UPDATE 1-Schlumberger forms robotic ocean-monitor venture
June 22 |
June 22 (Reuters) - Liquid Robotics, a maker of automated technology for measuring ocean data, has formed a venture with Schlumberger NV to deploy more of the startup's seafaring robots for the oil and gas industry.
The Wave Gliders, as they are known, operate in remote parts of the ocean and can measure things such as fish populations and oil spills. A few were even sent to the Japanese coast last year to measure radiation after the nuclear disaster there.
The formation of the Houston-based joint venture comes only a year after Liquid Robotics received a $20 million investment from VantagePoint Capital Partners along with $2 million in funding from Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield services company.
Ashok Belani, Schlumberger's chief technology officer, saw Wave Gliders as especially useful in offshore exploration for seismic, subsea and environmental monitoring. Schlumberger, for example, has a large division that produces seismic mapping of underwater reservoirs for its clients drilling offshore.
Liquid Robotics already earns about a third of its revenue from oil and gas companies, the company said last year. The Sunnyvale, California-based company is run by Bill Vass, a former president of Sun Microsystems, now owned by Oracle Corp .
Since Wave Gliders run for up to a year without a crew, fuel or dedicated support vessels, Vass says the savings for companies that use them can be large. Tracking oil levels in water from a boat can cost $30,000-$70,000 a day, he said, but subscribing to Wave Glider data might cost around $500,000 for the full year.
The technology converts the up-and-down motion of waves to forward motion, so they can propel themselves without big batteries.
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