Case Study: Chevron’s Automated METOC and TURBIDITY Surveys Confirm Environmental Compliance at Wheatstone Project, Australia

Challenge: Monitor solids suspended in the water column (turbidity) during dredging and backfill operations.

Solution: Deploy unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) to simultaneously measure suspended sediment concentrations and current speed and direction in real time to differentiate and evaluate the amount of suspended sediment near operations.

Result: Ensured suitable protection of the environment on the basis of reliable, timely statistical results on the condition of the water during dredging and backfill operations.

Turbidity monitoring for one of Australia’s largest resource projects

Discovered by Chevron Australia in 2004, the Wheatstone gas resource offshore Western Australia is joint venture project being developed via an onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) and domestic gas plant. Chevron is working closely with community and government stakeholders to ensure the project is developed in the safest and most environmentally responsible manner possible, which includes surveying and monitoring marine and land environments during construction to detect change and proactively manage activities to conserve marine habitats.

Suspended sediment measurements

Schlumberger Robotics Services recommended using USVs to deploy instrumentation for collecting critical data about the potential presence of high suspended sediment levels in the water column. Conducting USV surveys for both meteorological and oceanographic (METOC) and TURBIDITY services would provide complementary meteorological, oceanographic, and turbidity datasets. Analysis would therefore be more efficiently and flexibly performed compared with using conventional monitoring stations deployed with moored buoys and shipborne methods.

TURBIDITY services USVs are equipped with multiple sensors that measure the alteration of the light climate. The data indirectly provides a relative measure of the level of sedimentation settling on the substrate or biota through the relationship between turbidity and sedimentation rates. Particle concentration and particle size are recorded in predefined classes, with a second measurement of total suspended sediment in the water column made by using a backscatter meter for insight into particle size distribution changes. These data are combined with metocean data recorded by METOC services on a USV for such parameters as air temperature, wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure, wave height and period, wave direction, water temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen.

Documented environmental protection

Chevron was able to thoroughly document the water condition during the dredging and backfill operations through the extensive data collection using autonomous instrumented USVs. Along with the wealth of data obtained, the USVs also delivered significant cost savings in comparison with conventional monitoring methods.

Download: Chevron’s Automated METOC and TURBIDITY Surveys Confirm Environmental Compliance at Wheatstone Project, Australia (0.23 MB PDF)

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USV Surveys for METOC and TURBIDITY Services

Monitoring of solids suspended in the water column (turbidity) during dredging and backfill operations.This data set has clear events sampled by both unmanned surface vehicles with alternate technologies offering an opportunity to understand the differences through further analysis.
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