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Is there anything down there?

James Fisher Marine Services (JFMS) has just completed a deep-towed subsea survey in the Black Sea for LUKOIL, one of the largest publicly traded oil and gas companies in the world.

The Black Sea is a region of significant scientific interest globally, evidenced by a recent discovery of 60 shipwrecks enabling artefacts dating back to the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods to be brought to the surface for the first time in centuries.

JFMS delivered the scope on LUKOIL’s behalf in order to comply with new Romanian environmental law dictating that the Russian oil and gas company must perform an archaeological clearance survey. This looks to identify any potential archaeological targets, and where none remain, sanctions the area as being clear of any archaeological interest.

LUKOIL, and the local diving authorities, had little experience of a survey of this scale before, previously using a platform-based solution only suitable for smaller areas. Exploiting its expert survey knowledge, JFMS deployed a deep-towed solution that vastly reduced the operation time to within five days.

Conducted off the shores of Romania, at ~1000 m water depth, the deep-towed subsea survey covered an 8 x 6.13 km grid over three planned exploration wells in the Ex30 Trident Block, using the port of Constanta as a base.

Martin Dronfield, Director - Strategy and Business Development at JFMS, said, “It is hugely satisfying to be able to support one of our customers to deliver project scopes more cost and time efficiently, which is something we deliver consistently. This is the first time JFMS has provided a deep-towed subsea survey but the success and acquired expertise means we can expand the survey options we provide.”

JFMS procured the multi-purpose support vessel Ievoli Cobalt, mobilised with a towed side-scan sonar and sub-bottom profiler solution, together with a work-class remotely operated vehicle, Triton XLX WROV, for visual inspection of targets identified in the sonar data.

The survey required JFMS to identify any anomalies with dimensions exceeding one metre in all axes – using the side-scan sonar to search for surface targets and the sub-bottom profiler to detect sub-surface targets down to a depth of 6m.

Post-survey data analysis revealed there were no targets of potential archaeological interest, meaning the Romanian authorities are now free to issue an Archaeological Discharge Certificate and LUKOIL may now proceed with drilling and construction operations in the field later this year

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