The major challenges for future oil and gas installations are to create and increase business value in addition to improve HSE (Health, Safety and the Environment). The oil and gas industry has recognised the potential of operations and maintenance in ‘normally unmanned areas’ where access to the entire process is based on utilisation of new robotics-based technologies from remote onshore locations.

This paper concerns remote integrated operations by deploying teleoperation and telepresence of oil and gas installations. The challenges involve more than the technology of transferring data and performing operations. A teleoperator or a telerobot is a ‘machine’ which extends a human operator’s sensing and manipulation capability to a remote environment. An essential issue of telepresence is to keep the human operators in the control loop to enable them to use their high levels of skill to complement the power of remote manipulators.

Teleoperation within oil and gas differs from other known applications as offshore installations represent large, complex and dynamic processes located hundreds of miles away, often in very harsh environments where failures may result in major consequences for the environment and process equipment.

The challenges of offshore teleoperation are to enhance the operator’s perception of the current situation so that the operator has a complete understanding of the state of the process and operates the process as if he was offshore without hundreds of miles and complex technology in between.

This paper outlines the challenges and opportunities of deploying robotics in integrated remote operations with a description of laboratory and early field tests as part of a joint project between ABB and Statoil.

Without any doubt, safe and efficient remote operation is critical for operating profitable new fields which may be completely unmanned in the future.

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