Saipem included in Google Arts and Culture online exhibition

Source: press release, 6 March 2019

OIE – “An underwater balloon defending the sea”
OIE – “An underwater balloon defending the sea” (photo: Saipem)

Saipem, provider of engineering, drilling and construction for major energy and infrastructure projects, was included by Google Arts and Culture in “Everything starts from an idea,” the largest online exhibition ever made dedicated to inventions and discoveries. Saipem is present in the exhibition with Offset Installation Equipment (OIE), the only technology in the world to stop the spill at sea of an erupting oil well. The OIE technology was selected by Assolombarda among the most interesting inventions and discoveries for the exhibition and subsequently presented to Google in order to be included in the virtual catalogue of the same.

Thanks to its sophisticated underwater robotic technologies, Offset Installation System (OIE) is a system that allows to seal the spill of an underwater oil well in an uncontrolled eruption, significantly reducing the intervention time in case of environmental catastrophes. Its design dates back to the aftermath of the incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, when a nonprofit consortium was created by the main oil companies that produces four “caps”, located in as many strategic corners of the globe, to block any oil wells in uncontrolled eruption.

OIE was born as an answer to the problems of installation in medium‐low depths of the four “plugs” where it is not possible to operate with a ship. In 2011, in fact, the Consortium launched an international tender involving the major operators in the sector to identify a suitable solution. Saipem designed and proposed OIE project, which won in 2012. Today, Oil Spill Response Limited owns and manages the technologies developed by the Consortium on behalf of the industry, including OIE.

The OIE installation technology works as a sort of “underwater hot air balloon”, weighs about 250 tons and is controlled remotely by robots capable of aligning the “plug” with high precision. Entirely Made in Italy, the technology was created, developed and developed by Saipem in 6 years of work, with over 200 engineers and specialists involved, 4,000 drawings and documents produced, half a million hours worked and a supply chain of over 150 companies involved, almost all Italian.

OIE is kept in the Saipem base in Trieste, where Saipem guarantees system maintenance, offshore operators, the training of the same and members of Oil Spill Response Limited and customers (typically, oil companies). The technology is ready to be mobilised at any time in case of need, thanks to a technical team trained specifically to use the system.

To discover OIE on Google’s Arts and Culture at the following link, where high‐definition images, videos and a virtual visit to Saipem’s hangar in Trieste are also available.