Smart Monitoring Solution for Sage & Cost-Efficient Offshore Operations

Offshore energy assets are, by their nature, expensive to maintain. Traditionally, operators perform regular ROV inspections to monitor the condition of subsea infrastructure in a timely and controlled manner.

The ongoing integrity management of wellheads, risers, mooring lines, subsea spools and manifolds, as well as the monitoring of pipelines and other subsea structures that support offshore energy platforms, makes tracking existing data a challenge. These methods lack efficiency and cost the operator critical time and spend.

To improve these methods, the industry has increasingly turned to digitalization to make data-informed decisions that measurably reduce risk and costs. For 4Subsea, this has culminated in the development of smart sensors that have accelerated the utility and reliability of digital twins.

The technology has been developed to perform the most challenging of engineering tasks. By providing data to track integrity status, inform key decision-making, and reduce the need for regular ROV inspections, smart sensor technology can extend the lifetime of assets beyond design life.


Digital twin technology provides early warning and improved accuracy in structural health monitoring than traditional analyses, and its use has grown exponentially over the last decade.

Last year, 4Subsea hit a milestone of successfully completing more than 300 measurement campaigns across the North Sea following the launch of its digital twin technology, significantly increasing uptime and mitigating risk during well operations.

The SWIM™ (Subsea Wellhead Integrity Monitoring) system employs retrofittable subsea sensors to monitor and measure stability, load, fatigue, and structural integrity of the wellhead system during drilling operations. It utilizes autonomous sensors with a battery life of up to five years and can operate in water depths down to 3,000 meters.

Since it was first tested in 2010, the technology has identified wellhead integrity issues, such as shallow gas and water, conductor stability issues related to wash-out or fatigue challenges, on nearly a third (30%) of exploration and satellite wells monitored in depths less than 150 meters.

In its first five years of operation, SWIM™ performed around 80 measurement campaigns. This has grown three-fold since 2015, with over 250 campaigns successfully completed across the UK and Norwegian continental shelves.


4Subsea expects the steep escalation to continue as the industry puts more trust in digital twin technology and the financial, logistical and environmental benefits it brings.

Advanced algorithms, combined with deep domain expertise, are used to analyze fatigue damage accumulation, well support and structural integrity on conductors, wellheads, BOPs and Christmas trees up to the floating drill rig. This critical data can be used to assess performance, provide prediction analysis and, importantly, rapidly inform decision-making to reduce risk and cost.

Data is shared in real-time via a user-friendly web application that is easily accessible to the rig crew and the onshore support team. In addition, measured data is securely stored and can be re-used for future model calibration.

Combining expert engineering and operational experience offers an industry-leading digital service, including advanced autonomous, retrofit sensor technology.

With SWIM™, operators can re-use critical wells and maximize the lifetime of wellheads by scheduling drilling operations based on well criticality, historically accumulated load on wellheads, and predictive models. The predictive models estimate the expected load on the wellheads from future planned drilling and intervention operations.

4Subsea has also developed the SWIM™ Live app, which provides live data streaming from sensors installed on the BOP and lower flex joint through integration with the BOP MUX umbilical. This allows real-time updates and the ability to optimize operations with instant insight.


To measure the dynamic strain of offshore wind turbines with high resolution and accuracy, 4Subsea has developed a new autonomous sensor that reduces the cost of operations and maximizes the life of offshore assets.

Unlike regular strain gage installations, 4Subsea’s Smart Monitoring Sensor (SMS) Strain™ is an autonomous, retrofittable sensor that can be installed without special requirements such as the use of specialized technicians, equipment, or a clean environment. In addition, the technology can easily be installed by hand on the turbine tower or using divers or ROV for subsea installation, for instance, on the substructure.

SMS Strain™ is the latest of 4Subsea’s autonomous sensors that help asset owners reduce the cost of operations and maximize life of assets when combined with data analytics and engineering specialists within the company. SMS Strain™ is the sixth sensor in 4Subsea’s sensor product line, adding new capabilities to the company’s existing offering that includes SMS Motion™, SMS Magic Hand™, SMS Gateway™, SMS ComCentral™ and SMS Guard™.

SMS Strain™ has extremely low power consumption, enabling continuous logging and data storage at 10 Hz sampling frequency for a full 12 months.

The SMS Strain™ sensors can be cabled to motion sensors like the SMS Gateway™ (topside) or SMS Motion™ (subsea) to provide fully synchronized strain and motion data. This gives a unique opportunity to assess structural loads in correlation with deflections and response frequencies which are critical parameters in wind turbine design. Furthermore, the sensors are made as true IoT sensors where that given access to power and the internet, they will automatically start sending data to the cloud where the data is processed, and insight from the data can be visualized to the customers.

The addition of SMS Strain™ has allowed 4Subsea to further simplify the complexity of the challenges faced by clients in providing informed data to develop optimal, tailor-made solutions. The sooner clients know the status of their asset, the larger the range of available options to either optimize or mitigate the findings. The key to unlocking this knowledge is increased understanding, which sensors deliver.

As the industry drives towards renewables, 4Subsea has seen accelerated growth within the wind energy sector, where their technology can be used to extend the service life of existing wind farms while helping to reduce operational costs. As the sector transitions to larger turbines in deeper waters and subsequently into floating turbines, the complexity increases.

This will increase the need for advanced analytical capabilities and the need for smart monitoring solutions to ensure safe and cost-efficient operations.

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This feature originally appeared in Ocean News & Technology’s Magazine March 2022 edition—21st Century Marine Survey. To read more, access the magazine here. 

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