Managing Offshore Operations from an Offshore Command Center

Managing Offshore Operations from an Offshore Command Center
(Image credit: Oceaneering)

There are many benefits for transferring control of offshore ROV operations to shore to carry out subsea tasks from survey to inspection and commissioning.

Working from a remote onshore-based location eliminates offshore and transportation safety exposure for the shore-based team and allows for the transition from 12-hour operations to 24-hour without the need for additional personnel mobilization.

The flexibility provided by operating from Oceaneering’s Onshore Remote Operations Centers (OROCs) has been key to responding to unforeseen changes in the end users' operations. For example, subsea specialists are often required to go offshore, but typically spend several non-productive days on the asset waiting to conduct the operation for which they were needed, due to logistics and scheduling uncertainty. Remote piloting of ROV systems from shore eliminates this downtime and enables teams to optimize the use of specialist oversight, many times across multiple operations—all from a single location.  

Remote Piloting Technology Development and Opening of First OROC 

Oceaneering completed its first proof-of-concept remote piloting demonstration in 2004, when an ROV in the North Sea was controlled from our office in Stavanger, Norway.

In 2015, in response to increasing demand from customers to reduce offshore headcounts, Oceaneering opened its first OROC in Stavanger. This state-of-the-art facility has grown to include five operations rooms, allowing simultaneous operation of up to six ROV systems offshore, as well as providing office and lounge facilities for visiting customers. There are plans to add two additional operating rooms due to rising demand. 

A key enabler for remote piloting from the Stavanger OROC is the extensive LTE data network established in the North Sea. This high bandwidth, low latency data network is ideal for remote operations. All but two percent of remote activity in the North Sea has been executed using the LTE network, demonstrating the coverage’s reliability. Offshore LTE networks are now appearing in other regions, including the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), Canada, Guyana, and Brazil. Starlink satellites will further enhance offshore connectivity and we plan to begin testing and qualifications as soon as it is available.

Cross-border Remote Piloting 

In the summer of 2021, Oceaneering worked with a client in the UK to successfully conduct the first onshore remote piloting of an ROV offshore West of Shetland. It was also the first commercial cross-border implementation due to the pilots being stationed in our Stavanger OROC. 

Oceaneering and the client worked together to ensure secure offshore connectivity for the remote operations. This involved close collaboration between Oceaneering and the client to establish a bridge between the data networks of both companies, without compromising their respective cyber security policies. The result of the collaboration established a secure data link via subsea optical fiber to the worksite offshore. 

Oceaneering was tasked with observing drilling operations at 141 m water depth. The Stavanger-based team operated the ROV for over 70 hours during the campaign program with 100% uptime. 

Regional Expansion and Redundancy 

In 2020, a second OROC facility was opened in Morgan City, Louisiana, with the capacity to support simultaneous operation of up to four ROV systems. Its primary function is to support remote ROV operations in North and South America. However, the facility offers important redundancy for remote ROV operations, as each of our OROCs can quickly assume the duties of its counterpart in the event of unexpected power or data outages. 

In 2021, the Morgan City OROC conducted the first commercial remote piloting of an ROV in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) using the customer’s existing data communications infrastructure, which included a high-speed microwave link to a tension leg platform (TLP) offshore. 

A proprietary remote piloting package was installed by the ROV crew onboard the asset in the GoM. This package established a secure communications link to shore, which was used to transmit video, audio, and control data. By using OROC-based pilots, the customer successfully completed the work scope while reducing overall headcount offshore, thereby reducing HSE exposure and offshore mobilizations.

In the summer of 2022, Oceaneering carried out a successful remote inspection scope in the GoM for a pipeline operator, leveraging the expanding and improved LTE coverage in the region. The customer approached Oceaneering to complete an inspection scope that included remotely collecting cathodic protection (CP) readings of their subsea assets.

The Oceaneering team used the Brandon Bordelon multi-service vessel to launch a Millennium® Plus ROV system equipped with a manipulator-held CP reading tool. The customer’s representatives witnessed the operation from the Morgan City OROC. All activities were streamed and made available to approved global viewers via Oceaneering’s Media Vault cloud-based data management solution.

The data gathered confirmed the integrity of the inspected subsea assets, and further confirmed the viability of using LTE to support remote operations in the GoM.

In Q4 2022, Oceaneering plans to open a third OROC facility in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Training for the New Way of Working 

Remote operation of an ROV introduces new challenges for pilots, in particular the added latency inherent in long-distance data links. As a result, Oceaneering developed a competency program that teaches pilots how to: 

  • Mitigate the effects of latency 
  • Safely pass control between local and remote consoles 
  • Collaborate on control e.g., one pilot flies and the other operates manipulator 
  • Effectively communicate when not co-located 
  • Safely manage unexpected loss of communication. 


Collaboration between service companies and operators has led to the successful implementation of remote ROV operations in Europe and the US GoM. This approach has brought benefits such as reducing HSE exposure to personnel and providing leadership in operations that are now the norm.  

The biggest challenge in moving ROV control to an onshore facility has historically been the data communications path. Communications infrastructure offshore has greatly improved over the past 10 years, with optical fiber cables and LTE networks becoming more widely available, especially in the North Sea and GoM. On projects where existing communications infrastructure is insufficient, Oceaneering can install a fully redundant satellite agnostic intelligent link (SAIL) to ensure 99.9% uptime for data communications.  

As a result of this connectivity, remote operations have grown exponentially over the past three years and Oceaneering recently surpassed the significant milestone of 85,000 hours of remote ROV operations, with half of this total occurring in 2021 alone. It means Oceaneering Remote Operations has moved 7,083 offshore personnel days to onshore, contributing to a significant reduction in personnel on board (POB) for our customers.

Oceaneering remains focused on advancing ROV and automated vehicle systems to realize a reduced carbon future. Remote operations play an important part in lowering carbon footprints associated with offshore energy generation. Our Liberty™ E-ROV and Freedom™ AUV systems further the goals of streamlining mobilization, reducing HSE risks to personnel, reducing environment footprint, and making subsea work more efficient. Furthermore, we continue to advance a new generation of ROVs designed specifically with remote operations in mind.  

With our investment in technology and facilities, Oceaneering is fully committed to maintaining its position as the leading provider of remote ROV and Survey services. 

To read the full article, which was featured in ON&T August 2022, click here.


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