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BP hires remote-controlled boats for ‘groundbreaking’ North Sea projects

An unmanned surface vehicle at BP's Aberdeen HQ.
An unmanned surface vehicle at BP's Aberdeen HQ.

BP has employed the use of remote-controlled boats for a “groundbreaking” inspection project in the North Sea.

The energy giant employed XOCEAN, an Irish based firm with a fleet of Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) for a series of missions based out of Peterhead.

In April, XOCEAN completed a five-day data harvesting “mission” from an array of subsea sensors, with a USV then launching from Peterhead to a BP site 128 nautical miles offshore in the Central North Sea.

The firm then carried out two shallow water pipeline inspections using USVs for BP off the coast of Scotland.

XOCEAN’s XO-450 USV at sea.

Craig Allinson, survey and positioning lead for BP North Sea, said: ““BP was delighted to use this technology which helped to reduce operational risk and improve efficiency. We believe the ‘over the horizon’ operation of the USV is a first for our industry.”

Founded in 2017, XOCEAN recently opened a technical centre and global control room in Ireland.

The company aims to have a fleet of 100 USVs within three years.

Eric Primeau, senior technology specialist at BP said “These ground-breaking projects demonstrate the versatility of this system for ‘over the horizon’ operations delivering environmentally low impact and cost-efficient data acquisition without compromising safety.”

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