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Exxon-Mobil mapping seafloor in preparation to evaluate significant oil deposit

An expert on Fugros explains the operation of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) – the orange horizontal object in the background- which is placed in the sea to collect data about the seafloor. It is not physically connected to the ship while in operation.

United States oil-giant, Exxon-Mobil, is about to study the condition of the seafloor before constructing the required infrastructure to evaluate a significant oil deposit that has been discovered offshore Guyana , the company’s Venture Operations Manager, Dave Puls said Tuesday.

“You all know that we made a discovery at Liza last year and this is one of the things we are going to do to evaluate that discovery for commerciality,” he told representatives of the media, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) shortly before a tour of sea-floor mapping vessel, Fugro Americas.

Fugro Americas has been hired by Exxon-Mobil to conduct the exercise.

Docked at the John Fernandes Wharf until Wednesday, December 15, 2015 when it is due to embark on a three-month probe at Liza. Puls said the high-tech vessel would be conducting a “very detailed investigation of the seafloor” including a visual check for any hazards there.

“This is all critical for us to understand sea-floor conditions before we  plan to put anything on the seafloor that will be related to development. It is all pre-development activities,” he said.

All visitors to the vessel were subjected to strict safety rules including the wearing of protective gear.

The probe is conducted by an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) which spends at least 48 hours collecting data about the sea-floor as required by the client, in this case Exxon-Mobil.  On this mission, scientists would be examining the condition of the seafloor and the water-depth.

“In a deepwater development, we have to put a lot of infrastructure on the seafloor. This is where all the building is going to happen on the seafloor and we need to know precisely what the seafloor looks like,” said Puls. “This will be the critical data that we use to understand the conditions on the seafloor  before we make any decisions about development,”  he said.

The AUV usually operates about 40 meters above the seabed where it collects the information that is interpreted by experts aboard the vessel.