Boaty McBoatface Begins End of Life Oilfield Research

Boaty McBoatface Begins End of Life Oilfield Research
The National Oceanography Centre has begun conducting research with robot submarine Boaty McBoatface on end-of-life oilfields.

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has announced that it has begun conducting research with robot submarine Boaty McBoatface on end-of-life oilfields off the coast of the Shetland Islands to help monitor and protect the marine environment in the North Sea and to support industry transition towards its net-zero targets.

The underwater robot will be exploring several oil and gas structures - including NW Hutton and Miller as well as the Braemar Pockmarks Marine Protected Area – “revolutionizing” the way in which marine surveys are undertaken, NOC outlined.

A project dubbed Autonomous Techniques for infraStructure Ecological Assessment (AT-SEA), which is led by NOC, will trial the concept of using submarines like Boaty McBoatface for high-tech, low-impact monitoring to pick up any potential environmental impacts at these industrial sites, NOC highlighted. This may eventually replace the current approach for environmental monitoring for decommissioning, the organization revealed.

There are currently thousands of oil and gas structures in the sea that are approaching the end of their lives, according to NOC, which highlighted that in UK waters alone there are nearly 500. To ensure that no harmful effects will occur to the marine environment, decommissioning operations need to be supported by an environmental assessment and subsequent monitoring, NOC outlined.

“The overall goal of the project is to improve the environmental protection of the North Sea at a reduced cost and impact to the environment,” the project lead for AT-SEA, NOC’s Daniel Jones, said in an organization statement.

“We aim to demonstrate how this leading robotic technology from the NOC could be used worldwide to support this crucial ocean monitoring … This technology has the potential to change the way marine surveys are carried out in the future,” he added.

Back in March 2016, the Natural Environment Research Council launched a campaign to find a name for the UK’s “next world-class polar research ship”, NOC highlights on its website, adding that one suggestion – Boaty McBoatface - was soon trending on Twitter and being talked about all over the world.

“The ship was named another popular choice, RRS Sir David Attenborough, but the popularity of ‘Boaty’ could not be ignored, and so one of the National Oceanography Centre’s Autosub Long Range autonomous vehicles now proudly carries the name,” NOC states on its website.

NOC is an independent self-governing organization, which is funded by UK Research and Innovation to work on National Capability programs, and manages on its behalf the National Marine Equipment Pool, NOC outlines on its website.

The organization, which describes itself as one of the world’s top oceanographic institutions, undertakes “world leading” research in large scale oceanography and ocean measurement technology innovation, its site highlights.

To contact the author, email andreas.exarheas@rigzone.com


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