Oil companies are turning to new technology to find alternatives to obtain offshore datasets. A remotely piloted, renewably powered, autonomous marine vehicle (AMV), is a prime example of this new and innovative approach to offshore operations. Vital data can now be sent straight to the client's desk using the vehicle and satellite based communications. The vehicle by virtue of its low profile and flexibility on maneuvering around obstructions can be placed as close to an obstruction as possible, reducing the risk typically involved in an operation of this nature. Furthermore, its autonomous nature makes it the ideal vehicle for METOC real-time data acquisition and transmission in the presence of harsh weather and oceanic conditions. In the case of marine seismic acquisitions, the valuable intelligence gained concerning the surface currents behavior significantly helps the party chief and his/her team to ensure they run the operation efficiently and safely (stability of the streamer spread). This paper will describe and provide data on how this vehicle has been used in the mode of data delivery for optimizing marine seismic navigation decisions in South America.

A major operator used the AMV equipped with Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) to adapt a seismic survey offshore Uruguay to the local METOC conditions. The AMV was deployed to measure current strength, and provided real-time current data via satellite as the survey was underway. This information helped the party chief prioritize areas of acquisition in order to avoid entangling of the streamer and reduce the amount of feathering.

This operation was done in a cost-effective manner, and the vehicle replaced systems usually mounted on chase vessels, which were deployed for other important navigational challenges on the operation. The streamer survey was optimized without compromising results due to the vehicle's ability to hold station in the presence of currents.

By utilizing the AMV the operator was able to accurately estimate the uncertainties of a seismic survey in a remote location where data is not readily available. The AMV's persistence and endurance during the mission demonstrated its overall capabilities, it was able to do work previously done by manned vessels that deployed the moored ocean monitoring buoy, and it provided a significant reduction in capital and operation costs. This two part system is deployed as an integrated system and has the flexibility and adaptability to be deployed in a variety of marine areas to monitor meteorological and oceanographic events on, above or below the surface of the ocean. This is a novel concept for the exploration and production industry particularly as companies go into deeper waters that demand higher operating costs. To date 9 of the 26 successful completed operations for various operators have been in support of seismic surveys.

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