Douglas-Westwood predicts bright future for AUVs in oil & gas industry

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) still have, despite widespread use, the potential for substantial growth with each new technological advance increasing the viability of the vessels in different sectors, especially in the oil and gas industry, Douglas-Westwood, an energy intelligence group, said in its DW Monday report. 

Technological advancement has driven growth in the sector and in the last few years units have become increasingly flexible, DW stated.

According to the intelligence group, AUVs are now capable of performing a range of tasks, which can be changed quickly by operators. An increasing number of compact units have been introduced to the market making the vessels capable and usable in greater depths.

However, DW stated, many factors still limit a wider uptake of AUVs. The intelligence group named factors like limited communication, lack of manipulation ability and low levels of endurance as areas where improvements must be made to increase the use of AUVs in the future.

DW claims that such improvements will, in turn, lead to reducing the requirement for human workers, increased accuracy, reliability and safety.

The report noted that the sector has a strong research culture, and there is constant work to create new concepts and push the current technologies further. The Eelume’s subsea intervention “snakes” which allow inspection work in areas too small for typical tools, is a new technology worth noting, said DW.

Statoil’s recent agreement with Eelume to help accelerate the technology demonstrates that there is clear interest within the oil and gas sector for autonomous vessels, DW continued.

In conclusion, DW said that in the near term the military will remain the biggest user of AUVs due to their growing importance regarding surveillance, but that the oil and gas industry should also see an increase in the use of these vessels because they will remain integral to many research efforts.