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Improve the speed of delivery of “as-trenched” survey and lower environmental impact

A change in deployment methodology delivers.
Bay of Campeche, Mexico

How do you replace the need for a survey support vessel and still receive live data?

Sulmara was commissioned to deliver trenching survey data without the requirement for a survey support vessel. As part of this five-month project live “as-built” data during trenching was essential.  While working in the Gulf of Mexico, Sulmara was able to improve the speed of delivery of “as-trenched” survey work, as well as reducing overall vessel time spent, by performing simultaneous trenching and survey operations.


We challenged ourselves to deliver the data faster and with less impact on the environment.

By reviewing the standard methodology, the Sulmara survey team identified that the vessel configuration would allow the WROV c/w dual head R”Sonic 2024 to fly behind the jet trencher, at a suitable offset, to allow trenching and the “as-trenched” survey to be completed in a single pass.  Positioning algorithms were employed to allow extended layback ROV operations whilst auto processing techniques allowed DoB calculation, based on pre-trench pipe position.

This not only negated the need for a separate survey pass, but also enabled the project engineers and trenching supervisors to access data relating to the performance of the trencher in (almost) real-time, thus facilitating effective decision making and fostering confidence in trencher performance.


Sulmara knew that certain issues would come into play on this project based on field experience and so took preventative action to anticipate those issues. The long tethering of the ROV meant that exact positioning was difficult and it was crucial to maintain accurate positioning to allow adjustment of the course of the ROV to ensure that the survey would be completed accurately. 

The Drix USV (Uncrewed Surface Vessel) was deployed using a circular mode programming to support the positioning of the ROV. However, the analogue signal proved problematic in an environment with a lot of other background “noise”. However, with adjustment and perseverance Sulmara managed to deliver the positioning data required to keep the ROV on track.


“This is a prime example of the approach we take when it comes to challenging legacy methodology and quantifying results in the field through real-life comparisons. Our team is encouraged to do this at every opportunity so we can deliver tangible cost savings to our clients and, ultimately reduce our impact on the environment.”

Kevin McBarron CEO

The client was impressed with the correlation between the simops survey DoB and conventional “as-trenched” survey results.  Further confidence in the system came from continually comparing numerous passes on different pipelines before dropping traditional methodology in favour of innovation. The overall project duration was reduced by approximately 25%.