Shell PLC said it has conducted the first pipeline route survey using an unmanned ship in Nigeria.

Shell subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. (SPDC) in February deployed the unscrewed surface vessel (USV) along the route of the Bonny oil pipeline network in the Niger Delta, where she conducted a survey for 166 hours, Shell said in a news release.

“It is the first deployment of an USV for a pipeline route survey in shallow water in Nigeria and the longest such single mission in the Shell Group”, the announcement stated.

SPDC head of offshore survey operations Steve Keedwell highlighted the USV improves survey efficiency and quality while reducing personnel exposure to safety risks.

“This is the new face of survey in Nigeria, in which on-site and remote operators deployed the Uncrewed Surface Vessel”, Keedwell said in a statement. “We recorded increased productivity and better data acquisition at the survey at Bonny.

“Deploying the USV reduced CO2 emissions by 97 percent because the vehicle is designed as diesel electric.

“The efficiency of data acquisition coupled with improved data quality whilst reducing personnel exposure to zero is transforming how we execute surveys”.

Compass Survey Ltd., a local company that oversaw the deployment with help from United Kingdom partner Unmanned Survey Solutions Ltd., is training on-site remote operators, Shell said.

“Already, the innovation in the survey at Bonny is attracting interests from the oil and gas industry and beyond, which means it stands a good chance of being widely used in Nigeria”, said SPDC general manager for Nigerian content development Lanre Olawuyi.

“We will continue to support Nigerian companies in the domestication of technology and innovations”.

SPDC recently used the Bonny pipeline system to resume crude oil supply to the Port Harcourt refinery. “The crude supply resumed early in the year after a prolonged outage of over five years, during which time the refinery underwent rehabilitation and integrity activities on its supply pipeline from the terminal”, Shell said in a press release February 12.

SPDC delivered 475,000 barrels to Port Harcourt Refining Co. Ltd. from the Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal, a joint venture operated by SPDC on Bonny island.

“Before implementing the supplies of the product to the refining company, the project teams first assured the integrity of the supply pipelines and the terminal’s export pumps which had been shut down for an extended period”, said the terminal’s installation manager, Odita Nnajiofor.

“The recommencement of crude oil supply from the terminal to the refinery is a significant achievement and a game-changer for the industry and the country”, Nnajiofor added. “It will support federal government’s aspiration of steady supply of petroleum products to the downstream market with attendant economic benefits to the nation and the people”.

The refinery has a total crude distillation capacity of 210,000 barrels per day at two plants, according to information from the Bureau of Public Enterprises.

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