Equinor has awarded Saipem a ten-year subsea service contract, which entails the use of the latter’s Underwater Intervention Drone (UID) Hydrone-R and the all-electric Work Class ROV Hydrone-W in the Njord Field development, offshore Norway.

Valued at €40m, the contract has five two-year options for additional extension.

Equinor said that it will be the first user to start using the technology once the Njord field in the Norwegian Sea resumes production in 2020. The technology will help reduce carbon footprint and also response time.

Equinor Technology, Projects & Drilling executive vice-president Anders Opedal said: “This is a historic contract in the oil and gas industry. It is the first contract signed for the use of advanced wireless drone services.”

According to Equinor, the Hydrone-R may be autonomous below Njord field for months between scheduled maintenance, whereas Hydrone-W will be connected to the platform as that of a traditional ROV. The company noted that both the drones are electric and can be operated without a surface vessel as well as with minimal environmental impact.

Saipem E&C Offshore Division COO Francesco Racheli said: “The Hydrone Program is the culmination of years of hard work and a perfect example of Saipem’s commitment in technology, constantly seeking solutions which intelligently combine HSE excellence, industry demand, innovation and operational efficiency.”

The Hydrone Program is executed entirely by Saipem’s business line for Life of Field, Underwater Technology and Subsea Processing, Sonsub.