AUV & ROV Market

Global Industry Analysis (2017 – 2020) – Growth Trends and Market Forecast (2021 – 2025)


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Global AUV & ROV Market: Outlook

Oil and gas production is rapidly making a shift to subsea regions. This represents a significant deviation from conventional production methods. Subsea environment is sometimes the most remote and hence the most unexplored part on Earth. Working in this environment makes monitoring and intervention much more difficult and raises unique challenges. As this trend gains momentum, players are investing in the rapid development of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) and remotely operated vehicles (ROV) technology. AUVs and ROVs are used for inspection, maintenance and repair of offshore equipment, which is used at subsea sites for exploration and production

Increased Investments in Offshore Oil & Gas and Wind Power Projects to Boost Growth

Growing investments in offshore oil & gas and wind power industry followed by increased offshore oil & gas decommissioning activities, ocean data and mapping are the key factors driving the demand for AUVs and ROVs. Technological advancements in offshore systems have opened up new frontiers, enabled safer operations and increased the capabilities of AUVs and ROVs. Potential oil & gas reserve discoveries in deep and ultra-deep waters are expected to open up new avenues for the market.

In the offshore sector, the security of offshore equipment has been tightened while keeping in mind the demands of environmental legislation. Rapid advancements in technology will continue to engineer further growth in the oil & gas unmanned vehicles sector. Smart devices will enable improved operational management and better risk management. Use of advanced materials will offer safer operations in difficult environments, making a strong case of the market.

Globally, the average size of ROV is reducing as instrumentation evolves. Smaller ROVs are preferred to large ROVs, keeping everything else constant, as the former offer better manoeuvring ability and lower deployment cost. The increased functionality in AUVs and the demand for floating oil production systems and remote fields have also been identified as key drivers for adopting AUVs.

On the flip side, the eccentric oil & gas market, COVID-19-based project delays, price constraints and some technological limitations are hindering market growth. ROVs have a much bigger and mature market than AUVs but the latter’s market is expected to grow significantly in coming years. The primary application for AUVs in military and scientific research and offshore wind in carrying out subsea inspections without the need for divers is projected to bode well for the market.

High Growth Potential of AUVs Compared to ROVs

Currently, ROV leads the market due to their wide application in different phases of offshore oilfield developments such as drilling support and vessel-based services, equipment installation, construction, pipeline inspection, survey and facilities inspection, maintenance, and repair. Hybrid ROVs (HROVs) are an interesting trend in the ROV market. These have tether-optional configurations that allow the vehicle to conduct programmed missions free from the tether. HROV configurations are expected to be an option increasingly offered by ROV manufacturers, particularly in the mini and small ROV markets.

Currently, the AUV market is smaller than the ROV market. However, the growth potential of AUVs is clearly large. Reduced power requirements, lower cost due to miniaturization of onboard instruments and vehicles, increased functionality and longer mission life are the key factors driving the demand for AUVs. Thus, ROVs are expected to lose market share and AUVs are expected to gain traction in the near future.

The majority of AUVs sold are rated for water depths less than 200m, illustrating the importance of small, light and shallow water AUVs for various end-markets. Currently, the military and security segment leads AUV market in terms of sales. The scientific research and oil & gas follows behind.

Rise of Offshore Oil & Gas Interventions in North America and Europe to Boost Regional Sales

Europe is expected to lead the global market owing to growing offshore oil & gas interventions. Norway and U.K have been especially witnessing surge in investments offshore wind power projects.

In June 2020, Kongsberg Maritime signed its first contract with Ocean Infinity for a new type of ROV launch and recovery system (LARS), designed to handle ROVs and AUVs from unmanned vessels. Furthermore, Europe connected 502 new offshore wind turbines to the grid across 10 projects in 2019. This brought 3,627 MW of new capacity addition.

A series of recent oil well discoveries in offshore eastern Canada has brought in a new wave of E&P spending in the past six months. Oil majors such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Equinor, and CNOOC are committed to spending $1.7 billion by 2021. BP Canada, Navitas Petroleum, Nexen Energy and Husky have committed to spending $763 million by 2022. Furthermore, by 2024, BHP, Equinor and Suncor plan to invest $1.4 billion in exploration. These discoveries along with development and investment plans are expected to boost the demand for AUV’s and ROV’s in North America over the forecast period.

The prospect for offshore drilling varies by location, yet offshore exploration in Brazil, Nigeria, Indonesia, Australia and the Gulf of Mexico are expected to be strong. On August 2020, Chevron Australia awarded two new contracts to DOF Subsea in order to support its North-West Shelf and nearshore subsea assets in Australia. DOF Subsea will provide Chevron with DP vessels, remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicle (AUVs), and intervention, inspection, management and engineering services. This is expected to drive the demand for AUV and ROV in Asia Pacific in the next few years.

In Middle East & Africa, Saudi Aramco inaugurated a torpedo-shaped AUV at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia in 2017. The AUV is designed to perform surveys to identify seabed clearance and potential debris around offshore platforms.

Collaboration is playing a key role in helping the industry develop technologies and solutions to increase autonomy and remote residency of the subsea systems. Also, oil & gas giants are forming strategic alliances with AUV and ROV technology providers in order to minimize overall spending.

Global AUV & ROV Market: Rise in Number of New Entrants to Increase Competition in the Global Market  

Top 10 companies hold more than 50% of global AUV and RV market. Key players involved in AUV & ROV market include TechnipFMC plc, Ocean Infinity, DOF Subsea AS, Subsea7, Forum Energy Technologies, DeepOcean AS., Sonardyne International Ltd., Oceaneering International Inc., Saipem, Fugro NV and Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc.

In 2019, Shell awarded Saipem a license to develop technology for FlatFish, a resident subsea autonomous vehicle designed to perform subsea asset inspections. This should be qualified for commercial application by 2020. In the year 2018, Sonardyne International Ltd. started a collaborative project with L3 ASV and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) to improve the autonomy for long-endurance AUVs.

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