Colombian state-controlled petroleum giant Ecopetrol (NYSE: EC, BVC: ECO) has taken delivery of French-made submarine drones to help the company in its Caribbean petroleum exploration efforts. The drones are equipped with sophisticated chemical and physical sensors to allow it to “smell” markers that may indicate potential undiscovered subsea resources.
The company took delivery of 4 drones, named “Sea Explorer,” and will be operated by French company Alseamar; the designer and provider of the machines and the specialized services to support their use. The submarine drones will begin operation between now and December, when conditions are ideal for explorations near the Guajira Peninsula on Colombia’s Atlantic coast.
These small, unmanned submarines have permitted the gathering, over time spans of weeks or months, data such as ocean currents, temperature, salinity, pressure, oxygenation, dissolved organic material, chlorophyll, and other variables across wide areas and depths.
These variables, according to Ecopetrol, are important to analyze before ocean drilling, as they can help reduce risks, and also identify naturally occurring petroleum seepage from the sea floor, indicating potential exploration zones. The submarines also can provide acoustic monitoring during actual drilling activities.
Ecopetrol currently has six exploration and production blocks in The Caribbean, including Fuerte Sur, Purple Angel, Tayronal, COL-5, GUAOFF1, and GUAOFF-10.