SEAMOR Marine debuts innovative ROV with 3km capacity for Panama Hydroelectric Project

NANAIMO, BRITISH COLUMBIA, March 31, 2020 – This month SEAMOR Marine’s latest innovation, a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) with 3-kilometer capacity, arrived in western Panama, where one of the country’s hydroelectric generation companies has begun using it for tunnel inspections of two hydroelectric projects on the Old Chiriqui River. The ROV 3-kilometer fiber optic tether and reel system expands the reach of SEAMOR’s previous systems by one kilometer.

“We are excited to bring this new innovation to the pipeline industry,” said Mr. Robin Li, President of SEAMOR Marine. “The ROV 3-kilometer fiber optic tether and reel system expands the range of our vehicles from two kilometers to three kilometers, allowing our clients to perform long-distance inspections more cost-efficiently and with less of an environmental impact.”

Panama’s hydroelectric generation company, Electron Investment SA (EISA), purchased SEAMOR Marine’s Chinook ROV to perform 7.1 kilometers of tunnel and penstock inspection at its Old Chiriqui River hydroelectric project and identify any areas in need of repair.

The Monte Lirio project opened in 2014 and generates 51.6 MW of clean energy. The Pando project opened in 2019 and generates 33.3 MW.

“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.”

The inspections required a deep-water ROV, which is why SEAMOR paired the 3-kilometer fiber optics tether with its Chinook ROV. Able to dive to 600 meters (2,000 feet), 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 SEAMOR’s partners in Finland consulted with the EISA team onsite to operate the ROV system in long tunnels. Early testing was successfully carried out with a large excess of power available in reserve.

“It was the first time engineers from EISA had piloted an underwater ROV, and all went smoothly — a true testament to the professionalism of all involved and to the ease of use and high quality of our systems,” said Li.

Once the tunnel inspection is complete, the EISA team plans to use the Chinook ROV for other tasks, serving the local hydroelectric generation industry with state-of-the-art technology for tunnel and penstock inspection. SEAMOR’s ROV systems have been designed with a modular platform that allows users to swap accessories or upgrade their ROV with new features after purchase. 

The Chinook is the mid-sized vehicle in SEAMOR’s line of ROVs, able to dive to 600 meters (2,000 feet). The Mako ROV is the company’s largest ROV and can support a payload of up to 22.5 kilograms (50 pounds). The Steelhead ROV, SEAMOR’s smallest vehicle, is more compact and suited for work in confined spaces in depths of up to 300 meters (1,000 feet).

Based in Nanaimo, British Columbia on Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast, SEAMOR Marine Ltd. designs and manufactures underwater observation and inspection-class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and modular accessories. SEAMOR sells worldwide and has ROVs operating on every continent and in every major body of water around the globe. The company’s ROVs have been used in a variety of fields including aquaculture, underwater archaeology, Antarctic geology, and pipeline and dam inspection. SEAMOR has collaborated on research projects with NASA, the Defence Research and Development Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.


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Mr. Robin Li (President)



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Phone: 1 (250) 729-8899