SEAMOR Marine Ltd. says its new remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with a 3-km-long fiber optic tether and reel system capacity will be used for tunnel inspections of two hydroelectric projects on the Old Chiriqui River in western Panama.
Electron Investment SA (EISA) purchased SEAMOR Marine’s Chinook ROV to perform 7.1 km of tunnel and penstock inspection and identify any areas in need of repair. The two projects where it will be used are 51.6-MW Monte Lirio project, which opened in 2014, and 33.3-MW Pando, which opened in 2019.
The inspections required a deep-water ROV, which is why SEAMOR paired the 3-km fiber optics tether with its Chinook ROV. Able to dive to 600 meters, the Chinook ROV is equipped with a sensor skid carrying two Imagenex sonars: the 965A digital multi-beam imaging sonar and the DT360 multi-beam profiling sonar. These sonars are operated simultaneously using an Ethernet switch to the fiber optic tether multiplexer, allowing the EISA team to navigate and inspect tunnel walls in almost zero-visibility conditions. Auto depth and auto heading functions help them safely navigate the tunnel.
“One of the main reasons we chose an ROV to inspect the tunnels was that it was much less costly both financially and environmentally than the alternative of draining the tunnels for inspection,” said Iván Parra, civil engineer at EISA. “The operation will now be completed with a very small environmental footprint using SEAMOR technology and expertise.”
Once the tunnel inspection is complete, the EISA team plans to use the Chinook ROV for other tasks. SEAMOR says its ROV systems have been designed with a modular platform that allows users to swap accessories or upgrade their ROV with new features after purchase.
SEAMOR Marine manufactures subsea observation and inspection-class ROVs and a range of modular accessories and related devices.