-changer for the industry. It’s doing the same work as a big ROV system today, which has to be supported by an ROV support vessel. And it only takes four hours to re-charge.”

The system offers Equinor more flexibility because, instead of having an ROV vessel wait on standby, it can be left in situ, then activated when it is needed, while the ROV vessel can go away and do other work. This means, for example, a system could be placed near a subsea drill centre close to when drilling is due to complete, so that work can start straight away on well commissioning, when the rig moves away. It could also be used for periodic subsea structural inspection work, without having to have a vessel on site, also helping to reduce schedule impact.

With the increasing presence of a broadband 4G network globally, and potentially 5G coverage in the near future, the E-ROV and resident ROV offerings are gaining support to be remote-controlled from onshore.

Arve Iversen said: “Kaj-Ove Skartun had a vision for this. The challenge was, one, a limited budget and, two, it was a very fast track project, at just six months, so we had to take existing Oceaneering systems that we had to mix together to create what they wanted. We had to modify a lot and come up with new things, within the budget and time-frame, which many thought would be impossible, but failure was not an option.” Oceaneering used a standard eNovus ROV which performed, on the second deployment, without failure, for a full month. «Now the concept is proven there is momentum to refine the concept and there is room to reduce cost, with better batteries, for example.”

Equinor is expected to award a three-year contract for an E-ROV system by the end of June. “We think we will have this system in use all of the time,” says Skartun.

The 2018 Subsea Award is the fourth UTF Subsea Award. The 2017 award went to those behind the Åsgard Subsea Compressor, while the 2016 award went to the OneSubsea Multiphase Compressor team. The first UTF Subsea Award was awarded Tracerco for their Discovery at UTC 2015.

The Underwater Technology Foundation (UTF) is an independent entity aspiring to provide more insight into the subsea industry in our region. Join us in the deep. The UTF is the driving force behind UTC, with partners GCE Subsea and SPE Bergen Section.