ESA title

Unmanned maritime data acquisition and intelligence for decommissioning

  • ACTIVITYFeasibility Study
  • STATUSCompleted

Objectives of the service

Completion of offshore decommissioning, subsea Inspection Repair and Maintenance (IRM), and site survey work scopes currently requires the use of large crewed vessels, hosting facilities to manually control remotely operated vehicle survey platforms. These ROV service vessels (ROVSV) are operated by extensive crews (45+ persons), burn large quantities of fuel, and are expensive. This project seeks to introduce an alternative solution, based on the use of uncrewed maritime systems (UMS) controlled from a remote operations centre (ROC) on land, to cover a large part of decommissioning and IRM scopes. This will reduce costs, carbon footprint, and HSE risks.

Users and their needs

The UMS service will have a global reach and target a large client base. The initial focus is on a potential European client/user base for O&G and renewables. Engagement with international clients has been underway and the service targets offshore energy operators and tier 1 contractors and consultants. The feasibility project was support by Harbour Energy, Xodus, and the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC).

The service being develop targets the following user requirements:

  • Quantification and classification of marine life in the vicinity of subsea assets

  • Subsea asset integrity/comparative assessments 

  • Active monitoring to facilitate life extension

  • Long term seabed mobility monitoring

  • Identification and location of pipelines

  • 3D model creation of subsea assets

  • Pipeline surveys/long term remote monitoring of pipelines left in situ

  • Verification of clear seabed post-decom

  • Environmental surveys and monitoring of environmental conditions

Service/ system concept

In pairing user requirements with the technological solutions being advanced in this project, separate yet interrelated services are proposed.  These services cover the survey data that needs to be collected before, during and following the decommissioning process, and associated intelligence provision services for operators.

The UMS service is broken down into 4 sub-services:

  1. IRM Surveys (both oil and gas (O&G) and offshore windfarm (OWF))

  2. Decommissioning Surveys

    1. Pre-decommissioning surveys

    2. Post-decommissioning surveys

    3. Post-decommissioning monitoring

  3. Site Surveys –OWF/O&G

  4. Remote data access platform / planning and site selection tool

The technical solution proposed is composed of two distinct elements, the UMS subsea data acquisition, processing, analysis, and delivery component, and the shore-based data access platform. The UMS service, centres on the acquisition of data relating to the seabed and subsea assets. Data pipelines will be implemented for UMS acquired data, enabling processed data outputs to be supplied to users with minimal delays as part of service 4. The remote data access platform will allow optimisation of planning of decommissioning survey scopes and enable advanced data deliverables to be provided to clients, facilitating more immediate updates, and provide analytical functionality such as change detection.


Space Added Value

Satellite Communications (SatCom) and Satellite Navigation (SatNav) are utilised in this project to provide:


  • Beyond the horizon communications

  • Reliable, high availability, communication for control.

  • On demand, high data throughput for data pipelining 

  • A cost-effective solution for clients

SatCom is also essential for both command and control of OTH UMS operations and for transfer of data back to the ROC, so quality control can be undertaken, and important retasking decisions can be taken on-the-fly. 


SatNav is essential to ensure accurate positioning of the survey platforms..

Current Status

Sulmara have now completed a technical feasibility evaluation covering development of an ROTV/USV survey service for offshore decommissioning. A business plan for the associated service has been developed, which is based on inputs obtained from a user engagement study. Through partnering with technology providers Sulmara have secured access to suitable USV and ROTV systems, which they plan to further develop, integrate and pilot through a follow-on demonstration project.

Prime Contractor(s)


Status Date

Updated: 24 March 2022