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AUV for Offshore Oil and Gas IRM Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Type (Man-portable, Light Weight Vehicle (LWV), Heavy Weight Vehicle (HWV)), By Water Depth (Shallow Water, Deepwater, Ultra-deepwater), By Propulsion System (Electric System, Mechanical System, Hybrid System), and Regional Forecasts, 2022-2029

Last Updated: May 27, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI105148



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The global AUV for offshore oil and gas IRM market size was valued at USD 0.47 billion in 2021. The market is projected to grow from USD 0.55 billion in 2022 to USD 2.04 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 20.7% during the forecast period. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and staggering, with AUV for offshore oil & gas IRM experiencing lower-than-anticipated demand across all regions compared to pre-pandemic levels. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a decline of -16.8% in 2020 as compared to 2019.

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are computer-controlled systems that operate underneath the sea and have no physical connection with the operator. They are also self-guiding and self-powered vehicles. The AUVs are generally portable or can be long-endurance gliders or extensive systems designed to operate at different water depths. AUVs are considered to be the most viable replacement for remotely operated vehicles. The better operating speed, better mobility, more extensive spatial range, no manual interruption, excellent navigation algorithms, and improved data quality along the reduced cost of operation are some of the prominent factors which have favored the adoption of AUVs over Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) in the Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance (IRM) industry


Supply Chain Disruption and Travel Bans Delayed Projects during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the offshore sector across the globe. To control the spread of the pandemic, governments have imposed a nationwide lockdown and travel ban, which further caused supply chain disruptions across various industrial verticals. The supply chain disruption has caused a delay in the deployment of AUVs at the offshore site. The exploration and production activities were also put on hold in the initial phase of the pandemic. This factor has further impacted the lined-up AUVs projects. The investment in the market was also significantly hampered owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


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Increasing Maintenance of Oil & Gas Pipeline Coupled with Expanding Pipelines Infrastructure Drives Market Growth

Pipelines are one of the significant applications for the AUV offshore services in the oil & gas sector due to periodic maintenance to mitigate leak detection risks and others, thereby driving the market's growth. For instance, in October 2021, DOF Subsea announced a partnership agreement with Ocean Floor Geophysics Inc. (OFG). Under this deal, the company will provide Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) services to the worldwide offshore business.

The collaboration of these companies focuses on leveraging the expansion of the OFG AUV non-contact Integrated Cathodic Protection (ICP) inspection system to allow the sharing of resources on numerous pipeline inspection surveys majorly for the oil & gas industry, resulting in an outline for a synchronized response to the increasing demand for AUV surveys.


Rising Adoption of AUV for Offshore Oil and Gas IRM across Various Industries to Augment Market Growth

The rising energy demand coupled with increasing population urbanization across emerging countries such as China, India, and others is likely to increase the oil & gas exploration activities to cater to the rising need for energy. The growing exploration of oil & gas in offshore locations has increased the size and sophistication of offshore installations, one of the leading market drivers of the market. Furthermore, the demand for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is also increasing. The expansion of storage terminals and pipelines creates growth opportunities for the global market.

As per the International Renewable Energy (IEA) 2021 report, the demand for natural gas is expected to progressively recover in 2021 after a drop of 4% in 2020 as consumption returns close to its pre-crisis level in mature markets and will benefit from an economic rebound and lower natural gas prices.

Increasing Demand for AUVs for Remote Operation to Promote the Market Growth

The long-term growth in the energy demand results in rising exploration and production activities across the oil & gas sector. The rise in such activities makes the key players increase the developments in the oil & gas industry, which includes site investigation, development & operation, and decommissioning of the project, further allowing their clients to avail optimized and sustainable process, which drives the AUV for offshore oil and gas IRM market growth.

One such recent development in this context occurred in August 2021, when ExxonMobil discovered around 9 billion barrels of oil in Guyana over time. The company has appointed Oceaneering, an offshore services firm, to deliver two surveys offshore Guyana for its sustainable operation. By agreement, Oceaneering used the DP-2 Cape Davis. The DP-2 is armed with the 3,000 m-rated OS-VI AUV, geotechnical sampling, towed geophysical sensors, and testing equipment to carry out a towed and autonomous underwater vehicle geophysical survey and a shallow geotechnical survey off the coast of Guyana. 


High Volatility in Oil & Gas Prices May Hinder Market Growth

The volatility in oil and gas prices is a key factor that can hinder the market's growth in the offshore oil and gas industry. As production and price depend solely on global demand, a constant need leads to a stable market. Any shortfall directly affects production and the market growth.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), on February 08, 2022, the Brent crude oil spot prices averaged USD 87 per barrel in January, which increased by USD 12 per barrel from December 2021. This volatility affects disruption in supply and demand and affects the operations of the oil & gas industry, further acting as a significant market restraint of AUV for offshore oil & gas IRM.


By Type Analysis

Light Weight Vehicle Segment to Hold Largest Market Share Owing to Maximum Exploration Activities at Moderate Depths

Based on type, the market is segregated into man-portable, Light Weight Vehicle (LWV) and Heavy Weight Vehicle (HWV). The LWV segment holds the largest market share as most exploration activities are carried out at moderate depths. The depth of operation and the type of AUV deployed are essential factors to consider as the cost of deployment for heavy and light weight vehicles differs significantly.

The light autonomous underwater vehicle is a rugged, practical, and lightweight vehicle, which is easy to deploy, operate, and recover by a single person. This vehicle allows users to integrate new instruments, actuators, algorithms, and behaviors quickly.

The HWV segment is anticipated to grow significantly during the forecast period. Ultra-deepwater exploration activities are increasing at a significant pace across several regions around the world. The ultra-deepwater exploration requires the deployment of heavyweight vehicles. The investment for HWV is also growing, further driving the market growth of AUV for offshore oil and gas IRM during the forecast period.

By Water Depth Analysis

Deepwater Segment is Projected to Hold Major Share due to Rising Production in Water Depths 

The global market can be trifurcated by water depth into shallow water, deepwater, and ultra-deepwater. The deepwater segment is projected to hold a major share during the forecast timeline due to rising production from multiple bulk capacity reservoirs in water depths ranging from 305 to over 1,500 meters. Furthermore, detecting new reserves with significant production capacities over an extended interval is set to boost the segment landscape positively.

The shallow water segment is anticipated to account for a significant market share of AUV for offshore oil and gas IRM over the forecast period. Installing wind towers in greater depth has the advantage of developing high-capacity wind farms. But, the market potential trend is expected to shift toward shallow water installation where water depth is less than 30 meters, which is much easier and reduces capital expenditure simultaneously. Most developing offshore wind energy countries, such as China, South Korea, Vietnam, Ireland, and others, focus on shallow water projects due to the availability of wind farm sites in shallow waters.

By Propulsion System Analysis

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Electric Segment to Dominate Owing to Rising Preference for Battery Powered Equipment   

Based on propulsion system, the market is segregated into electric system, mechanical system, and hybrid system. The electric system segment held a dominant share of the market in 2021. Most Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) applications are electrically powered, deriving their energy from chemical reactions within a battery. Also, the electrical propulsion systems are currently preferred owing to the use of batteries which can vary as per the duration of the unit deployment.

The hybrid system is the fastest-growing segment of the market. Hybrid propulsion systems for AUV applications combine combustion engines with battery power to optimize engine operation while reducing emissions. These are ideal with flexible operation profiles and running hours with varying power demands. These hybrid systems reduce fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, maintenance costs, and noise production while increasing efficiency.


North America AUV for Offshore Oil and Gas IRM Market Size, 2021 (USD Billion)

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North America to Hold Largest Market Share due to Rising Deployment of AUVs across Various Applications

Geographically, the global market has been analyzed across five key regions, North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East & Africa, and Latin America. North America is estimated to dominate the market during the forecast period owing to the increasing deployment of underwater vehicles to enhance inspection and data acquisition. The region has been the epicenter of most research and development activities for autonomous underwater vehicles. Also, it has the maximum deployment of these in research, military and commercial applications, including offshore oil and gas. The region is also home to leading global players of AUV for offshore oil and gas IRM.

Asia Pacific is projected to exhibit healthy growth during the forecast period. Among the present deployed or used AUVs around the globe, China, India, and Southeast Asian countries account for many such deployments. China is the undisputed leader in the region due to enormous offshore oil and gas production. For context, Bohai is one of the key operating areas for China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Company. The operational area in Bohai is mainly shallow water with approximately 10 to 30 meters.

Europe is also likely to witness growth at a rapid pace during the forecast period. The region is highly focused on offshore projects as such projects are likely to be the primary source of hydrocarbon resources in the coming decade. Global Data Upstream Analytics states that offshore fields will account for over 97% of additional European oil production by 2025. Eighty-one offshore oil and gas projects are in the works, with the first expected to start in 2025. In this energy sector, the U.K. has the most significant project portfolio. It has 37 planned or ongoing projects. The above factor will likely drive growth in Europe during the forecast period.

Besides, Latin America will be the fastest-growing region in 2021. Latin American countries such as Brazil & Argentina, and Columbia are significantly investing in oil & gas exploration & production activities. With the growing fossil fuel demand, the IRM market in the oil & gas industry will experience substantial growth across the region. Furthermore, the Middle East and Africa's offshore deepwater and ultra-deepwater space has continued to attract oil explorers and producers in increasing their operations. This factor will likely drive the Middle East & Africa market during the forecast period.


Key Players to Increase their R&D Investments to Enhance their Consumer Reach Worldwide

Significantly a few AUV for offshore oil and gas IRM players have developed autonomous underwater vehicles among the present service providers for inspection repair, and maintenance in offshore oil and gas. Many AUVs are testing to be ready for the market with the required capabilities. The fragmented market for the industry has seen numerous new technological advancements coming up to keep pace with the top-performing players. Considering all the scenarios, Fugro, Technip, and Schlumberger, the leading IRM service providers for oil and gas fields, are investing in the research and development of AUVs, which is expected to lead the AUV for offshore oil and gas IRM market in the coming years.


  • Fugro (Netherlands)

  • Bluestream (Netherlands)

  • James Fisher and Sons plc (U.K.)

  • Boskalis (Netherlands)

  • Starke Marine (Malaysia)

  • Sapura Energy Berhad (Malaysia)

  • Petrofac (Jersey)

  • TechnipFMC (U.K.)

  • Oceaneering International (U.S.)

  • Schlumberger (U.S.)

  • Baker Hughes (U.S.)

  • Aker Solutions (Norway)

  • Houston Mechatronics (U.S.)

  • Forum Energy Technologies, Inc. (U.S.)

  • Saipem (Italy)

  • Subsea 7 (U.K.)

  • Saab Seaeye (U.K.)

  • Sonardyne International Ltd (U.K.)

  • DeepOcean (Norway)

  • IKM Subsea (Norway)

  • ROVOP (U.K.)

  • ROVCO (U.K.)


  • February 2022 –Petrofac, a leading provider of services to the global energy industry, was awarded two new contracts with Cairn Oil & Gas and Vedanta Limited, which will be the company's first significant Operation & Maintenance (O&M) contract in the country.

  • January 2021 – Dive Technologies chose a whole set of Sonardyne machinery for tracking, navigation, and control its large displacement Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) program, DIVE-LD. The DIVE-LD AUV is being established to meet many long-durability mission necessities across the research, commercial, and defense sectors. AUV will also be equipped with long-distance and long-period working ability while minimizing difficulty and payload space consumption. The AUV will be using Sonardyne's hybrid navigator SPRINT-Nav.

  • January 2021 – Boskalis completed the acquisition of Rever Offshore's subsea services business. Rever (ex-Bibby Offshore) is a subsea construction, inspection, repair, and maintenance specialist. The deal will strengthen Boskalis's position in the subsea services market in northwest Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and offshore wind.

  • November 2020 – Aker Solutions won a framework agreement with Equinor to provide maintenance and modifications services at the Peregrino field, located offshore Brazil. The contract has a four-year fixed period and includes an option for a two-year extension.

  • June 2020 Fugro announced the contract it won for a three-year IRM by SEAMEC LIMITED (Seamec) to support their asset management project for ONGC off the west coast of India.


An Infographic Representation of AUV for Offshore Oil and Gas IRM Market

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The report on the global AUV for offshore oil and gas IRM market highlights leading regions worldwide to offer a better understanding to the user. Furthermore, the research report provides analysis and accurate data, insights into the latest industry trends, and analyzes technologies deployed rapidly globally. It further highlights some growth-stimulating factors & restraints and market share, helping the reader gain in-depth knowledge about the industry.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



Value (USD Billion)


By Type, Water Depth, Propulsion System, and Region

By Type

  • Man-portable

  • Light Weight Vehicle (LWV)

  • Heavy Weight Vehicle (HWV)

By Water Depth

  • Shallow Water

  • Deepwater

  • Ultra-deepwater

By Propulsion System

  • Electric System

  • Hybrid System

  • Mechanical System

By Region

  • North America (By Type, By Water Depth, By Propulsion System, By Country)

    • U.S.

    • Canada

  • Europe (By Type, By Water Depth, By Propulsion System, By Country)

    • U.K.

    • Norway

    • Netherlands

    • Rest of Europe

  • Asia Pacific (By Type, By Water Depth, By Propulsion System, By Country)

    • China

    • India

    • Australia

    • Southeast Asia

    • Rest of Asia Pacific

  • Latin America (By Type, By Water Depth, By Propulsion System, By Country)

    • Mexico

    • Brazil

    • Rest of Latin America

  • Middle East and Africa (By Type, By Water Depth, By Propulsion System, By Country)

    • Saudi Arabia

    • UAE

    • Iran

    • West Africa

  • Rest of the Middle East & Africa

Frequently Asked Questions

The Fortune Business Insights study shows that the global market was USD 0.47 billion in 2021.

The global market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 20.7% in the forecast period.

The market size of North America stood at USD 0.14 billion in 2021.

Based on propulsion system, the electric system segment held the dominant share in the market.

The global market is anticipated to reach USD 2.04 billion by 2029, growing at a substantial CAGR of 20.7% during the forecast period (2022-2029).

Rising adoption of AUV for offshore oil and gas IRMs across various industries to augment the market growth.

High volatility in oil & gas prices may hinder the market growth.

The major players in the market are Fugro, Bluestream, James Fisher and Sons plc, Boskalis, and Starke Marine.

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