Italian oilfield services and technology company Saipem will provide its FlatFish subsea drone for Shell's and Petrobras' ultra-deepwater projects in Brazil.
Under the contract, Shell and Petrobras will use Saipem's FlatFish subsea drone in two pilot projects encompassing the inspection campaigns of two ultra-deepwater fields offshore Brazil.
These two projects with Shell and Petrobras are pilots and fall within the framework of the research and development program of ANP, the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels. The target is to qualify the drone to execute unmanned, vessel-free inspections to support the monitoring and maintenance campaigns of the subsea infrastructures, Saipem said.
"In particular, Saipem implemented the FlatFish drone through the industrialization phase with the ultimate objective of unlocking deepwater operations, in over 2,000-meter depth for this particular contract, enhancing its artificial intelligence-based features as well as its navigation and monitoring capabilities," Saipem said.
The activities will be led by Sonsub, Saipem’s center of excellence for underwater technologies and robotics, over a timeframe of approximately 12 months.
During the first phase intermediate tests in shallow water will be executed at Saipem’s base in Trieste, Italy, with the support of Sonsub’s engineering department in Brazil. The second phase will see the drone’s deployment within Brazilian waters in the third quarter of 2022.
According to Saipem, FlatFish is a remotely-controlled subsea-resident autonomous underwater drone able to perform complex inspection tasks of a wide range of underwater assets. Since 2018, Shell has entrusted Saipem with the license to develop the FlatFish Technology.
The technology was previously developed by SENAI CIMATEC, a Brazilian research institute, in partnership with DFKI, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, and funded by the R&D program of ANP (Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels) and EMBRAPII (Brazilian Company of Research and Industrial Innovation).