Wave energy is to be explored as a power source for seabed oil & gas infrastructure and future fleets of underwater service robots as part of project launched by North Sea developer Chrysaor using technology from Mocean Energy.

The pilot, which also includes partners EC-OG, a specialist in subsea energy storage, Modus, an operator of so-called autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and Scotland’s Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC), will use Mocean’s Blue Star wave energy converter (WEC) and EC-OG’s HALO system to power subsea tiebacks and offshore oil field AUVs.

“This project gives us the opportunity to put our prototype to real use and will give us the chance to draw on the subsea expertise of our project partners,” said Cameron McNatt, managing director of MOcean, which last year secured £3.3m ($4.3m) from Wave Energy Scotland to build and test a half-scale version of its WEC at sea.

“It is a genuine opportunity to showcase the potential for renewable energy to power a subsea application.”

If industry feedback at an upcoming workshop in Scotland on “real-world applications” of the technology is positive, said McNatt, the project partners will field trial the Mocean WEC off Orkney later this year.

Nigel Ward, chief commercial officer at Modus, said: “This project will demonstrate capability to provide temporary or semi-permanent modular subsea residency for AUV systems controlled by ‘over the horizon’ technology.

“This innovative approach to survey and inspection will reduce the numbers of personnel offshore, providing significant safety benefits and cost savings.”

Paul Slorach, business development director from EC-OG, added the project would not only demonstrate the WEC’s “technical feasibility, “but also the financial benefits and carbon savings from using renewable energy to power subsea infrastructure”.

Mocean was one of the first companies supported by the OGTC, which is based in Aberdeen, via its TechX programme, an initiative designed to develop innovative technology that would accelerate the offshore oil industry’s move towards a net zero carbon economy.

The Mocean BlueStar is a moored, ‘wave-riding’ concept, small enough to fit in a 40-foot shipping container, that uses magnetic-geared power take-off to charge onboard batteries to provide on-demand power for a range of underwater technologies.

OGTC solution centre director Myrtle Dawes said closer cross-sector partnerships between oil & gas and renewables, would allow the UK energy industry to transform how its “operates, inspire innovation and ultimately see the North Sea lead the way in energy transition technologies”.

Wave technology is increasingly been tested by offshore oil industry in the role of providing backup power for at-sea operations, with Ocean Power Technologies, one of the early pioneers of the wave energy industry, having set the seal in recent years on a deal to power a subsea oil tieback project being developed by Eni in the Adriatic off Italy, and another with an unnamed US operator to use its PowerBuoy technology to power a major decommissioning scheme in the Gulf of Mexico.