Shell’s Norwegian gas field pioneers remote data harvesting
Sonardyne, working with XOCEAN’s uncrewed surface vehicles (USV), has delivered remote acoustic data harvesting services to Shell at its Ormen Lange gas field in the Norwegian Sea that does not have conventional surface operation platforms.
Without surface platforms, acoustic data from the subsea sensors had to be harvested by crewed vessels in the early years of the field’s operation, which was costly, carbon-heavy and posed a risk to personnel in often challenging sea conditions, Sonardyne explained.
With its Powering Progress strategy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, Shell was looking for an alternative data harvest method that would reduce cost and risk as well as its carbon footprint.
Sonardyne said that the proposal was to use its HPT 3000 transceiver, mounted to an XOCEAN USV, to remotely harvest data from the 75 seabed pressure monitoring transponders (PMTs), as it was perfect in terms of size, weight and power for deployment from a USV and can communicate with seabed transponders at depths up to 995 meters or 4,000 meters with an extended range version.
Following the PMT installation in 2019, a five-year project was agreed in which Sonardyne would be responsible for the data delivery to Shell and XOCEAN for delivering the transceiver to the field for data collection via its USV.
The project began in January 2020 and represented the first time a remote USV data harvest was completed offshore Norway by any operator.
According to Sonardyne, the data harvest was monitored in real-time, 24/7 and the Sonardyne and XOCEAN teams were in contact with each other as well as the remote equipment. Data harvests have been conducted yearly since 2020 and this year data was collected twice, in spring and autumn.
“Transforming how data is harvested at the Ormen Lange site and the on-going success of this project demonstrates the current and future potential of marine robotics in offshore operations. Moving from crewed to uncrewed vessels for such operations enables the drive to reduce carbon emissions in marine industries,” said Aidan Thorn, Business Development Manager – Marine Robotics at Sonardyne.
“Similar remote data collection solutions can be realised in any marine operation that requires long-term data collection. Where Sonardyne communications are built into seabed sensors we can communicate with them using instruments fitted to marine robotic platforms.”
Shell’s Ormen Lange gas field is located 120 kilometers off the coast of Norway and is said to be the country’s second-largest gas producer.
Built on the site close to Storegga, a major landslide that occurred some 8,000 years ago, about 5 million tonnes of rock was used to prepare the seabed for subsea equipment back in 2005.
Production started in 2007 from two subsea templates in the central part of the field. In 2009 and 2011, two additional templates were installed in the southern and northern parts of the field, respectively. An amended PDO for subsea gas compression was approved in 2022.
“In Shell we are always looking for new, innovative ways of working that can reduce risk to both people, assets and the environment. uncrewed surface vessels have proven a highly suitable vessel for downloading PMTs. Carbon emissions are reduced to almost zero, and we don’t need to send people offshore anymore for the downloads. Considering the long distance from shore to field and the often unstable weather conditions in the area, solid planning and vessel management is essential,” said Egil Syre, Project Manager at Norske Shell.