Employees of Wood in Houston, a Scottish engineering and management services giant, are helping drive the robot revolution in the oil and gas industry.
Wood recently received nearly $3 million in funding from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador to support the development of robots that will perform autonomous inspection and maintenance of onshore and offshore oil and gas infrastructure in this region.
“As we prepare for the transition to renewable energy, we do so knowing that oil and gas will be needed for the foreseeable future. Our government will continue to work to support the women and men who work in the oil and gas industry as we work with the industry to support innovative new ideas to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said said Andrew Furey, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, in a statement. Press release.
Among other things, robotic capabilities will enable constant monitoring of oil and gas assets and earlier detection of methane emissions. Wood says if the Canadian project is successful, it could lead to the deployment of more robots.
Some of Wood’s robots will roam the showroom at this year’s Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), which takes place May 2-5 at NRG Park. A OTC session on May 3 will highlight the emerging sector of offshore robotic technologies. Rami Jabari of Houston-based ExxonMobil and Ross Doak of Shell, which has a major presence in Houston, are the session co-chairs. ExxonMobil and Shell have embraced robotics in recent years.
Wood’s Houston office — which employs nearly 11,000 full-time workers locally and had 2020 global revenue of $7.5 billion — has been hard at work on robotics technology for several years. The technology has already been the subject of a successful pilot project in Wyoming, where robots and drones captured data to create 3D models of oil and gas assets.
“In a nutshell, this technology makes routine asset inspections and maintenance safer and more efficient, resulting in reduced carbon emissions and sustainable operations at lower cost,” according to Wood.
One of the main goals of robotic technology is to help more than 100 countries that have pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. According to the United Nations, reducing methane emissions methane is one of the most cost-effective ways to meet global climate change goals.
Wood, whose US locations are in Houston and Alpharetta, Georgia, isn’t the only company with strong local ties innovating robotics for the oil and gas industry.
For example, Webster-based Nauticus Robotics specializes in offshore robotics for the oil and gas sector and other industries. Nauticus, formerly known as Houston Mechatronics, is preparing to merge with CleanTech Acquisitiona listed SPAC or a special acquisition company.
The ongoing merger values Nauticus at $560 million. The company expects to generate more than $90 million in revenue in 2023, up from about $8.2 million this year.
Nauticus’ first product, founded by former NASA engineers, is called Aquanaut.
“Aquanaut is an unmanned underwater vehicle that can transform from an agile submarine designed for long-distance cruising into a semi-humanoid robot capable of performing complex manipulation tasks. It can inspect oil infrastructure and subsea gas fields, operating valves and using tools”, according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).