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Equinor awards pioneering wireless subsea drone contract
Equinor, on behalf of the Njord licence, has awarded Saipem a subsea service contract using a wireless underwater intervention drone and an ROV (remotely operated vehicle).
The contract will make Equinor the first user of this underwater drone technology that is expected to be completed in 2020.
‘This is a historic contract in the oil and gas industry. It is the first contract signed for the use of advanced wireless drone services. We are pleased to secure a contract that will bring subsea technology a big step forward,’ comments Anders Opedal, Executive Vice President, Technology, Projects & Drilling, Equinor.
To be employed when the Njord field resumes production in 2020, the new technology uses an underwater intervention drone (Hydrone-R) and an all-electric work class ROV (Hydrone-W). The drone may be autonomous below Njord for months between scheduled maintenance, whereas Hydrone-W will be connected to the platform like a traditional ROV. Both are electric and can be operated without a surface vessel. The technology will contribute to significant carbon reduction, states Equinor. In addition, response times will be reduced and operations will not be dependent on weather conditions.
Hydrone-W will be used for heavy intervention work. It can be operated from a Njord control room or from shore. It is expected to be fully developed in 2021. Hydrone-R will perform similar tasks, but has been assigned a ‘janitor role’ for quick response in unexpected situations. Hydrone-R is expected to be fully developed in early 2020.