Houston-based Oceaneering International has conducted the first onshore remote piloting of a remotely operated vehicle in the UK sector for supermajor BP.

The task was to observe drilling operations at BP’s Clair Ridge facility west of Shetland in 141 metres water.

The operation was conducted from Oceaneering’s Onshore Remote Operations Centre (OROC) in Stavanger, Norway, and ran from 20 July to 5 August 2021.

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The Stavanger-based remote piloting team operated the ROV for over 70 hours during the campaign with 100% uptime, the company said, adding that a global support team comprised of members from the UK, Norway, India, and the US assisted in achieving the implementation.

“The operation was a successful demonstration of not only new technology, but a demonstration of continued resilience and protection of the offshore workforce during Covid-19,” said Martin McDonald, senior vice president, subsea robotics, at Oceaneering.

“Oceaneering’s OROC team can continue to operate and remain the eyes and ears of an operation – from any location around the world – during unforeseen disruptions and report back information to the client,” he said.

ROV remote piloting from shore can increase safety and reduce the environmental footprint of operations, potentially achieving up to 25% reduction in offshore personnel on board and provide a significant reduction in emissions associated with the work, according to Oceaneering.

The two companies worked together to establish a secure data link via subsea optical fibre to the offshore worksite.

“The success of this innovative solution at Clair Ridge builds increased credibility and familiarity to remote ROV operations. By using experts located onshore in Norway instead of offshore personnel, the safety risk was reduced,” said Tom Fuller, vice president of wells at BP North Sea.

“It’s also a great example of how remote technologies can deliver emissions reductions on our assets, aligning with BP’s ambition to be a net zero company by 2050 or sooner. This project has helped BP to better understand the benefits and challenges of implementing remotely piloted ROVs — learnings that we can take forward into future opportunities here and across our global operations.”