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Next Generation Offshore Marine Launch and Recovery

Lidan Marine Supplies a New Generation of Launch and Recovery System for Work Class ROVs A Strong Financial and Business Base Unsung Workhorse of the Offshore World Jack of All Trades and Master of Most Places Where Others Cannot Reach

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media


Next Generation Offshore Marine Launch and Recovery

Lidan Marine Supplies a New Generation of Launch and Recovery System for Work Class ROVs



A Strong Financial and Business Base Unsung Workhorse of the Offshore World Jack of All Trades and Master of Most Places Where Others Cannot Reach



John Hancock, Editor

Lidan Marine Supplies a New Generation of Launch and Recovery System for Work Class ROVs


Lars Berglund, Managing Director, Lidan Marine Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor John Hancock

Experience That Counts The Active Heave Compensation System Intelligent Operations Safety First Complete Flexibility

A Strong Financial and Business Base Making the Economic Case For Any Offshore Process There’s Still Life in Mature Fields A Sector Set for Significant Growth Keeping the Sector Functioning Efficiently

Unsung Workhorse of the Offshore World The Undersea Workhorse A Critical Role in Offshore Support

Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes

ROVs Versus Divers

For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

A Family of Workers

Jack of All Trades and Master of Most


Francis Slade, Staff Writer

A Technology That’s in Demand Keeping Everything Running

The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated.

It’s Down to Skill and Software

Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

John Hancock, Editor

© 2014. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.


Peter Dunwell, Correspondent

Senior Project Manager Steve Banks

Production Manager Paul Davies


John Hancock, Editor

Launch and Recovery

Places Where Others Cannot Reach


Not Much That is New Extended Reach; Extended Capability; Extended Life Going Deeper Under the Ice

References 15



Foreword L

AUNCH AND recovery, said in isolation,

The opening article in this Special Report looks at

doesn’t seem too challenging a task. But

a new generation of launch and recovery systems

make the item to be launched and recovered

for Work Class ROVs, developed by Lidan Marine. It

one of the most critical in the offshore oil and

describes Lidan’s Active Heave Compensation (AHC)

gas inventory; make the process one that has

system and its numerous advantages including a pre-

to be completed almost regardless of weather

assembly modular system which has halved delivery

or sea conditions because any time lost can be

time compared to just one year ago. At the same

measured in thousands or tens of thousands of

time, through all stages of operations, safety and the

dollars and make the structures and equipment

minimisation of the risk of damage and injuries to

to be supported by the item themselves worth

personnel is of paramount importance.

hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, then

The second piece contains a wide ranging review

the challenge can become formidable and critical.

of the economics of offshore operations and the

The launch and recovery of remotely operated

need for economic viability which underpins most

vehicles (ROVs) is one of the most challenging

developments in the sector, including ROVs. Then,

tasks undertaken on an offshore oil and gas facility.

closing in on our subject, Peter Dunwell looks at the

The structure the ROV passes during its descent,

ROV and considers what lies behind its successful

the other vessels with which surface space around the

take-over of support processes. Francis Slade looks

splash zone has to be shared before the descent can

more closely at the machines themselves, how they

even begin and the hazards present when it reaches

work, who works them and what it is that they support.

the seabed, all conspire to damage or disable an ROV

Finally we look at how those economic forces from

so the process of deployment and recovery is critical

the second article are driving sector developments,

to mission success.

what those developments are and why the ROV is the

Very often, the forces of nature and the market

equipment for the job.

that have shaped the environment in which an ROV is operating is not only the acceptable but, in many cases, the only solution to a support requirement.

John Hancock Editor

John Hancock joined as Editor of Offshore Technology Reports in early 2012. A journalist for nearly 25 years, John has written and edited articles and papers on a range of engineering, support services and technology topics as well as for key events in the sector. Subjects have included aero-engineering, testing, aviation IT, materials engineering, weapons research, supply chain, logistics and naval engineering.



Lidan Marine Supplies a New Generation of Launch and Recovery System for Work Class ROVs Lars Berglund, Managing Director, Lidan Marine




00 YEARS of providing tailored winch and handling systems came in handy when Lidan Marine decided to launch a new WROV LARS series. It has always been a company that looks at the customer challenges before the first product concept is lined out. Hence the end-users’ opinion has throughout the specification and design phases been the most important input. Reliability, redundancy, compact design, maintainability, and HSSEQ issues have been central topics for potential customers. As a result, the very same parameters were set as central criteria when designing the system. Flexibility with product options as well as for future upgrades and short delivery time also turned out to be

desirable features. Lidan Marine aimed not only to meet these challenging targets, but also to add simplicity and affordability (life-cycle-cost). Lidan Marine has so far focused only on a limited number of customers, all of which are internationally leading operators or manufacturers.

Experience That Counts With over a century of experience designing and delivering products, Lidan Marine is aware that delivery time has to be built into the manufacturing cycle. By using long lead times between numbers of products, Lidan benefits from higher volume from its suppliers and competitive delivery times to its customers. WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 3


With over a century of experience designing and delivering products, Lidan Marine is aware that delivery time has to be built into the manufacturing cycle


Every part of the system is designed for tough handling and operations. The umbilical winch is supplied in electric and hydraulic drive versions. The two technologies offer different advantages and it is easy to combine the best of both. The first winch launched was a deep water workhorse to be operated from offshore rigs. The compact environment calls for a single point wire output provided with Overhead Right Angle Level Wind (OHRALW) which, in itself, is a big add-on to the winch. The full pull capacity mounted on top of the winch requires a heavy duty frame on the winch design. The level wind is powered by a threaded bar making it more compact compared to a hydraulic cylinder. The overhead level wind handles a wider angle of the umbilical, both up and down, than the market traditionally offers. The OHRALW can easily be converted to have the umbilical cable going in both directions. This operation is set up to present as little risk for personnel as possible. An ordinary pinch roller level wind, which was launched as a second step, requires a longer distance to the launch point and needs a swiveling sheave wheel for the umbilical on the A-frame. The rollers are surface treated to improve umbilical lifespan.

The Active Heave Compensation System Active Heave Compensation (AHC) is launched in both drive technologies. The high performance AHC profile, speed and acceleration, requires high oil flow when powered hydraulically. In a 4 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

worm environment the efficiency is sustained by high cooling power. A frequency controlled electric drive AHC system has an equal accuracy and benefits from short in-house set-up. The frame, drum and transmission are identical between the two drive versions. With a pre-assembly modular system, delivery time has been reduced to less than half what the market at its best could offer just one year ago. The design has integrated multiple functions into fewer parts which reduces the number of items to be stored for final assembly. This method also reduces number of spares needed by the customer.

Intelligent Operations The winch, itself, will know at which stage it is working throughout the ROV launch, operation and recovery cycle. An operating AHC is a power consuming activity and therefor is only switched on when needed. High loads operated by powerful equipment in harsh environments call for user-friendly processes. Typically, the final stages of recovery, just before coming through the splash zone up to landing the ROV on the skid, are critical. The system has built-in preventions to protect from damage to the umbilical, the ROV, the LARS itself and, most important, to personnel. External protections (grids and fences) safeguard against falling from the LARS and personnel from accidently putting a limb close to moving parts. Longer ROV duties in pacific climates sometimes require change of the umbilical on the rig. In order to help the operator avoid offand-on spooling, the winch has an exchangeable




umbilical drum design. The process for umbilical termination has been thought through thoroughly to minimize time and risk. This enables the ROV operator to exchange the umbilical more quickly and safer than before. Customers performing the drop-in-drum procedure indicate that, what used to take days can now be done within hours. As regards the very heavy umbilical drum to be handled by a crane in a moving environment, a set of tools is available to make the process simpler. The process requires no direct human intervention, thus minimizing risk of damage and injuries. The Hydraulic Power Unit has sufficient cooling capacity to keep oil temperature down for the lifetime of components even in very hot operation locations. Long lasting working duties for hydraulic systems outside of the African coast, with inferior cooling, may reduce the equipment’s lifetime substantially. Extreme heat from valve and pumps can on some occasions can be hazardous to personnel. Running short of spares in Africa can sometimes become challenging and time consuming.

Safety First The multi-drive concept enables emergency recovery operations in the unlikely event that one drive unit should fail in any part of the power chain. The hydraulic version includes tools and instructions to set the system into emergency recovery conditions. The electric system is simply switched over to emergency operation. The recovery operation can be

done from 4,000 meters with full tooling load on the WROV. The drum capacity is large enough to take 15 % extra storage of umbilical. With an extendable A-frame the unit is foldable with multiple strokes hydraulic for easier transport and installation. The A-frame’s out-reach is at the market’s top of the line and ROV handling made safe. The A-frame is provided with a central greasing point. There is easy access for maintenance and snubber examination. The snubber design provides for all available axis movements to be controlled by the operator. Pre-set limitations may be given by a supervisor for any specific contract. The swing is limited only to stop the operator from accidently overdriving the system and thereby risking damaging the ROV. The snubber’s latch self-locking (auto locking) system has redundancy for safety. The latch locking sequence is indicated on the operator’s panel as well as visually on the snubber itself. The snubber can be equipped with an out-stop, preventing the A-frame from damaging the TMS and ROV at the landing sequence. The equipment is designed in accordance with DNV Standard for Certification No. 2.22 Lifting Appliances, October 2011 and No. 2.73 Portable Offshore Units, May 2011 and CE (ATEX Zone 2, Group IIB, T3 as option). Optional Norsok painting programs are available for contracts with Norwegian end customers. With the full documentation package included, the system should be allowed for installation on all rigs and vessels.



The Hydraulic Power Unit has sufficient cooling capacity to keep oil temperature down for the lifetime of components even in very hot operation locations


Complete Flexibility The full LARS can be operated with controls mounted on the unit itself, with portable remote controls or controls located in a ROV operator room. The operator can receive self-generated diagnostics from its LARS and hence, at any time know the system’s operational status. The monitor will indicate ROV operational depth, spooling speed and tension. Parameters that the system owner will need on a periodical base, such as running hours and number of operations, are stored for extraction. System controls can be carried out remotely, from aan offset location or direct on the LARS. A system owner can have full access to present and historical data from its LARS in an office anywhere in the world. Service can be supported remotely by Lidan or the operator’s service team.



Contact Lidan Marine AB Box 854 SE-531 18 Lidköping SWEDEN Visit Address Fiskaregatan 3 Phone: +46 (0)510-54 52 50 Fax: +46 (0)510-54 52 99 Email: info@lidanmarine.com Email service department: service@lidanmarine.com Web address: www.lidanmarine.com/


A Strong Financial and Business Base John Hancock, Editor Growth across the sector becomes a sound market for individual processes

Making the Economic Case For Any Offshore Process Everything starts with the money because that’s what a business is about; applying investment, skills and time to generate value which can be realised as money. Nowhere is this truer than for the offshore energy sector. The investments are colossal; the skills required to leverage the best performance from the investment are considerable across a broad spectrum of capabilities and the time over which the whole process takes place is measured in decades. Coming to the themes of this paper, for a process such as launch and recovery to thrive and develop, there needs to be a level of activity utilising ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) and for there to be a need for ROVs there will have to be a thriving process using infrastructure, structures and equipment located in often challenging places, and endeavouring to keep it running efficiently and safely. For that all to be worthwhile, there needs to be an economic sector generating sufficient returns to cover its significant costs and return a profit to investors.

There’s Still Life in Mature Fields There is a significant economic sector dedicated to the location and exploitation of oil and gas reserves plus, to an increasing degree, wind energy; and, given that many onshore resources are now known and, for the most part, being exploited, energy companies are looking out into the oceans for further discoveries and resources or for ways to extract further value from known reserves. Even in a mature production area such as the North Sea, the UK Government launched its latest licensing round1 as recently as January 2014 for submissions by 25 April and is looking to tap into what could be as much as 20 billion barrels of oil estimated to remain in or adjacent to known fields. In fact, the UK Government has identified North Sea Oil as a very important resource and one which, given the right levels of governance,

coordination and support, will continue to be a major contributor to the UK economy for many years. Sir Ian Wood, retired chairman of the Wood Group, was asked by the government to carry out a review of the industry from which his interim conclusion has suggested that there could be as much as £200bn of value yet to be exploited2. It isn’t only in the North Sea that such opportunity abounds. Across the offshore oil and gas sector around the world, energy businesses are seeking ways not only to discover new resources, but also to find ways in which known resources previously considered unviable because of their location or the quality of their crude product could be profitably tapped. Even resources that might have been considered spent in terms of the capabilities of old technologies could now be revisited in the light of more recent technological achievements. The way in which mature fields can be exploited and as yet virgin reserves be tapped is often by seeking product in places that, with oil at $40 a barrel in the last century might not have seemed worth the cost and effort but with prices now unlikely to fall below $100 a barrel, can seem attractive… even given the considerable investment that will be required. Those places are often further from shore and in deeper waters or even, as we shall see later, under the Arctic ice.

A Sector Set for Significant Growth Infield Systems has conducted research that confirms3, “… the subsea industry is amongst the most promising in the offshore oil and gas world, with subsea capital expenditure (Capex) set to grow at… 14.8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) to 2017”. Breaking that down, Douglas-Westwood’s Jason Waldie4 predicts that some $77 billion will be spent on subsea operations, new field development, well intervention, and inspection repair and maintenance (IRM) in the period between 2012 and 2016. WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 7


Some $77 billion will be spent on subsea operations, new field development, well intervention, and inspection repair and maintenance (IRM) in the period between 2012 and 2016

According to Thom Payne and DouglasWestwood writing for E&P in 2010 (link no longer available) “Annual deepwater expenditure [was] predicted to reach around US $35 billion in 2014, with a total global [capital expenditure] of $167 billion estimated for the 2010-2014 period…”. Their prediction continued to foresee that, “Three main elements dominate deepwater spend over the next five years: the drilling and completion of subsea development wells, pipelines, and production platforms. To put this in perspective, $63.6 billion will be spent on the drilling and completion of subsea wells alone... The opening up of reserves further from the coast and the incorporation of satellite fields into deepwater hubs will drive expenditure on pipeline and control lines to more than $62 billion.” Douglas-Westwood (see above) also projects a global fleet of more than 7,000 fixed and more than 200 floating platforms, with 190,000 km of pipeline currently installed plus a number of major modification programmes to push growth in offshore operations and maintenance in the next couple of years.


Keeping the Sector Functioning Efficiently Subsea technology, on which offshore production is totally reliant, could not function without subsea services, such as the capability to inspect and test equipment and structures in-situ. The whole industry of subsea inspection, repair and maintenance (IRM) is growing, with global demand for subsea IRM expenditure estimated by Douglas-Westwood (see reference above) at $4.5billion in 2009, and, according to Stork Technical Services, projected to reach nearly $7billion in 2014.5 And, as each new frontier of difficulty is approached and passed, the tasks required to keep the whole process running become less approachable by conventional means. In particular, greater depths will take work beyond the reach of even saturation diving and yet harsher conditions will increase the wear rate on structures and equipment. Putting all of these factors together, the economic case for ROV deployment seems strong and ROVs need to be launched and recovered.


Unsung Workhorse of the Offshore World Peter Dunwell, Correspondent They’re not glamorous and they’re often out of sight but ROVs are the backbone of increasing numbers of subsea processes

Remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) have been around for decades and have become an indispensable tool in the offshore oil and gas industry. One company, Oceaneering, alone operates 280 work-class ROVs in offshore operations around the world. They are part of a long-term development in which vulnerable humans are increasingly being removed from the hazardous conditions that typify the sector. From robotic rigs to subsea processing plants to the continual inspection, maintenance and repair programmes on which continuity of production so depends, wherever people can be removed or their presence reduced, the opportunity to do so is being taken. The ROV is a large part of that process.

The Undersea Workhorse An ROV is a tethered but highly manoeuvrable underwater vehicle as opposed to the remote control vehicles operated on land or in the air. ROVs are unoccupied, operation being managed by a crew aboard a base vessel. The link to the operators on board the ship is usually by either a neutrally buoyant tether or, often when working in rough conditions or in deeper water, a load carrying umbilical cable along with a tether management system (TMS). The purpose of the TMS is to lengthen and shorten the tether to minimise the effect of cable drag where there are underwater currents. The umbilical cable is armoured and contains a group of electrical conductors and fibre optics carrying electrical power, video and data signals back and forth between the operator and the TMS. Where used, the TMS then relays the signals and power for the ROV down the tether cable. Most of the electrical power is used to drive a hydraulic pump for propulsion and to power equipment such as torque tools and manipulator arms where electrical motors would be too difficult to implement in subsea conditions. Most ROVs are equipped with at least a video camera and lights. Additional equipment is commonly added to expand the

vehicle’s capabilities. These may include sonars, magnetometers, a still camera, a manipulator or cutting arm, water samplers, and instruments that measure water clarity, water temperature, water density, sound velocity, light penetration and temperature. It is a workshop at the point where the work is needed6. ROVworld7 sums up the strengths of the system; “A Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) is essentially an underwater robot that allows the vehicle’s operator to remain in a comfortable environment while the ROV works in the hazardous environment below… ROVs can vary in size from small vehicles with TVs for simple observation up to complex work systems, which can have several dexterous manipulators, TVs, video cameras, tools and other equipment.” It also helps to make the distinction between ROVs and AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles), emerging systems that will greatly extend the range of vehicles undertaking routine tasks and inspections.

A Critical Role in Offshore Support ROVs were first developed as a means to retrieve objects from the ocean floor, notable in which was the retrieval of a nuclear bomb from the Mediterranean Sea following the 1966 Palomares B52 crash. But what were then known as cable controlled underwater recover vehicles (CURVs) soon came to the attention of an oil and gas sector seeking resources in ever more challenging offshore and subsea locations. Rigzone explains that8; “The commercial world quickly began manufacturing preliminary versions of ROVs for the offshore oil and gas industry. Although these products were not as successful initially, the technology has come a long way, and now ROVs are regularly used offshore for petroleum developments and drilling, military and science efforts, as well as underwater cable endeavors.” So important have ROVs now become for the industry that SeeByte in ‘Automating ROV WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 9


(10,000 feet) and with significant lift capability up to 11,000 pounds.

They can vary in size

ROVs Versus Divers

from a bread box to a large van and can perform a range of functions. Small ROVs can operate to 300 meters (900 feet) while high capability models can operate as far as 6,096 meters (20,000 feet) below the surface

Operations in aid of the Oil & Gas Offshore Industry’9 puts it as strongly as… “The Remotely Operated Vehicle has been instrumental in the development of subsea fields. So much so that when new subsea infrastructure is designed an important requirement is to allow seamless ROV operations. From drilling (where the ROV is used to monitor the BOP and riser), through construction support (surveys, touch-down monitoring, interfacing), IRM (inspection, tooling, etc.) and even in the decommissioning phase the ROV is the easiest and safest way to interact with the subsea environment enabling truly amazing feats of engineering and ingenuity.” In fact, some would say that, given the increasing hazard as a life expired structure is dismantled or prepared for towing to a shorebased facility, only a remotely operated vehicle would be appropriate.

A Family of Workers While they are ubiquitous, ROVs are by no means an homogeneous class of equipment. Excluding those not employed in offshore oil and gas, Rigzone (see reference above) tells us that they can vary in size from a bread box to a large van and can perform a range of functions. Small ROVs can operate to 300 meters (900 feet) while high capability models can operate as far as 6,096 meters (20,000 feet) below the surface. Most of those used in offshore oil and gas would be categorised as Work Class Vehicles with, possibly, limited payload capacity but extensive functional ability, including the advanced Heavy Work Class able to perform extensive tasks at depths to 3,000 meters


While divers once were the mainstay of offshore subsea construction, inspection, repair and maintenance operations, for a variety of reasons ROVs are increasingly fulfilling those roles. Human divers can only submerge to certain depths, and the skill and danger involved makes deepwater diving unrealistic. It also makes it expensive as Deloitte Access Economics concluded in its 2013 study for the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA)10; “As with the broader oil and gas industry, labour costs in the offshore oil and gas marine support sector have increased substantially in recent years.” Developed to overcome the limitations of human subsea divers, ROVs have become an indispensable tool to the offshore oil and gas industry. Also, while divers need rest time between dives and, even in good conditions, are limited in the time they spend at the work point, ROVs can work around the clock, subject to their own maintenance regime. Also, ROVs don’t require the paraphernalia associated with deeper saturation diving and, of course, they can operate at far greater depths than any human diver could manage. Let’s give the last word to ROVworld: “Remote technology in water depths shallower than about 30 meters is generally not cost effective. In increasing water depths it becomes more cost effective to about 300 meters after which diving is no longer an option. It is generally slower to complete work using remote technology for work underwater or in other hazardous locations such as mine sites or sewers but the added time penalty is more often than not offset by smaller crew size and less complex and costly surface support equipment. Of course it is much safer than diving as man is not exposed to the risks associated with working underwater.”


Jack of All Trades and Master of Most Francis Slade, Staff Writer The ROV can go anywhere and do most things that the offshore oil and gas sector might require

A Technology That’s in Demand Within what is already a big ticket industry, the ROV market in offshore oil and gas was expected to reach $2.46bn in 201311. That is likely to have been achieved given the overall growth of the global economy and offshore oil and gas. This prediction, in the ‘ROVs in the Oil & Gas Industry 2013-2023’ report from Visiongain, added that, “The market for ROVs in the oil and gas industry is a rapidly growing segment of the global offshore oil and gas market where technological advances of recent years have resulted in increasing installation of subsea infrastructure, and have allowed companies to operate in ever greater water depths. The complexity of subsea equipment and the dangers associated with operating in deepwater and ultra-deepwater areas have made ROVs indispensable to the development and safety of offshore hydrocarbon projects around the world. Demand for ROVs and ROV services will grow as oil and gas companies increase their production from offshore reserves and decommissioning of old fixed production facilities increases. Due to the integral role ROVs play in the offshore oil and gas industry, investment is bound to grow strongly over the next decade”. The range of tasks to which an ROV can be applied reflects the range of subsea hardware used in the offshore oil and gas sector. The subsea hardware inventory extends to wherever recoverable reserves of oil and gas are found beneath the ocean; from the complexity of a Christmas Tree sited over a well head to the deceptive simplicity of a pipeline and the structures that support platforms and production facilities. There is even a growing trend to site processing facilities on the seabed. All of these require regular monitoring to ensure economic operation and continuing capability to safely support the processes of the business and protect the environment from pollution risk. Monitoring all this will entail inspections and testing in increasingly hostile environments – one application for subsea

processing, for instance, will be to facilitate year round production from Arctic fields that might be under ice for half of the year. Any inspection routine will need to cover a range of equipment and structures including manifolds, pipelines and structures like platform legs, caissons, rigid risers and flexible risers.

Keeping Everything Running Looked at simply, the life stages for any installation mirror the life stages of a field… exploration, proving reserves, building and installing structures, production and maintenance, decommissioning, and dismantling or making safe. In each of these stages, and although obtaining it is often a challenge, effective and detailed data is required for valuable asset integrity assessment and possible lifetime analysis. Also, most equipment has a ‘design life’, for which it was planned to function. These days, a lot of equipment is being operated well beyond its design life. That is acceptable; but, where a facility undergoes lifetime extension, the subsequent inspection regime will need to be all the more rigorous. It’s a big business. According to DouglasWestwood reported in Energy Global12, “In 2013, demand for offshore maintenance, modifications and operations services totalled US$ 112 billion for the world’s nearly 9000 offshore platforms.” As well as the quantitative growth of the market, there has been a qualitative growth in ROV capabilities. Tasks for ROVs in support of oil exploration and development, deepwater pipelines, and many other areas, continue to increase in both depth and complexity. For groups such as Oceaneering, their fleet of ROVs is pretty well fully engaged in the deepwater offshore sector13.

It’s Down to Skill and Software Of course, notwithstanding the above, ROVs are tools and it is to the skilled people who operate them that the credit has to go for WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 11


Pilots have access to an array of software in controlling the course of the ROV and in performing the most delicate tasks

leveraging the best from ROVs’ extensive capabilities. The usual ROV crew, according to Oceaneering, consists of three technicians; a Supervisor, Mechanical Technician and Electrical Technician. This is the most important part of the ROV: the purpose is to perform a task – the ROV is the means of getting to and from the task location. The Pilot ‘flies’ the ROV and operates the Manipulator and/or Specialized Tooling to complete the assigned task. From the surface he can see the task for which the ROV has been deployed via underwater television cameras and/or sonar devices and other sensors on the ROV. Various manual and hydraulic tools can be deployed by the manipulator to the site to perform tasks. In some cases special tools are designed and built to perform specific tasks. Very complex tasks can be carried out using remote technology deployed by use of a generic ROV or specially designed equipment for doing specific work. While novice pilots will focus on the flying function, experienced operators soon learn about the job as well. And, these days,


pilots have access to an array of software in controlling the course of the ROV and in performing the most delicate tasks. Indeed, the most advanced programmes, like those used on commercial airliners, can undertake a lot of the work unaided with the pilot able to perform a supervisory role.

Launch and Recovery Launch and recovery phases require careful planning and execution in order to ensure the safety of an ROV when it might be closest to the area of danger represented by an offshore installation. This area, where the sea meets the air, is the splash zone which, according to Oceaneering again14, presents the greatest risk of damage to the ROV, TMS (tether management system), and potentially the [host] vessel. Large waves and high winds can cause the ROV and TMS to swing wildly, potentially impacting the vessel structure. So, not only is the technology of the ROV important but also the launch and recovery technology which keeps it safe.


Places Where Others Cannot Reach John Hancock, Editor ROVs are making previously inaccessible places accessible and, more to the point, exploitable

Peter and Francis have explained what ROVs are and what they are capable of doing. In this closing article, we’ll look at developments that are making the offshore working environment so demanding, how ROVs work and some of the specific work for which they can be tasked. The first part of that can be covered in a word… extension. There are two basic ways in which the world’s seemingly insatiable demand for energy can be met – from burning hydrocarbons and from harnessing sustainable, renewable resources. While the latter might be attractive and will one day be able to supply all of our energy needs, there will need to be a lot of technology and development work completed before its capability will be anywhere near meeting even today’s demands, let alone the growing demands of a burgeoning world population. For the time being, hydrocarbons will have to shoulder the bulk of our energy needs and that means extracting every last drop of value from oil and gas (even coal) resources.

Not Much That is New There are bound to be new, as yet undiscovered, reserves still beneath the earth’s surface but, with the exception of shale oil and gas reserves, the likelihood of them being conveniently located is small; if it were the case, we would have found them by now. New discoveries will be in increasingly inaccessible places and often at the bottom of very deep oceans so getting to them, let alone exploiting them, will pose all sorts of problems. The more viable option will be to increase the retrieval rate of product from existing, known reserves and that can come about in two ways. Either the technology will be available to improve the uplift rate from old fields where the product quality has declined over years of exploitation, or smaller and more remote reserves within the field will become viable as long as they don’t have to be equipped with the full production paraphernalia: this means tying back to an existing platform. A good example would be Husky Oil Corporation’s South White

Rose Extension field in which Technip have been awarded the contract to install the subsea tiebacks15. If the price of oil and gas is right, all of this will be viable. It will also all mean extending not only the reach but the operating life of a field with its associated structures and equipment some way beyond what was planned.

Extended Reach; Extended Capability; Extended Life Summing up the situation, the Journal of Petroleum Technology, February 2012 edition16 explained; “To keep capital and operational expenditures at a minimum, there is an increasing requirement from operators to use existing infrastructure, and, consequently, there is a trend to use subsea tiebacks to existing platforms. Therefore, platforms become ‘hubs’ and often their operational life is extended. The result is that decommissioning is delayed and equipment… now requires significant overhaul or replacement to continue service for another 10 to 20 years… Extending the life of existing assets ultimately results in installations operating well beyond their original design life. However, the aging of facilities can have a direct effect on installation integrity and safety… Aging and life extension are major issues for the offshore oil and gas industry.” The Journal continues on the subject of life extension; “More than half of the offshore oil and gas installations in the UK Sector of the North Sea have been operating for at least 20 years. Most assets are approaching or operating beyond their original design intent. With the rise in oil and gas prices and advances in technology, there is an increasing requirement to extend the operational life of these assets. Safety-case regulations were modified to include a technical justification for extended operation, and the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) launched Key Programme 4 (KP4) to ensure that all duty holders have suitable management systems in place to address aging-related issues adequately.” WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 13


with higher concentrations of aggressive species (e.g. H2S, CO2, solids, water). Words like ‘hostile’ and ‘aggressive’ suggest that the challenges facing deep sea facilities are more than simply intellectual.

Either the technology will be available to improve

Under the Ice

the uplift rate from old fields where the product quality has declined over years of exploitation, or smaller and more remote reserves within the field will become viable

Going Deeper Going deeper into the ocean can be as challenging for structures and equipment as extending their working life. In a May 2013 interview with O&G Next Generation (no longer available online), Dr Neil Thompson, Ex-President of the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) explained that most often hostile environments are associated with offshore pipelines and facilities. As production goes deeper, the environments of production almost always become more hostile (temperature and pressure) and often


And then there is the next new frontier: what Bob Reiss in CNN Money17 described as the ‘arms race for arctic oil‘. It’s long been known that there is oil beneath the Arctic Ocean but the technology to reach it has, until recently, eluded us. The melting ice cap has brought increasing areas of the Arctic into reach but also technologies such as subsea processing are making it possible to exploit reserves even beneath the ice itself. This all points to a need for access to resources and equipment without the need to risk human life, to be limited to what humans might achieve in such challenging conditions or be limited to where the human body can go. ROVs can survey, inspect, test, construct, upgrade, maintain, repair and even reposition any subsea equipment and some smaller structures or parts of structures. They can lay pipes and can be used in cementing operations. In fact there are few tasks that a human can do that an ROV cannot also manage in a wider range of conditions for a more sustained work period. The ROV offers the perfect solution to most offshore challenges and its routine and safe launch and recovery from increasing numbers of missions will become an ever more important component in the smooth and profitable operation of an increasingly demanding offshore oil and gas environment.


References: 1

 The Scotsman http://www.scotsman.com/business/energy/uk-offshore-oil-and-gas-licensing-round-begins-1-3281366


BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24898532


Infield Systems, ‘Subsea Oil and Gas Sector Set For 14.8% CAGR Growth To 2017’ http://www.infield.com/news/subsea-oil-gas-sector-growth-2017


Jason Waldie at the ‘Subsea Asia Conference’, Kuala Lumpur

http://www.subseauk.com/documents/subsea%20asia%20-%20jason%20waldie.pdf 5

Stork Technical Services, ‘Subsea IRM Market’ http://www.storktechnicalservices.com/en/markets/subsea/


Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remotely_operated_underwater_vehicle


ROVworld http://www.rovworld.com/faq-8-About+ROV.html


Rigzone ‘How do ROVs Work?’ http://www.rigzone.com/training/insight.asp?insight_id=343&c_id=17


SeeByte, ‘Automating ROV Operations in aid of the Oil & Gas Offshore Industry’


http://www.seebyte.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Automating_ROV_Operations.pdf AMMA, ‘Analysis of the offshore oil and gas marine support sector’ http://www.amma.org.au/assets/media/2013MediaReleases/Aug/DAE_Analysis_offshore_oilandgas_marine_support_sector_final.pdf


Offshore Energy Today http://www.offshoreenergytoday.com/rov-market-in-oil-gas-industry-to-reach-value-of-2-46-bln-in-2013/


Energy Global



Oceaneering http://www.oceaneering.com/rovs/rov-faq/


Subsea Oil & Gas Directory http://www.subsea.org/subsea.html


Rigzone http://www.rigzone.com/news/article_pf.asp?a_id=126369


The Journal of Petroleum Technology

http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/article/Offshore+Oil+and+Gas+Installation%E2%80%94Aging+and+Life+Extension/951953/0/article.html 17

CNN Money http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2012/05/10/eskimo-and-oil-man-reiss/


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