Robots might be deployed on offshore oil drilling platforms in the future

January 1st, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Jan 1 (ANI): Research on the effectiveness of robots being deployed on offshore oil drilling platforms has begun in a laboratory in Norway, with actual installation being planned for 2015.

SINTEF scientists at Gloshaugen in Trondheim, Norway are carrying out the research.

A report in ENN states that the long-term plan of the research involves completely automated platforms in sea that only require control by human operators stationed on land, thus reducing both risks and costs.

Citing the significance of robotic machinery working on the platforms, Anders Royroy in StatoilHydro said, If we can automate our platforms, we will have an alternative to subsea platforms.

According to Royroy, both technologies are aimed at small and medium-sized fields which are not exploited today because it is not profitable to use normal manned platforms.

An automated platform doesn’t need personnel, and therefore neither does it need fire systems, sound insulation, catering or a whole range of other installations, said Royroy. Automated platforms also have another advantage: whereas subsea systems statistically only manage to recover about 45 percent of the oil or gas in a reservoir, a topside platform can take out almost 55 percent. And then, maintenance at the surface is much simpler,” he added.

Financed by Norsk Hydro, the research has already started to draw up a rough layout of a platform where only robots would be working. With an internal layout in the form of shelves, these platforms might look like hi-tech warehouses, with the robots moving up and down the rows of shelves like fork-lift trucks.

Though there are still many people who are sceptical to the idea of robots within SINTEF, the new technology will have to be sold within the company, via convincing demonstrations.

One important result has already come out of this research suggesting that the robots would be able to inspect the equipment on board the platform. Mounted on traversing beams, they will move around, listen, take photographs and make measurements.

Researchers have also been successful in making such an effective robot at the laboratory.

The robots arm is controlled by a human operator sitting at the control desk, who operates it via a mouse. It is even able to move down to the toolbox, where it picks up and connects a measurement device.

The robot has also connected a special instrument for measuring vibration and temperature to the end of its arm, and just a few seconds later the arm is pointing over the high protective fence and through the glass screen.

We are creating a robotised inspection system. This is something quite different from industrial robots that stand by a production line and perform a well-defined task over and over again, said SINTEF scientist Pal Liljeback. This system will make it simpler for the operator on shore to carry out operations that may not have been planned in advance,” he added.

The challenges lie in ensuring that the robots are capable of performing predefined and programmed tasks and are also able to function properly under unanticipated conditions, said Liljeback.

We are pleased with the results and the progress of the project, said Royroy. The next step after the technology has been handed over will be full-scale testing of certain parts of the system in order to see whether everything functions properly in its real environment, he added. (ANI)

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