Case Study: Reducing the Risk of Close-Pass Seismic Operations by Providing METOC Data with an Autonomous USV

Challenge: Obtain critical meteorological and oceanographic (METOC) data in real time to guide North Sea seismic survey operations.

Solution: Deploy autonomous unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) in open water and near platforms to measure current speed and direction as well as weather data for relay in real time to streamer-towing survey vessels to support safer navigation.

Result: Successfully conducted a close-pass seismic operation guided by a USV with METOC capabilities that maintained its position over a 13-day period to provide current speed and direction and weather data.

Real-time measurements needed for currents and weather

The North Sea is rich in natural gas and oil resources. It is also home to some of the busiest shipping routes in the world. In the process of seismic exploration, commercial vessels tow multiple acoustic streamers that are listening for the reflection of acoustic energy from beneath the seafloor. Because of the size of these operations and their vulnerability to surface currents and inclement weather, real-time measurements of currents and weather are critical to the safest possible operation, especially when conducting close passes.

Advantages provided by Schlumberger Robotics Services

USVs enable greater situational awareness in the form of real-time weather and current measurements. Using these autonomous solutions in a well-developed area is possible at a fraction of the cost of traditional monitoring services that use moored buoys or shipborne operations. With an ability to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week independently of weather conditions, the USV is an ideal platform for critical and persistent operations.

METOC data collection can be conducted at either a station held at a specified location or with the USV following a predefined course, including irregular transits through shipping lanes and active oil fields. Conditions are monitored on, above, or below the ocean surface to provide a variety of information: wind speed and direction, air temperature and pressure, sea current speed and direction, wave height, and optional conductivity, temperature, and depth measurements.

USV position maintained for 13 days to provide METOC data

The USV deployed for the North Sea seismic operation easily held station over a 13-day period to provide critical METOC data. Using this real-time data, the operator was able to successfully conduct an otherwise high-risk close-pass seismic operation.

Download: Reducing the Risk of Close-Pass Seismic Operations by Providing METOC Data with an Autonomous USV (0.39 MB PDF)

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USV Enables High-Risk Close-Pass Seismic Operation

Current magnitudes approaching 1.4 knots are seen through the sampling depths.
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