Increasingly we are seeing different types of robotics applications being used throughout the energy supply chain. Such robots can range from remote control drones doing simple repetitive automated tasks to advanced artificial intelligence-equipped robots doing complex jobs.
In the oil and gas industry, the use of robots, whether fixed or mobile, is not new, as such devices were introduced to a lesser extent in the 1970s. Today, however, we are beginning to see highly advanced applications of such robotics being used.
A pioneer of such technology has been Norway, as part of a joint European Union efforts under a funding and research plan known as EUMarineRobots to develop such robotics technology. In Norway, organizations include Equinor, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), Norsk NUI as and the Kongsberg Group are involved in the effort.
Norway is mainland’s Europe second-largest supplier of piped natural gas after Russia, supplying about 25% of the EU demand. The current total length of the Norwegian gas pipeline network is about 5,470 miles (8,800 km), which is roughly the distance from Oslo to Bangkok.
There are several reasons why the oil and gas industry in Norway is taking an active interest in robotics, in part it is part of a drive to cut costs and improve productivity, but it is also part of efforts to solve the industry’s skills shortage and reduce potential health and safety risks.
“The largest effect of our robot technology is enabling a large degree of autonomy. All operation can take place from a shore-based control center, so no offshore personnel are required to carry out operation,” said Arne Kjørsvik, CEO Eelume AS. “Putting people onshore reduces the HSE risk and improve environmental KIPs.”