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TotalEnergies has been working on the development and use of autonomous ground robots for Oil & Gas operations since 2013, and is now the leader in the field. In November 2020, a surveillance robot was deployed at our gas plant in the Shetland for a long-term test. This world first will enable us to strengthen this technological building block of the future. 

The Argos Project: Autonomous Robots for Gas and Oil Sites

One of R&D’s missions is to pave the way for tomorrow’s simpler, streamlined and less costly facilities.  The Next-Generation Facilities project illustrates this approach, which combines reducing technical costs and achieving operational excellence with maintaining the highest HSE standards. Ground robots, with the ARGOS (Autonomous Robots for Gas and Oil Sites) project, are a key component in our future architectures, which will operate without a continuous human presence. We are currently developing surveillance robots able to hear or see gas leaks or hot spots (potential fires), in order to improve on-site safety. We are also developing robots capable of interacting with facilities. A simple handling robot for operating tasks and a complex handling robot to be used more specifically for maintenance tasks are also planned. These three types of robot will enable us to operate any type of site remotely in the future. 

 

FIRST AUTONOMOUS MISSION FOR AN ATEX ROBOT ON AN OIL & GAS SITE

Since 2013, TotalEnergies has been working on the development and usage of ground robots in Oil & Gas operations

From Experimentation to Commercial Scale-Up: A path studded with world firsts

This adventure began in 2013 with the ARGOS Challenge, an open innovation robotics competition, and by 2017 had demonstrated the feasibility of autonomous ATEX-compliant (i.e. allowed in an environment with an explosive atmosphere) ground robots. These are capable of operating autonomously on our sites, of detecting anomalies and alerting operators. Since then, we have been working with the winner of the ARGOS Challenge, Austrian startup TAUROB, and together are continuing to develop the Offshore Ground Robotics Industrial Pilot (OGRIP) robot. A multitude of tests have been carried out at our sites during the development phases, particularly in the Shetland, at our pilot site at the PERL and at Tempa Rossa in Italy.  

2020 will mark the end of the development phase of the inspection robot. Since its introduction at Investors Day in February, the robot has demonstrated its potential on one of our offshore sites in the Netherlands, and in November, two were deployed in the Shetland at the start of a long-term test. The test is scheduled to run for a year and its main aim is to confirm the robot’s reliability in a difficult operating environment. During the year, the two surveillance robots will undertake rounds autonomously in a MEG (gas dehydration) treatment unit, where they will monitor process parameters. The robot’s reliability will be analyzed in detail in order to identify all the improvements required for its wider roll-out in our facilities. The takeover of the robots by the plant is a key stage in the adoption of this technology by the operating teams. In the coming months, additional tests will take place in parallel at Lacq, in Italy, in the Netherlands and eventually (by 2022), in Africa or the Middle East. 

ARGOS JIP: Sharing Our Vision

Obviously, this new technology must be paired with a new way of looking at operations at our production sites. Proposing this type of change on an upcoming development can only work if we have our partners’ support. That’s why we initiated the ARGOS joint industry project (JIP) in partnership with Equinor and the OGTC, so that we can share our common vision and development work on ground robots.  

This JIP will be broken up into two- or three-year phases, each of which will involve delivering a new, increasingly complex version of the robot. Phase 1, which began in July 2019, aims to move on from version 1.0 (OGRIP robot) to a version 2.0, with the goal of delivering the first robot capable of operating a wellhead platform by the end of 2021. Phase 2, which is currently in preparation, should start after that, and the accent will be placed on the robot’s dexterity and ability to undertake collaborative work. 

Setting Up a Robot Test Site

In addition to the on-site tests and pilots, we are using the robot development platform in Lacq, in South West France, to hone our expertise, identify new use cases, and work on piloting robots remotely and managing a fleet of robots.  The ergonomic aspects of future oil facilities are also being tested there in order to facilitate the use of robots on our sites. 

This platform is backed by the Transverse Anomaly Detection Infrastructure (TADI), a test surface optimized for robotics. It includes a six-metre-high modular structure fitted with test benches to enable the capabilities of different equipment to be tested remotely from a control room. 

  • Robot OGRIP, K5 Complex, Offshore Netherlands
  • Robot OGRIP, K5 Complex, Offshore Netherlands
  • Robot OGRIP, K5 Complex, Offshore Netherlands
  • Robot OGRIP, Shetland Gas Plant, UK
  • Robot OGRIP during commissioning activities, Shetland Gas Plant, UK
  • E&P Robotics development Platform, TADI, Lacq France

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