Oceaneering Conducts Freedom AUV Pipeline Inspection Pilot for TotalEnergies

(Image credit: Oceaneering)

TotalEnergies and Oceaneering International, Inc. announced that the Freedom™ Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) has completed a Pipeline Inspection Industrial Pilot, demonstrating its capabilities for sustainable commercial pipeline inspection missions.

The capabilities observed during the pilot delivered on the ambition of TotalEnergies to reduce the environmental impact while assuring the integrity of sub-marine pipelines, contributing to TotalEnergies ambition to be Net Zero by 2050, together with society. The application of the technology represents a reduction in time, and emissions, of an estimated 50% compared to existing methods with equivalent quality of the inspection and opportunity to exceed data quality provision through continuous improvement.

The North Sea pilot for TotalEnergies resulted in an inspection of over 120 km of sub-marine pipelines, to add to 60 km of near-shore pipelines inspected during an earlier demonstration for TotalEnergies. Freedom demonstrated its ability to detect and track the pipeline while maintaining a defined flight envelope above the pipe. Utilizing the onboard adaptive behaviors, developed to provide additional insights into subsea features, Freedom demonstrated that it is capable of performing high quality operations, with the required data gathered in a single pass of the pipelines.

The onboard autonomous capabilities, together with high specification instruments—including a laser scanning system and multibeam sonar technology—result in a detailed external inspection of subsea pipeline features. Autonomous pipeline tracking capability ensures Freedom remained directly above the pipeline at low altitudes, providing a detailed external view of the pipelines and the surrounding seafloor.

On completion of the pipeline inspection missions, onboard automated data processing allowed the assessment of the mission effectiveness and the confirmation of pipeline condition in collaboration with TotalEnergies. Freedom provides high quality data sets at a significantly increased speed compared with legacy ROV pipeline inspection methods.

Alan Anderson, Subsea Robotics Product Manager, Oceaneering, said: “TotalEnergies specifically designed the project to place challenging demands on Freedom to not only gather the required data, but also allow the Oceaneering team to demonstrate the step change in inspection performance. Freedom’s ability to conduct rapid pipeline inspection reduces the time required to conduct these operations, providing a cost-effective solution for our customers that also contributes towards reducing CO2 emissions.”

Andy Gower, R&D Subsea Robotics Project Lead, TotalEnergies, added: “The development of autonomous capabilities and the deployment of AUVs is an important part of reducing the impact of using large vessels to conduct Inspection, Maintenance, and Repair (IMR) activities. The capabilities of the Freedom AUV offer the opportunity to conduct wider ranging missions in both our current and future projects, including Offshore Wind, with the potential for integration with lighter uncrewed surface vessel support to reduce the environmental impact even further.”

Freedom, a hybrid AUV/ROV system, is the result of a long-term collaborative relationship between Oceaneering, TotalEnergies, and Chevron dating back to 2014, with Equinor joining the collaboration in 2019.

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