Fugro wins MH370 search contract


Survey player Fugro has won the contract from the Australian government to carry out an underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that vanished in March.

The company is to deploy two of its vessels in the search off Australia’s western coast for the ill-fated plane, which may take up to one year.

The contract was awarded by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which has been allocated A$60 million (US$55.9 million) by the government to carry out the search.

Fugro did not, however, disclose the value of its own contract.

The Panama-flagged research survey vessel Fugro Discovery is expected to be deployed in the search area to begin a deep-water survey in late September. The Bahamas-flagged Fugro Equator, also a research survey vessel and which has already been involved in the bathymetric survey of the area, will join the new operation at a later time.

Both units will be equipped with side-scan sonar, multi-beam echo sounders and video cameras as they hunt for the Boeing 777-200ER that went missing with 12 Malaysian crew and 227 passengers on 8 March en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Fugro spokesperson Rob Luijnenburg told Upstream that the its two vessels will between them aim to cover 60,000 square kilometres over the course of the full contract.

Each will be capable of covering around 2.5 square kilometres per month.

The search area is within the so-called 7th arc as designated by the ATSB.

Malaysia’s Petronas said on Monday that it was chipping in more than $20 million and deploying assets in the search for the plane. The state-owned oil giant is to deploy underwater search equipment and an offshore support vessel in what is says is a “new search area”.

Petronas said on Monday it is funding the 67 million Malaysian ringgit ($20.92 million) deployment of a Prosas towed side scan sonar unit and the anchor-handling tug supply vessel Go Phoenix. The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel is managed by Go Offshore Asia of Singapore.

Petronas had in April used the SapuraCrest Petroleum-owned survey vessel Teknik Putra in the search for a week.

When the plane disappeared, initial searches concentrated on the South China Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea, before moving to the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia.

(This article has been amended from the original to reflect the fact that Fugro is now a survey company, having sold its seismic business.)

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