ROV operator pioneer 3D-subsea modelling technology as industry chief urges sector to live with ‘lower for longer’ oil price

ROVCO 3-D image of sunken boat wreck
ROVCO 3-D image of sunken boat wreck

The newly-formed subsea services company Rovco has secured Innovate UK funding to carry out a full feasibility study into the advancement of underwater 3D modelling technology.

Once developed into a real-time inspection system this technology has the potential to revolutionise the way energy companies manage and inspect their subsea assets, potentially saving hundreds of millions of pounds in subsea inspection costs each year.

The project will be 70% supported by Innovate UK and the remaining 30% will be funded by Bristol-based Rovco.

But the 10-week old company is already looking ahead to securing further equity investment in the summer of 2017 as it looks to engage with subsea companies, software developers and universities across the country to become collaborative partners in the venture.

Innovate UK is the UK Government’s innovation agency. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to identify and drive forward the technology that will help grow the UK economy.

Brian Allen, Rovco chief executive, said: “3D Photogrammetry is a technique that produces accurately scaled, true colour models in three dimensions. 3D photogrammetry has been used extensively on land, but at Rovco we are taking this technology underwater to provide clients with a clearer picture of the subsea environment.

“There are many applications for 3D modelling but our clients will typically use it for assessing their subsea assets for damage, corrosion or determining levels of marine growth. 

“The feasibility study will allow us to begin the process of further developing real-time underwater modelling systems which can be deployed by ROVs or AUVs.

“High resolution 3D models of subsea assets and environments can then be generated, from which accurate measurements can be instantaneously captured

“As the subsea industry enters this new norm of a lower, for longer oil price, the need for innovative, cost reducing solutions that provide more meaningful data increases.

“By investing in this technology, we will be able to capture a true visual representation of the underwater world from which clients will be able to accurately estimate the remaining life of their subsea infrastructure and assess the integrity of their assets.

“At the same time vessel size and staff numbers can be reduced thereby saving costs and lowering associated risks.”

Neil Gordon
Neil Gordon

Meanwhile, amidst a growing industry realisation that lower oil and gas prices are here to stay, Subsea UK today urges the N. Sea industry to embrace the ‘new norm’ to safeguard the future of Britain’s £9 billion subsea sector.

Neil Gordon, Chief Executive of Subsea UK – whose members include ROVCO –  warned:

“Over the past two years, we have been hit by the worst global downturn in our history.

“The environment in which we operate has changed and it’s changed quite dramatically for us all. In the past, we’ve adjusted, reduced our costs, tightened our belts and made some tough decisions.

“However, this time it’s different. We need to do more, as sitting back and waiting for the oil price to rise again is not sufficient and neither is short-term cost cutting.

“We can’t ignore the real changes that are happening in the world. It’s time to step up to the plate, adapt to the new environment and adopt a fundamentally different mind-set. It’s vital that the industry takes a long-term approach – it’s about making things simpler, safer, and more efficient today to deliver lasting results for decades to come. 

“Innovation and continuous improvement will be the driving force of our future – it’s how we will increase the productivity of our sector by improving efficiency and adding real value to operations.”

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