Oceaneering Enables ROV Operations in Extreme Sea States and Currents in South Africa

Innovative bend restrictor design supports project execution in severe currents and wave heights

1 Project Overview

The Agulhas Current flows south along Africa’s east coast and forms the western boundary of the southwest Indian Ocean.

It is narrow, swift, and strong. It is often identified as the second swiftest current in the world, reaching more than 6 knots surface speed. Further complexities are added by combining the currents with significant wave heights of up to 6 m.

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) often struggle to perform in this geographic region and are subject to operational downtime due to the environmental conditions. They are also continually at risk of being damaged during operations. Oceaneering leveraged its extensive ROV and Engineering expertise to design a bend restrictor solution to enable operations in severe currents and wave heights.

2 Challenge

Drilling operations in the area are performed by a vessel equipped with a harsh environment ROV hangar system.

Despite specialized infrastructure on the vessel, a significant challenge during high current operations is the ROV system drift-off during launch and recovery. The drift-off creates severe side loadings on the ROV’s control umbilical through the surface guide system. Side loading causes damage to the umbilical’s steel armoring and internal conductors and could risk the umbilical coming out of the sheave groove.

3 Our Solution

To mitigate damage to the ROV umbilical, Oceaneering designed an innovative rotary bend restrictor solution capable of adapting to the direction of the current.

Designed using field-specific metocean data and our experience with ROV operations in harsh conditions, a global team collaborated to develop the hardware.

A common misconception is that cursor-based systems can enhance operational capability in both high current and high wave conditions. In fact, these types of systems are limited to helping in high wave conditions. Our engineering team was able to convince stakeholders of the benefits of the proposed retrofit solution and its ability to mitigate risk introduced by high current conditions.

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4 Execution Plan

The bend restrictor was designed, prefabricated, and tested onshore before installation onboard the rig.

Operational testing, including acceptance testing, was completed before the bend restrictor was approved for operations. The development process was completed in three months and the modification to install the bend restrictor was completed during the full winterization of the Oceaneering Magnum® 229 ROV facilities onboard the vessel.

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5 Results

Oceaneering proactively worked with the customer to safeguard ROV operations by studying the environmental conditions from metocean data, identifying the specific operational risks, and designing a solution to successfully mitigate the risk.

The customer had previously experienced ROV-deployment system failures on the rig and we were able to engineer a solution to overcome these issues, enabling them to eliminate ROV downtime and consequent rig downtime. The campaign was completed successfully in two successive summers.

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Company page Since our founding in the early 1960s, Oceaneering has expanded and grown globally to service several industries such as the offshore energy industry, defense, entertainment, material handling, aerospace, science, and renewable energy industries. In 1964, Mike Hughes and Johnny Johnson formed a Gulf of Mexico diving company called World Wide Divers. The company grew in response to increasing demand for their services and in 1969 merged with two other diving companies to form Oceaneering International, Inc. To solve the toughest challenges, we do things differently, creatively, and smarter. As your trusted partner, our unmatched experience and truly innovative portfolio of technologies and solutions give us the flexibility to adapt and evolve, regardless of market conditions. Our mission is to solve the unsolvable. We thrive by creating industry-changing technically creative solutions for the most complex operational challenges under water, on land, and in space. Our five core values establish a common culture and demonstrate what is most important for us as a company. Since the beginning, the company has transformed from a small regional diving company into a global provider of engineered products and services. Today, we develop products and services for use throughout the lifecycle of an offshore oilfield, from drilling to decommissioning. We operate the world's premier fleet of work class ROVs. Additionally, we are a leader in offshore oilfield maintenance services, umbilicals, subsea hardware, and tooling. We also serve the aerospace, defense, and theme park industries. Underpinning everything we do, safety is not only the foundation of our core values, but it is vital to our unmatched performance record and company culture. The industries we serve are as diverse as they are complex. Whether we are engineering deepwater umbilicals or developing robotics for aerospace applications, the safety and health of our employees, vendors, and customers is an integral part of our day-to-day business. If we are working, then our responsibility is to be working safely. Since our inception in 1964, we have placed a high value on employee safety—from diving services and subsea inspection to vessel-based installation operations. We have and will continue to evolve not only our health, safety, and environmental (HSE) processes, but those of the industries in which we work. Although we have been fatality-free since 1999, our HSE journey goes beyond statistics. As our portfolio of services has grown, we have continued to prioritize and advance our approach to HSE.