Surveying the future
Founded in 1995 in response to market needs, Aquadyne is an expert in the provision of subsea positioning and survey equipment.
The company is comprised of seven highly skilled employees and saw a turnover of over £10 million last year. It works in conjunction with a number of international companies operating in the Norwegian subsea industry, including Sonardyne, Reson, Teledyne TSS, Innomar and Applanix.
Aquadyne aims at combining the knowledge of these specialist companies to create new and innovative solutions as managing director, Jan-Erik Rygh, explains: “Having worked for many years for the Norwegian offshore industry as a scientist, an engineer and clients’ representative, I thought that the Norwegian market would benefit from easier access to state-of-the-art-technology from certain foreign companies. I founded Aquadyne to represent such organisations in Norway and to introduce their products to the Norwegian industry.
The first firm to join was Sonardyne, which I knew had the excellent acoustic underwater positioning equipment that was in demand in the Norwegian market. “However, being only a sales company did not benefit the principle or the representative sufficiently, so we added to the number of suppliers looking for products that could complement each other’s performance and solve a wider range of demands. Reson joined us in 1998 and we gained access to first class multibeam echosounders for seabed mapping, forward looking sonars for obstacle avoidance, hydrophones and transducers.”
Reson has recently launched the new 7000 series of their well known SeaBat Multibeam Echosounder, breaking new ground in sonar technology. “The Norwegian offshore industry is very open to trying the latest technology so it is a good partner for testing new products. The new SeaBats were no exception and have provided customers with even better accuracy and greater user friendliness,” Jan-Erik states. The performance of Reson’s SeaBats is enhanced by Applanix POS MV, a system with tightly-coupled technology that provides accurate attitude, heading, heave, position, and velocity data, and is designed for use with multibeam sonar systems. Therefore, Aquadyne has represented Applanix for the last few years.
Continuing, he comments: “We’ve worked with Teledyne TSS since 2000, when we started collaborating as we needed high quality motion sensors, and we’ve been representing them ever since. They also provide pipe and cable detection systems that are in high demand. To be able to detect the targets, it is necessary to conduct a target scaling on samples of the pipes and cables. Aquadyne and Teledyne TSS provide that service in Asker as well as at customers’ sites all over Norway.
“Our relationship with Innomar Technologie started in 2002. The Norwegian industry needed high quality parametric sub bottom profilers for use on remote operated vehicles (ROVs). Innomar had the technology, but little experience with the Offshore industry. Aquadyne facilitated a development project which involved Statoil, DeepOcean and Innomar. The result was a new product, the SES 2000 ROV which has been in use in the North Sea ever since, ” Jan-Erik explains.
“Having such key principles in our remit means they can cross-collaborate to create some of the best solutions in the industry, and Aquadyne is dedicated to doing just that.”
Jan-Erik talks through the company’s latest projects: “Aquadyne has engaged in a Petromax project in collaboration with Reson. The aim is to use Reson’s Sonar Technology for Hydrocarbon Leak detection. It has the ability to detect a small gas leak at some distance and has already demonstrated its importance for the market. It was used in the Ormen Lange project to detect a MEG (mono ethylene glycol) leak the size of a pinhole in a 128 kilometre long umbilical, buried 1.5 metres below the seabed. SeaBat was able to locate the leakage site, launching Aquadyne into a new area of business.
“We are also working on noise sensors, focusing on acoustic noise, as well as electromagnetic noise. The project started because Statoil flagged an interest in the development of a background noise sensor to be able to determine how well certain vessels or ROVs are suited as instrument platforms. ‘Noisy’ platforms can cause reduced performance of acoustic equipment and therefore noise level is of great importance to suppliers and users of such instruments. At present we are looking into a wider range of applications for the sensor. We believe that it has a great potential for environmental monitoring.”
Aquadyne operates as a service partner, providing expert advice on equipment for marine surveys and assistance in system set-up, calibration and training, ensuring clients get the most out of its products. To this end, Aquadyne also takes part in testing equipment. “Last summer we arranged an expedition to Spitzbergen to test Sonardyne’s new ringlaser gyro, Lodestar, at high latitude where instruments like this might face technical problems. The Lodestar did well and the results were used to further improve the algorithms of its software. Comprehensive testing is an important area of our business, ensuring our products are of the highest quality and suitable for the location where they will be used. Aquadyne recently invested in a 21-foot aluminium workboat to aid the transportation of equipment, as well as for minor surveys and research purposes.”
To meet their customers beyond day-to-day business, Aquadyne attends the ONS exhibition in Stavanger at the end of August and the Offshore Technology days in Bergen in October. Furthermore, the company arranges an annual Technology Awareness Seminar in autumn. The seminar combines lectures, workshops and offshore demonstrations of the latest equipment. “It can be quite nerve wracking at times to stage such an event due to the diversity of the activities involved,” Jan-Erik explains. “But the seminar, which is attended by over 70 people, gives the company and its principles an opportunity to share its diverse knowledge with others in the industry and build new working relationships.”
Reflecting on Aquadyne’s strengths, Jan-Erik says: “It comes down to the mix of people we have – everyone has their unique talents and skills. Chris Stamford-Burrows, our operations manager, has been working in the seismic industry for years, Tomas Fritsvold’s background is in survey, mapping and design, and Jan Ådland, who runs the Bergen office is a specialist in inertial navigation and ships instrumentation with many years of offshore experience. He also runs his own company, HFT, developing depressors that can also carry instruments provided by Aquadyne. Our staff are all multi-talented, curious and supportive, and that gives us the edge in the market.”
For the future, Jan-Erik feels that despite the depressing picture drawn in the light of the economic crisis, Aquadyne will continue to succeed as long as the oil and gas market is active. To be able to react dynamically to changing market requirements, the business is continuing to look for suppliers with interesting technology and complimentary products. Recently, it has started co-operating with Forsberg Services in the UK and Swedish ROV company Ocean Modules. “To maintain our position we want to offer our customers the best kit available and we will make an effort to support it in collaboration with our principles as best we can,” concludes Jan-Erik.
Products Underwater positioning, transponders and GPS systems