Oil and gas fields are present beneath inland water bodies as well as offshore. Exploring, drilling, and development of these oil and gas fields from the underwater locations is crucial to meet the ever-growing demand for these resources.
Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are very useful in the oil and gas industry. They are robotic machines that can travel underwater to help with various activities related to subsea exploration and development.
Why do we need ROVs?
Divers exploring subsea environments for the oil and gas industry has its limitations. For one, there are risks involved. Secondly, going too deep inside the water might not be possible. Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are the solution to these problems. They make it possible to access the areas unreachable by divers. More complex exploration and development activities can be carried out with the help of ROVs.
Repairs of subsea equipment would earlier require divers to venture deep below to examine the systems. However, this also comes with its limitations due to poor visibility and safety issues. Water currents, depth of the water, and subsea temperatures also pose serious challenges to underwater repairs. ROVs can even be used for repairs of equipment underwater making the operation and maintenance of subsea equipment easier.
How do ROVs work?
ROVs for subsea activities have been seeing a lot of development since 1990 when highly capable ROVs started being used. ROVs remain floating in water due to the integrated buoyancy units built into them.
Today, we have modern ROVs that are submerged in the water in a cage also known as a ‘garage’. The ROVs are tethered to the garage by an umbilical. When required, they are let out of the cage. They can travel for up to a hundred feet while still being tethered to the cage. An operator, also known as a pilot, can control the ROV to get the desired work done and also ensure that the ROV isn’t entangled in its own umbilical.
There are two types of ROVs:
1. Work class ROVs:
These ROVs are used to perform several tasks. They have mechanical arms called manipulators to do these tasks. The arms have variable strengths and capabilities with some arms being capable of lifting actions too. They can also be used to repair underwater equipment. They are powered electrically or hydraulically.
The Heavy Work Class ROVs are the most advanced ROVs that are suitable to perform various mechanical tasks underwater. They can traverse 3000 meters deep inside water and have horsepower ranging from 100 to 150. They also come with lifting capabilities of up to 11,000 pounds. They have multiple manipulators and grabbers to perform a range of subsea operations.
2. Observational class ROVs:
These ROVs, also known as OBSROVs, have visual and recording capabilities. They can transmit real-time visuals from under the water. They are used for surveying and inspections. OBSROVs come in different sizes suitable for different operations. With visual and mechanical capabilities, they are the ‘eyes and hands’ underwater.
Small Electric Vehicles are tiny ROVs that are primarily used for inspection purposes but they have a reach of up to 300 meters underwater. High Capability Electric ROVs are bigger in size, but usually come equipped with just a camera for visuals and recording. However, they have better reach and can travel up to 6096 meters underwater.
The importance of ROVs in the Oil & Gas industry.
ROVs have now become almost indispensable in the oil and gas industry. With a rise in the installation of underwater infrastructure for oil and gas field development, ROVs have become integral to the operations. A report released by Mordor Intelligence has shown sustained growth in the demand for ROVs in the global markets. With the rise in the demand for ROVs, there is also a growth in the need for related services and components.
How does Bulgin help in improving ROV operations?
Bulgin provides components that can withstand extreme subsea conditions and keep connections intact and reliable. The ROV Tether Connector from Bulgin helps reduce cable termination time and potential downtime for subsea operations.