Photo: Helix Producer-1 S, Source: Helix Energy Solutions, credits to Robert Almeida.

Multiple vessels working in energy sport Sonardyne hybrid positioning tech

Sonardyne has received multiple orders for its hybrid acoustic and inertial position reference systems to be installed on a number of deepwater vessels operating in the energy and ocean research sectors.

Offshore drilling contractor Noble Drilling ordered a 6G upgrade to the Marksman system onboard its Noble Globetrotter II, adding two HPT 7000s to the vessel, as well as Compatt 6+ transponders for its vessel seabed array inventory and for wireless underwater marine riser flex joint monitoring.

The DP-INS system onboard Helix Energy Solution’s Helix Producer-1 floating production system has also been upgraded to 6G. The vessel is operating on the Phoenix and Tornado field in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico for Talos Energy.

Furthermore, two deepwater drillships owned by a Brazilian drilling company were fitted with the new technology, and another rig operator in Brazil ordered a 6G upgrade for the Marksman system onboard its 6th generation deepwater semi-submersible rig.

An Asia-based scientific drilling ship recently completed a Marksman DP-INS 6G upgrade. Sonardyne’s Marksman LUSBL technology was first installed on the vessel in 2005 and this was upgraded to DP-INS with Sonardyne’s 5G hardware in 2012.

A U.S.-based marine contractor has also ordered a Marksman 6G upgrade kit system to DP-INS to improve its vessel DP capability, especially when GNSS positioning is unstable or masked by nearby platforms.

“Vessel utilisation rates have been rising steadily over the past 12 months, providing vessel owners and operators with the confidence to invest now in technologies that will deliver long-term operational efficiency gains,” said Andre Moura, sales and application manager at Sonardyne in Brazil.

“Marksman DP-INS is one of those technologies; it’s mature a field proven technology which can be installed in the field and addresses industry’s need for a third, independent DP reference.”

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According to Sonardyne, Marksman DP-INS improves vessel positioning performance by exploiting the long-term accuracy of the Wideband acoustic signal technology with high integrity, high update rate inertial measurements.

The resulting navigation output is capable of riding-through short-term acoustic disruptions associated with deepwater drilling and is completely independent from GNSS so can be considered as a third, independent reference for DP Class 3 vessels.

The system uses a combination of single or dual redundant surface transceivers, Sonardyne’s own vessel-based INS sensor and Long Baseline (LBL) seafloor transponders. However, unlike conventional LBL operations, Marksman DP-INS does not need a full seabed array of transponders to be installed and calibrated before subsea operations can commence, the company said.

For most subsea tasks, positioning specifications can be met with only one or two transponders deployed on the seabed. Additionally, as the system needs only occasional aiding from the acoustics, transponder battery life is substantially increased so the need to task an ROV to deploy and recover transponders for servicing is reduced.