The technology of deep water scientific cabled observatories is still at its infancy. This situation is contrasted by the fact that deep sea exploration led by the hydrocarbon industry is now mature and industrial products and services are readily available. Taking advantage of the state of the art through cooperation with engineering underwater R&D actors and cooperation with leading companies and SMEs of this field (e.g. Statoil, Alcatel, Fugro, Tecnomare), ESONET will provide the necessary steps to new cost effective developments and implementation of permanent observation capabilities with high priority for our society. This means that ESONET will facilitate the introduction and adoption of standards in the realm of scientific investigations to enable interoperability on the system and component level. Furthermore, the project will enhance capacity building in the context of long term operation of observatory systems. This will result in an improved efficiency regarding scientific cooperation at the European level: shared use of instrument and sensors might be considered on different platform-types for instance.
The integration of leading European companies and SMEs into the anticipated Network of Excellence will be beneficial to both the industrial and the academic sides. On one side, scientific users will be able to adjust their requirements for the observatory system with respect to a technical and economic feasible solution. On the other side, European companies will be enabled to adapt existing techniques and develop new innovative methods for the prospective ocean observatory system. In this way, ESONET will stay abreast of future changes in the technological field.
The offshore oil and gas industry makes great use of remotely operated vehicles (work class ROVs). Until recently, only a few scientific institutes in Europe (IFREMER, RCOM, NOC) had deep water ROVs capable of servicing deep sea observatories. Major investment has now been made or is decided. These partly specialized ROVs or mobile dockers are able to deploy the diverse instrumentation of subsea experiments.
SERPENT ( Scientific and Environmental ROV Partnership using Existing i Ndustrial Technology) project, is a collaborative project between oil companies, industrial companies and scientific institutions. This project shows the potential of using work class ROVs for the deployment of scientific equipments. An objective of ESONET NoE is thus to provide:
- common procedures based on experiences within the offshore industry and
- standard interfaces to ease the interoperability of these subsea intervention means on the various European observatories.