GSP Prince, owned by Romania-based Grup Servicii Petroliere provides survey services & support for the South Stream project. The operations performed from GSP Prince covered by now about a half of the 900-kilometer long route with most of the South Stream pipeline route lying at depths of over 2 kilometers.
A record reduction in time has been achieved in bottom profiling while maintaining a persistent high quality of the data collected. It only took to GSP Prince’s on-board personnel 35 minutes to record an underwater sound velocity profile of a 1,730-meter deep section of the Black Sea. This result surpasses the previous record high for sound velocity profiling of the water column, which measured 1,563 meters and was set by the National Data Buoy Center with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The survey operations include exploration of the bottom sections and of the subsea strata using the HUGIN 1000 for 3000 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. GSP Prince’s advanced technical features allowed the survey to be performed using a fast and economical method of recording underwater sound velocity with the aid of the compact high-speed UnderwaySV winch developed by Oceanscience (USA) and the RapidSV underwater sound velocity recording profiler made by Valeport of the UK.
An innovation to the bottom profiling method employed, has been the use, in combination with the RapidSV sound velocity rate sensor, of the cantilever-type spool that makes it possible for the probe to plummet practically in the free-descent mode as the cable unwinds. The sensor descends in the water at the speed of up to 5 m/sec and reaches the depth of 1,000 meters in a mere three to four minutes time. At the same time, the winch has a high wind-up speed, which makes it possible to raise the sensor quickly. As a result, a record-breaking reduction in time has been achieved in bottom profiling while maintaining a persistent high quality of the data collected.
The offshore section of South Stream runs across the Black Sea, connecting the compressor station on the Russian coast at Beregovaya with the Bulgarian coast in the city of Varna. The 900-kilometre (560 mi) long offshore section will reach the maximum depth of approximately 2000 meters. The offshore pipeline is planned to carry 63 billion cubic meters (2.2 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas per year. The South Stream project alone will result in over 1,800 km (phase 1) of new pipeline and significant subsea work. South Stream pipeline sections in Serbia, Hungary, and Slovenia will have capacity at least 10 billion cubic meters (350 billion cubic feet) per year. The South Stream gas pipeline will ensure a direct connection between hydrocarbons suppliers and consumers thus raising significantly the energy supply security on the entire European continent. The construction is scheduled to start in 2013, and the first gas supplies being expected for 2015.
Offshore Energy Today Staff, January 3, 2012; Image: GSP Offshore