In July 2017, Blue Ocean Monitoring conducted the Yampi Geochemical Glider Survey (Yampi Project) a research and development project undertaken, and wholly funded by Blue Ocean Monitoring. The project was a continuation of Blue Ocean Monitoring’s research into using autonomous underwater gliders for geochemical exploration surveys for the oil and gas industry. The first project Blue Ocean undertook for this purpose was the PNG Geochemical Survey in December 2016, in the Gulf of Papua. The Yampi Project built on the knowledge gained from the PNG Geochemical Survey and incorporated the use of leading methane sensor technology, never been applied to underwater gliders, to enhance the ability of gliders to detect hydrocarbons in water.
After undertaking many months of engineering and design to allow for the integration of the methane sensor Blue Ocean Monitoring deployed the underwater glider in the Browse Basin, Western Australia. The glider was capturing methane and fluorescence (a measure for crude oil) data, along with other oceanographic properties, at 1 second intervals and over the full water column for a period of 15 days.
Survey results were very positive with high concentrations of methane, up to 160 times background measured, this correlated well with historical data sets. Additionally, by using a fluorometer on the same vehicle, Blue Ocean Monitoring was able to analyse if longer chain hydrocarbons were present, which aids in the understanding of whether petroleum systems have biogenic or thermogenic origins.
Underwater glider technology with state of the art hydrocarbon sensor packages have great potential to disrupt traditional survey methods by providing highly accurate in-situ data, in near real time for a fraction of the cost.