Norwegian oil and gas company Aker BP has reached an agreement with DeepOcean to deploy an unmanned surface vessel (USV) for subsea inspection, maintenance and repair, and survey tasks (IMRS).

USV AS, which is a joint venture between DeepOcean, Solstad Offshore and Østensjø, will supply the unmanned vessels.

The first vessel is expected to be ready by 2025, when DeepOcean will charter it for eight years.

DeepOcean said Aker BP, which is focused on exploring the Norwegian Continental Shelf, participated in the development of the USV.

The USV will measure 7.5m in width by 24m in length and will be remotely operated from shore.

In addition to a sizeable tool set for subsea operations, the USV will be outfitted with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that can operate in water as deep as 1,500m, DeepOcean said.

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By GlobalData

The majority of the subsea inspection chores, survey tasks, and a sizeable portion of subsea intervention operations will be managed by the USV, it added.

DeepOcean claimed that with a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion engine and battery package, the USV will be able to operate offshore for up to 30 days without refuelling or charging.

When carrying out subsea inspection, maintenance and repair activities, the USV solution is expected to cut CO₂ emissions by more than 90% compared with a typical offshore vessel.

Aker BP and DeepOcean have a long-term goal of shifting 30% of IMRS work from conventional boats to USVs. 

Aker BP operations manager – subsea execution & survey Jarle Marius Solland said: “Once the USV is constructed, tested and ready for offshore operations, Aker BP looks forward to utilising it on our subsea fields. It is a smart solution that enables us to deploy well-known subsea technologies, but without bringing a large vessel or an unnecessary amount of personnel offshore.”

In September 2023, Aker BP formed a partnership with Höegh LNG to develop carbon transport and storage solutions for industrial CO₂ emitters in Northern Europe.