Boost to oil and gas research - One step closer to underwater vehicles

Dr. Neil Bose

Memorial University is partnering with Northstar Technical Inc., a subsidiary of Northstar Electronics, Inc. and the NRC Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT) to give a significant boost to oil and gas research.

Under the agreement, Northstar will provide sonar technologies such as obstacle avoidance, water depth and temperature, bottom finding and vehicle pitch and roll to the autonomous underwater vehicle known as C-SCOUT, on which MUN and IOT have been collaborating. In turn, Northstar will receive valuable test data for its cutting edge sonar technologies being developed under the Aquacomm program. C-SCOUT has been primarily developed to research environmental monitoring of discharges of produced water, drilling mud and cuttings in the offshore oil and gas industry.

With this partnership, Northstar's Acoustic Modem will be the primary communications channel between the C-SCOUT and the surface enabling the C-SCOUT to conduct complex missions with real time communications capability. The technology itself, originally developed for the fishing industry, is a nose cone with several sensors that are forward and down looking.

"The Acoustic Modem will be a modular design focusing on high data rate/security, long range, size and reduced power consumption," said Dr. Wilson Russell, CEO of Northstar Technical. "This approach will allow Northstar to be very responsive to product requests from a variety of industry sectors."

Dr. Neil Bose, Canada Research Chair in Offshore and Underwater Vehicle Design and professor of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, stated, "This is an ideal opportunity based on a match of expertise, ours in underwater vehicle technology and Northstar's in sonar development, where both organizations are developing equipment and products in areas that would be difficult without the expertise of the other."

Dr. Mary Williams, director general of the National Research Council's IOT and honorary professor at Memorial, added that C-SCOUT could not be developed without collaboration among the research partners.

"NRC has been fostering the ocean technology cluster in St. John's and this project is a perfect example of how much more we can accomplish collectively. By using our strengths as a cluster we can be competitive internationally when it comes to developing ocean technology systems such as C-SCOUT."