Robotic craft could help oil and gas firms gather marine data

A new wave- and solar-powered robotic craft could help oil and gas companies gather more information on the seas around their operations.

Oil and gas technology specialist Schlumberger has partnered with Californian company Liquid Robotics to develop services that make use of the Wave Glider vehicles.

The joint venture will see Liquid Robotics provide fleets of Wave Gliders and relevant engineering, piloting and maintenance expertise that Schlumberger can combine with its established technology.

The Wave Glider could be used to carry instrumentation for measurement of the marine environment, Schlumberger spokesperson Stephen Whittaker told The Engineer via email.

‘Through the joint venture, Schlumberger industry expertise and Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider technology will help bring opportunities for new measurements and better understanding of the marine environment,’ he said.

‘As offshore oil and gas operations expand around the world, better knowledge of that environment will be crucial to safe and efficient exploration and production.’

Wave Gliders can operate off shore for up to a year without a crew, fuel or a dedicated support vessel. They can carry a variety of sensors and transmit data to shore via satellite as it is collected.

The system comprises a surface float resembling a surfboard with solar panels, which is attached via a cable to an underwater glider made up of a central spine with a series of protruding fins and a rudder at the end. As a wave causes the float to rise and fall, the fins on the glider move down and up, propelling the vehicle forward.

‘By teaming with Schlumberger, we can greatly accelerate the availability and worldwide deployment of innovative oil and gas solutions,’ said Bill Vass, chief executive officer of Liquid Robotics, in a statement.