Collaborating in the Offshore to Build Knowledge and Local Expertise

Statoil is continually adapting to the offshore environment with sound knowledge and new technology.

After 18 days at sea aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Vessel Amundsen northwest of the Flemish Pass, Tom McKeever and Brad Elliott of Statoil Canada are back on shore. From April 17 to May 4, they participated in an ambitious research technology expedition focused on collecting scientific data and testing key technologies critical to understanding Newfoundland and Labrador’s harsh offshore environment.

The expedition was a collaboration with ArcticNet, a network of Centres of Excellence in Canada, the Research and Development Corporation (RDC), Husky Energy, academia, and industry. Conducting the research aboard the research icebreaker was a team of 40 Canadian and international scientists and technical staff, including researchers from Statoil Canada and Statoil ASA (Norway).

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“Through this project we’re able to field-test technologies under real conditions,” says McKeever, Principal Researcher and Statoil’s Leader for the expedition. “This offers Statoil a considerable amount of data and valuable insight into the area.”

In addition to the scientific equipment provided on the Amundsen, Statoil deployed scientific metocean and ice measurement mooring equipment in strategic locations northwest of the Flemish Pass Basin. Since it was deployed this equipment has been collecting data on waves, sea ice, iceberg drift, currents, and other important environmental parameters.

ArcticNet sea-ice expert, Professor David Barber, from the University of Manitoba, was the chief scientist on board the Amundsen during the expedition. He worked closely with Statoil’s team to fulfill the technical and scientific scope of the project.

During their time in the offshore they achieved a number of expedition objectives. They deployed three metocean moorings that will collect valuable data over the long term. Using new technologies they surveyed and tracked icebergs in open water to obtain data that will enable more accurate iceberg-drift forecasts and establish a state-of-the-art dataset for model validation. The expedition team also tested and validated ice detection capabilities of enhanced marine, and ice radars. Data collected will help adapt these radars to allow users to tell the difference between first year ice and the much denser multi-year ice. They also tested specialized sensors for iceberg detection in low visibility conditions.

“Our expectations are that the results will give improved sea ice and iceberg surveillance and forecasting models, which is important for facility design and planning of ice management operations,” says McKeever.

Adding to the diversity of environmental data collection and observation, was field-testing and comparative analysis of new marine mammal detection and tracking tools. These included a Statoil-initiated target range finder, plus sophisticated active sonar for marine mammal tracking.

For Ole Petterson, Manager of Research, Development and Innovation for Statoil in Newfoundland and Labrador, this expedition was also about co-operation and building local skills. “The high level of collaboration and funding from partners on this expedition allowed a diverse collection of research and technology groups to participate, which increases the level of expertise in the program and will continue to strengthen local R and D capacity in the province,” he says.

The expedition builds on the success of two previous research cruises that Statoil participated in offshore northern Greenland in 2012 and 2013, using the icebreaker, Oden, in partnership with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.

 

Photo courtesy of Francesco Scibilia, Statoil

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