Italian oil and gas contractor Saipem has secured a subsea service contract from Equinor, on behalf of the Njord licence, for €40m (£35.63) at its Njord field development in the Norwegian Sea.

Under the 10-year contract, which includes five two-year options for additional extension, Saipem will carry out inspection using a wireless underwater intervention drone and an ROV.

The contract will make Norwegian multinational energy company Equinor the first user of technology expected to be completed in 2020.

Equinor executive vice president, technology, projects and drilling Anders Opedal said: “This is a historic contract in the oil and gas industry. It is the first contract signed for the use of advanced wireless drone services.

“We are pleased to secure a contract that will bring subsea technology a big step forward.

“Equinor aims to help shape the development of this type of technology, which this contract underscores.”

The technology will employ Hydrone-R and Hydrone-W

Equinor said the new technology will employ an underwater intervention drone (Hydrone-R) and an all-electric work class ROV (Hydrone-W).

The company added that the drone may be autonomous below the Njord A pltform for months between scheduled maintenance. Hydrone-W will be connected to the platform like a traditional ROV. Both macines are electric and can be operated without a surface vessel.

The technology is expected to help in reduction of carbon emissions along with the response time.

Additionally, the weather conditions will not affect the operations .

Njord operations manager Olav Godø said: “It is very exciting to be a pioneer for this type of technology offshore. Enabling personnel to plan and perform operations from shore rather than being flown offshore, this pathbreaking technology will also reduce costs.”

The underwater drone will use the Equinor’s proprietary docking station for data transmission and subsea induction charging that will be installed below Njord. Hydrone-W is expected to be fully developed in 2021 and will be used for heavy intervention work.