Obtaining accurate data is an important factor in drilling operations and can have lasting effects on exploration and production objectives. This abstract focuses on the use of autonomous marine vehicles (AMVs), a hybrid sea-surface and underwater vehicle that's capable of crossing thousands of kilometers of ocean to gather oceanographic data, for effective environmental seep surveys, taking meteorological readings while maintaining a stationary position, or circling a rig at a preset distance to provide early warning of security and environmental threats. Once deployed, it uses no crew, requires no fuel and produces no emissions, thus eliminating both risk to personnel and impact on the environment.

1Two AMV's were used to conduct a baseline survey offshore Northwest Australia. Quality data was acquired by the AMV's prior to commencing pipeline dredging work for the construction of two liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains and a domestic gas plant, 12 km west of Onslow on the Pilbara coast.

2A major operator used the AMV equipped with Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) to aid in operations during a seismic survey in Gulf of Mexico. The AMV was deployed to measure current parameters, and to transmit this data in real-time via satellite to the seismic vessel as the survey was underway.

1The vehicles travelled a total of 1,424 miles over the 60-day mission, waypoint tracking remained stable and there was no lost survey time.

2This information helped the navigators to determine how closely the vessel could pass obstructions in order to minimize infill while at the same time avoiding entangling the streamer on the marine structure.

Both operations were completed in a cost-effective manner, and the vehicle replaced manned vessels, which were deployed for other important navigational challenges on the operation. The survey was optimized without compromising results due to the vehicle's ability to overcome a number of challenges including a significant dust storm which caused bio fouling, limiting data recording times, and a hurricane causing the vehicles to be piloted to a designated holding area. By utilizing AMVs, both operators were able to accurately estimate the uncertainties of a seismic survey, in a remote location in the presence of assets like rigs and process platforms where data was not readily available and to circumvent lost survey time during pipeline dredging operations.

This technology provides persistent ocean presence and a reliable data acquisition platform which can support numerous drilling applications. To date these vehicles have conducted 28 missions in the oil and gas industry with more than 3,100 days at sea. AMV's have proven to be a very cost-effective way to conduct exploration business while managing risks.

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