An intelligent submarine capable of inspecting wellheads and pipelines over tens of kilometers, in 3,000 meters of water. Capable, too, of detecting anomalies independently, providing real-time warnings and transmitting large amounts of data. Such are the ambitious objectives set by Total and Chevron in order to improve the monitoring of subsea installations. A team of a dozen researchers has been tasked with building an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) that can do that, by 2016.
“Today, remote operated vehicles (ROV) used for monitoring are tied back to workboats by cables and have to be guided,” explains Frédéric Garnaud, Head of Deep Offshore Development Project in E&P's R&D Division. “This innovation would allow us to perform the same tasks four times faster, improving both safety and costs."
But Total and Chevron have even bigger plans: Within six or seven years, the AUV will be able to perform work on installations. It is is an outstanding example of how Total's R&D teams serve the business needs of exploration and production operations.
[Film] The AUV inspects several kilometers of pipeline every day.