The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has awarded a contract worth $3.49m (NOK37m) to offshore service company Argeo to provide deep-sea survey work.

Under the eight-week contract, Argeo will carry out deep-sea surveys including multi-sensor data acquisition with autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to further assess mineral resource potential in the northern part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (Knipovich Ridge).

The scope of work includes high-resolution, near-seafloor geophysical and environmental data acquisition for deep-sea minerals exploration in the Knipovich Ridge.

The acquisition project is due to be carried out during the summer of 2023.

To meet the requirements of the NPD, Argeo plans to deploy its two high-specification ultra-deepwater SeaRaptor AUVs, and the subsea vessel Argeo Searcher.

Argeo CEO Trond Crantz said: “Advanced sensor technology delivering actionable data is key for enabling the development of the emerging marine minerals industry. Argeo offer the technology, software and industry expertise to meet this market.”

Argeo owns a fleet of four AUVs featuring integrated electro-magnetic sensor technology, Argeo Listen and Argeo Whisper.

They are designed to deliver high-quality data, from environmental impact assessment and early exploration to resource assessment and extraction monitoring.

The collected data is processed using postprocessing and mosaicing software aboard the AUV to allow improved decision-making and quick turnaround during missions.

In a press statement, Argeo said: “Argeo’s marine minerals solution has been developed to deliver high-quality pelagic, benthic, and subsurface data that are key in addressing the challenges of remoteness and scale, complex geological settings, as well as environmental sensitivity associated with deep-sea mineral deposits.”