Thales & Sonsub to Build ROVs to Assist Prestiage Cleanup

The solution to the pollution problems caused by the wreck of the Prestige oil tanker could be at hand. The Repsol YPF was appointed by the Spanish Government to find the best solution to extract the remaining fuel in the Prestige wreck. Repsol YPF selected and awarded contracts to Thales GeoSolutions and Sonsub to design and build ROVs for the deepwater survey and investigation, and a further contract to Sonsub, in partnership with Thales GeoSolutions, to carry out a deepwater survey, investigation and evaluation study on the wreck of the Prestige oil tanker which sank in deep water off the coast of Northern Spain in November of 2002 still carrying a substantial amount of heavy fuel oil.

Under the terms of the contracts, worth several million Euros, a team of experts has been brought together by Repsol YPF, Thales and Sonsub to fulfill this project deploying the very latest in work class Remotely Operated Vehicles designed, developed and built for physical intervention work at depths previously not attempted in the industry (4,000 meters).

As prime contractor, Sonsub's project team based in Aberdeen maintains operational control as well as being responsible for the overall operation aboard its dynamically positioned vessel the DPV Polar Prince, which is staffed by a full team of both marine and construction crews. Thales GeoSolutions, is providing seabed mapping, geotechnical engineering and precise DGPS and acoustic positioning in support of the project as planned by Repsol YPF. Thales GeoSolutions is also charged with presenting the information gathered in a GIS database to ease access and analysis for planning further work at the site.

Announcing the contract win, Stanislas Guerin, Thales Senior Vice President in charge of the Positioning Based Solutions Business Group, said: "This is a very demanding contract but I'm sure the companies involved have the necessary expertise required to complete the work successfully. Thales has an impressive track record in precise positioning and carrying out a wide variety of deepwater ROV and survey tasks. We are working closely with our colleagues at Sonsub and Repsol YPF towards a successful conclusion to this ground-breaking project."

Repsol YPF contracted Sonsub and Thales GeoSolutions to design and build ROVs for the deepwater survey and investigation, together with the physical intervention and evaluation work. In addition, Thales GeoSolutions has made available deepwater survey and inspection equipment, as well as its data processing expertise and facilities.

A number of technically significant developments and important milestones have been achieved in this project, following the planning designed by the Operator Repsol YPF and using Sonsub's DPV Polar Prince, together with Sonsub and Thales GeoSolutions equipment:

Successful ROV intervention operation at 3800 m covering:
  • External and Internal oil level measurement at 3800 m
  • Mini-cone penetrometer testing (MCPT) taken at 3800 m
  • Leak repairs - currently below 10 Kg/day in the bow and less than 10 Kg/day in the stern
  • Multibeam sonar survey at 3800m
  • Environmental measurements made at 3800 m, including samples of water and oil
  • Geotechnical engineering studies at 3800m, including soil samples, box and piston cores


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