Italian offshore services player Saipem has been awarded a contract by Shell and Petrobras for inspection campaigns of two ultra-deepwater fields offshore Brazil utilising a subsea drone dubbed FlatFish. The drone is a remotely-controlled subsea-resident autonomous underwater unit able to perform inspection tasks of a wide range of underwater assets. Since 2018, Shell has entrusted Saipem with the license to develop the technology.
Saipem said the pilot projects fall within the framework of the research and development programme of ANP, the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels, with the aim to qualify the drone for unmanned, vessel-free inspections in support of monitoring and maintenance campaigns of subsea infrastructures.
The drone has gone through the industrialisation phase with the ultimate objective of unlocking deepwater operations in over 2,000 m depth for this particular contract and enhancing its artificial intelligence-based features as well as its navigation and monitoring capabilities, Saipem noted.
The activities will be led by Sonsub, Saipem’s centre of excellence for underwater technologies and robotics, over a timeframe of around 12 months. The drone is expected to be deployed within Brazilian waters in the third quarter of 2022, following intermediate shallow water trials at Saipem’s base in Trieste, Italy.