Seatronics Invests in Deepwater Sensor Technology

Offshore operators in the Gulf of Mexico can now monitor dangerous subsea currents, which US Government advisors say could damage equipment, with specialist technology from Seatronics.

The US Department of the Interior's Minerals Monitoring Service (MMS) has raised serious concerns about the potential effect of the Gulf loop, eddy and deep-sea currents on subsea infrastructure.

Events such as El Nino and La Nina, where the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific changes sufficiently through unusually high or low temperatures to influence weather systems including currents, can affect currents.

Seatronics has invested heavily in specialist sensor equipment, designed specifically for oceanographic studies and capable of detecting current flows, to help operators protect their own investments.

Houston and New Iberia-based subsea electronics rental specialist Seatronics has now invested in a range of sensor equipment from leading manufacturer Teledyne RDI, for rental from its bases serving the Gulf.

The devices are based around Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler systems and measure how fast water is moving across an entire water column. An ADCP anchored to the seafloor can measure current speed not just at the bottom, but also at equal intervals all the way up to the surface.

That allows operators to monitor conditions below the surface and plan preventative action or remedial work if necessary.

Managing director of Seatronics, David Currie said: "The MMS is rightly concerned by the potential effect of strong currents on subsea equipment and infrastructure.

"Safety alerts were issued by the department to advise operators of the existence of the loop and eddy currents and their potential effects. That was intended to influence equipment design, as it has concerns about seabed equipment and production risers.

"The MMS regulations require the use of conservative design standards for oil and gas equipment, platforms and risers so that these structures are well engineered and have the capacity to withstand unexpected events.

"By investing heavily in specialist monitoring equipment, which is now available for rental in the Gulf of Mexico, we can provide operators with a solution which allows them to protect their own investments."

Seatronics has also taken on a range of Doppler Velocity Logs, which are used to assist the navigation of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

Seatronics, a division of the Craig Group, is investing more than $9million in equipment, people and premises to fund its ongoing major global expansion in 2006.

Its equipment is used to find objects missing from oilfield operations in the Gulf of Mexico, with subsea sonars deployed to locate items on the seabed while magnetometers and gradiometers can detect and locate metal objects buried under the seabed.

Earlier this year, Seatronics expanded its Louisiana office with the opening of bigger, purpose-built premises in New Iberia on the main supply route for the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

A division of global shipping and energy services firm, The Craig Group, Seatronics employs more than 60 people across its five global offices and turns over in excess of $21.75 million.