Shell Signs Offshore Service Agreement With Nauticus Robotics

Collaboration evolves from the development stage to commercial ocean robot service with a potential multi-year pipeline.

Jonathan Reichel, director of marketing/graphics at Nauticus Robotics, via ArtStation.

Nauticus Robotics and Shell plan to continue joint development of robots for undersea inspection, maintenance, and repair operations.
Shell has contracted with Nauticus Robotics to conduct autonomous subsea manipulation tasks with Aquanaut on live subsea assets at more than 1 km depth without an umbilical.

Nauticus Robotics Inc. today announced that it has entered into a service contract with Shell PLC. The initial scope of work includes inspection services on a Shell subsea field development in the Gulf of Mexico, and the contract could lead to future inspection projects.

The new contract follows Nauticus' successful qualification phase for autonomous inspection, maintenance, and repair (IMR). The Houston-based company said its flagship Aquanaut robot will perform noncontact and contact inspections across an extensive subsea complex.

“I am incredibly pleased with the progress the team has made in our collaboration with Shell and to embark on this new project with one of the world’s leading energy companies,” said Nicolaus Radford, CEO of Nauticus, in a release.

“Nauticus now has visibility [into] long-term IMR services work for Shell and the opportunity to become the preferred supplier for this advanced work,” he noted. “We recognize the significance of this opportunity with Shell and look forward to the execution of this project work.”

Nauticus offers RaaS, retrofits, and sustainability

Nauticus Robotics develops ocean robots, autonomy software, and services. The company delivers them to commercial and government-facing customers through a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) business model or direct product sales.

In addition to standalone services and products, Nauticus said it has developed a range of technologies for retrofitting legacy systems and other third-party vehicle platforms.

The company said it provides customers with the data collection, analytics, and underwater manipulation capabilities to support assets while reducing their operational footprints and operating costs. Nauticus also said it can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions to improve offshore health, safety, and environmental exposure.

“We have the near-term goal of reducing reliance on vessels for offshore tasks,” Radford told Robotics 24/7. “You don't need a jackhammer for a nail. We need to deploy the technology at scale to keep people safe and to create more autonomous systems.”

Norway-based Equinor ASA recently engaged Nauticus and its local business partner, Stinger Technology AS, to deply a proprietary leak-detection technology service. Nauticus also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Australia-based MMA Offshore Ltd. to develop an integrated, cost-effective, and sustainable offering for the Asia-Pacific region.

Nauticus Robotics collaborating with Shell on Aquanaut

Aquanaut is designed to improve safety and sustainability. Source: Nauticus Robotics

Shell project could lead to a 'step change'

Nauticus said the project will feature its “first-to-market” method of autonomous manipulation on live assets in water depths exceeding 1,000 m (3,280.8 ft.). A remote pilot will collaborate with Aquanaut through Nauticus’ acoustic communications link to ensure safe operations.

The contract will also include what Shell called “a force multiplier” solution, with multiple scopes of work to be executed simultaneously from a smaller class of vessel than would normally engage in IMR services. The fact that no umbilical is needed to control Aquanaut is a key enabler of the business case, said Nauticus.

The company said the project required it to mature its offshore health, safety, and environment (HSE) systems and operational expertise. Nauticus also worked with Shell's marine assurance staff and robotics innovation program on the project's offshore operational design.

Shell and Nauticus said their joint development “could lead to a step change in technology and service delivery for the offshore sector.”

Here is a small sample of Nauticus' growing fleet of ocean robotics!

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Jonathan Reichel, director of marketing/graphics at Nauticus Robotics, via ArtStation.

Nauticus Robotics and Shell plan to continue joint development of robots for undersea inspection, maintenance, and repair operations.

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