Norwegian contractor Reach Subsea has introduced new and future-proof, sustainable solution for subsea services.
The project, named Reach Remote, is a cooperation with industrial partners Kongsberg Maritime and Massterly, and also gets support from Innovation Norway.
The first stage of Reach Remote is to introduce unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) dedicated to survey, inspection, as well as light repair projects.
These USVs will serve as mobile power banks, data centres and communication modules for underwater ROVs (remotely operated vehicles), with both the USVs and ROVs operated from an onshore control centre. Features for both real time operator control and autonomous operations will be incorporated, as well as hybrid modes blending remote and semi-autonomous control.
The goal is to be in the market with the first two USVs in 2022, with the ambition of providing a full portfolio of subsea services from a low-emission, cost-effective remote and autonomous fleet by 2025.
With Reach Remote, the company aims to become a preferred supplier of survey, inspection, and light repair services to the offshore wind industry. It will also target aquaculture, subsea mining, and environmental surveillance.
Technology is enabling a radical redesign of ROV operations: shifting from a capital- and personnel-intensive setup operated from larger, energy-intensive offshore vessels towards a lean remote and autonomous platform, with certified personnel located onshore.
Currently, Reach provides its subsea services from six vessels. A typical Reach project today will involve some 30-50 personnel onboard a subsea vessel.
With Reach Remote, the same project can take place with a much smaller, more fuel-efficient vessel and one third of the personnel, who will be located onshore without exposure to offshore operational risks.
This is revolutionary in terms of cost efficiency and enhanced safety and will drastically reduce the CO2 footprint of this type of operation.
The key benefits of Reach Remote
- More than 90% reduction in CO2 and NOx emissions;
- Virtual elimination of the personnel risk associated with offshore operations;
- Significant reductions in the cost of subsea survey and inspection services;
The company is evaluating financing the construction of Reach Remote, which may involve new equity, new debt, industrial partnerships, or a combination thereof.
Tom Eystø, CEO of Massterly – a Kongsberg Wilhelmsen joint venture – said: “The unmanned vessels will be operated from our Remote Operations Centre, manned with certified maritime personnel. The Remote Operations Centre will also serve other innovative customers like ASKO, who has two autonomous vessels under construction for delivery in 2022. By uniting the competencies from Massterly’s two owners, Kongsberg Maritime and Wilhelmsen, we are in a unique position to deliver future-proof services to Reach Subsea.”
Jostein Alendal, CEO of Reach Subsea, also stated: “Based on the massive feedback and interest we experience from our clients, we believe the timing is right to introduce Reach Remote to the market. Even though the transition from manned to unmanned needs some time it is realistic to aim for a fleet of at least 10 USVs as early as 2025 in our worldwide operations. Unmanned and carbon neutral offshore operations is a bold ambition, but with right team and the right partners we believe this ambition is achievable.”
Reach Remote main design features
The Reach Remote project uses a USV in conjunction with a next-generation ROV in an innovative solution which will transform the current market for ROV survey and inspection services. The Reach Remote USV design philosophy is based on a few key drivers which are instrumental in the total solution. The main design features are:
Dedicated unmanned, self-propelled remotely and autonomously operated ROV mother vessel of approximately 25 metres overall length;
Robust maritime and subsea equipment with high reliability and long maintenance intervals;
Onshore control room facilities for both marine and ROV operations;
Semi-autonomous ROV for survey and inspection tasks;
Hull-mounted survey sensors;
Optimised hydrodynamic properties for excellent data acquisition and subsea positioning performance;
Focused on ROV operability in an extended weather window vs. peers.
The USV solution has been optimised for very low energy consumption and a minimal carbon footprint. The current design is based on a redundant hybrid electric configuration and will be capable of 30 days or more endurance for most operations, ensuring efficiency and operational flexibility.