Undersea mapping company Ocean Infinity will remain off the coast of Western Australia for now after securing a contract with Woodside Energy in the wake of its bold search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
The company Wednesday confirmed its cutting-edge technology would be deployed to conduct a deepwater route survey off the North-West coast for Woodside.
The high-tech vessel leased by the company, Seabed Constructor, discontinued its search for MH370 on June 8 and was Wednesday off the coast of Dampier.
It had continued the search after it was officially ended by the Malaysian government on May 28, a decision that took the Seabed COnstructor just north of latitude 25S along the seventh arc marking the last handshake with the aircraft.
The company has said it hopes to again offer its services in the search for MH370 sometime in the future but it did not indicate how long its contract with Woodside would keep it in the area.
The ship and its fleet of eight Hugin autonomous underwater vehicles will provide data in support of Woodside’s Scarborough field development, about 357 kilometres west-north-west of the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.
Ocean Infinity said the contract involved a deepwater geophysical pre-engineering route survey extending about 300kms from the Scarborough subsea field towards existing onshore liquid natural gas processing facilities on the Burrup Peninsula.
The contract is due to start in the middle of this month and the Seabed Constructor will be operating in water from 950 to 1400 metres deep and deploy multiple AUVs to collect the information.
“This contract represents Ocean Infinity’s ability to support the offshore energy sector,” OI chief executive Oliver Plunkett said in a statement. “We have worked closely with Woodside in developing a robust solution which meets their demand for high-quality data delivered in a time-critical, innovative and cost-effective way.“
Experts who have followed the search continue to debate the possible location of the crash site.
Victor Ianello, a member of the Independent Group of experts, has suggested looking along the 7th arc at latitudes north of 25S, looking at a previously search ed latitudes but a greater distance perpendicular to the 7th arc or rescanning areas where the debris field might have been missed.
A group of air traffic experts that supports the theory that the plane was still under control at the end of its flight and has suggested it may be near Christmas Island.
Pilots and others who believe the aircraft was still under control at the end of the flight believe it is further south.