Category: OptaSense

28 Apr 2014

OptaSense selected as one of three finalists for 2014 MacRobert Award

April 28th, 2014

Three candidates emerge for the UKs premier engineering prize

28th April 2014 – OptaSense – the UK company creating the ‘Earth’s Nervous System™’; Cobalt – an SME using cutting-edge materials science to fight terrorism; and Rolls-Royce – the engineering giant behind the world’s first vertical take-off system for a supersonic fighter jet, have been revealed as this year’s finalists for the UK’s most prestigious engineering award.

Synonymous with spotting the ‘next big thing’ in the technology sector, the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award is the UK’s longest running national prize for engineering. It identifies outstanding innovation with proven commercial promise and tangible societal benefit.

This year, judges have shortlisted three outstanding candidates from the UK’s thriving engineering sector. Finalist OptaSense, has developed technology that can turn any existing fibre-optic cable into a highly sensitive real-time microphone. With millions of miles of fibre optic cable underground and undersea around the world, the ability to turn this into a ‘listening device’ has enormous potential in terms of security monitoring, and many other applications. It is already being used to improve the safety of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), for example, and to save the lives of soldiers deployed in hostile environments.

John Robinson FREng, Chair of the MacRobert Award judging panel, said, “Each of this year’s finalists has demonstrated excellent innovation and technical expertise but, perhaps more importantly, the significance of how this is being applied for the benefit of society is exceptional. These three UK organisations, each of a different size and stage of business development, truly represent the breadth of the UK’s engineering capability and its global importance. They are excellent examples of the economic importance of the nation’s engineering sector, which the Academy continues to emphasise through its Engineering for Growth campaign.”

The 2014 finalists:

OptaSense – creating the ‘Earth’s Nervous System’

OptaSense, a QinetiQ-owned company, has developed technology that can turn any existing fibre-optic cable into a highly sensitive real-time microphone. With millions of miles of fibre optic cable underground and undersea around the world, the ability to turn this into a ‘listening’ device has enormous potential in terms of perimeter security monitoring, fracking safety, traffic management, rail protection and more.

Sensitive enough to detect footsteps, vehicles, digging, or even a helicopter passing overhead, the technology is already being used as a means of advanced security monitoring for perimeters and assets, such as in the military where it is saving soldiers’ lives, and in the oil and gas industry where it can prevent illegal ‘hot-tapping’ of oil pipelines and precisely detect and locate leaks, saving millions of pounds per incident.

The technology can also be used to monitor the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process, which is increasingly used to recover oil and gas from shale. Fracking has proven controversial due to concerns about current limitations in understanding what effect it has on the surrounding rock, but OptaSense’s down-hole monitoring system improves operators’ awareness of potential issues in real-time for rapid response, and can detect seismic activity in or close to the wellbore enabling safe shutdown if required.

Magnus McEwen-King, Managing Director of OptaSense said “We are extremely pleased to be nominated as a finalist for such a prestigious engineering innovation award. The technical team at OptaSense have pioneered the development of distributed acoustic sensing and are recognised as world leaders in this field. We firmly believe this British technology will become the Earth’s Nervous System protecting the majority of the global energy and transport arteries ensuring a safer and more efficient movement of people and product around the world.”

Notes for Editors

1. About the MacRobert Award. First presented in 1969, the MacRobert Award is widely regarded as the most coveted in the industry. Founded by the MacRobert Trusts, the Award is now presented by the Royal Academy of Engineering after a prize fund was established with donations from the MacRobert Trusts, the Academy and British industry. For more information, visit: www.raeng.org.uk/prizes/macrobert

Previous winners include EMI Ltd, who in 1972 developed the CT Scanner, a vital medical device that can now be found in almost every hospital in the developed world. In 2002 Cambridge Display Technologies won the MacRobert Award for its light emitting polymer displays, which are now used extensively in televisions and smart phones. Last year’s winner was software company RealVNC, which judges predicted could be a billion dollar company within five years.

21 Apr 2014

OptaSense, a QinetiQ company, wins two Queen’s Awards – for International Trade and for Engineering Innovation 2014

April 21st, 2014

Farnborough, 21 April 2014: OptaSense, the global leader in Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), announces that it has been presented with both the Queen’s Award for International Trade and the Queen’s Award for Engineering Innovation.

QA_InternationalTrade2014QA_Innovation2014The awards are conferred annually by HM Queen Elizabeth II, on the advice of the Prime Minister, to organisations with outstanding performance in international trade, innovation and sustainable development. They celebrate and encourage excellence in UK business.

OptaSense has won the Queen’s Award for Innovation for its ground-breaking DAS technology which turns standard fibre-optic cable into an array of thousands of virtual microphones right along the fibre length. This enables customers to ‘hear’ everything that is happening in and around their asset; OptaSense uses advanced sonar signal processing techniques, originally developed by QinetiQ, to deliver customers with real-time Decision Ready Data™.

This data is used to monitor and protect critical national infrastructure, for example preventing attacks on oil pipelines or to increase the productivity and safety of oil wells by improved measurements without intervening in the well itself. Wherever OptaSense is deployed it enables customers to use real time data to improve operational safety, enhance security, increase productivity and ultimately deliver improved profitability.

It also wins the Queen’s Award for International Trade having significantly grown overseas sales earnings over the last three years and is now operating in more than 40 countries, most recently in China, Columbia and Iraq.

As part of QinetiQ Group, OptaSense has benefited from QinetiQ’s heritage in signal processing expertise and world class facilities to develop its distributed fibre sensing capabilities which are now being used in a number of commercial applications.

Utilising its proprietary Distributed Acoustic Sensing technology, Optasense provides oil well optimisation capabilities like hydraulic fracture profiling and vertical seismic profiling services to the upstream oil & gas industry. In addition its technology is used to provide security and operational process monitoring to long linear assets like pipelines and transport networks.

Leo Quinn, QinetiQ Group CEO, said: “OptaSense exemplifies how long term investment in science and technology capability in the UK can lead to world beating engineering innovation. Our philosophy of open innovation where we invest alongside government and commercial partners into research, development and solutions engineering has helped to develop OptaSense into a commercial business capable of changing the way multiple industries will operate in future. QinetiQ is proud of our British engineers and scientists, who lead the world in many areas of technology.”

Magnus McEwen-King, Managing Director of OptaSense, said: “We are delighted to be recognised with two Queen’s Awards which are testament to the hard work and commitment of all those who work for and with OptaSense. We believe this technology will transform the way global energy and transport industries move product and people around more efficiently and safely. We are already providing the owners of oil wells, pipelines, roads, railways and borders with the ability to monitor every meter of these assets.  Fibre optic cables are already in place next to most of the world’s critical arteries and we believe that by converting the world’s fibre optic cables into a distributed sensor network we can build The Earth’s Nervous System™.”

Since its creation in 2007, OptaSense has grown to 120 full time employees with overseas offices in Dubai, USA, Canada and Australia, as well as investing into UK research development and manufacturing capabilities. OptaSense is headquartered in Farnborough, Hampshire, and has its manufacturing and research facilities in Bristol, Somerset and Winfrith, Dorset.

For further information please contact:

  • QinetiQ Press Office – pressoffice@qinetiq.com / +44 (0) 1252 39 3500
  • Rebecca Mitchell, Maitland – rmitchell@maitland.co.uk/ +44 (0)207 379 5151
01 Jul 2013

Optasense signs Kazakhstan partnership agreement

July 1st, 2013

Contract Signed With Avencom On Prime Minister Trade Mission to Kazakhstan

Optasense, a QinetiQ company, has signed a partnership agreement with Avencom, leading technology supplier to Kazakhstan Oil and Gas companies, to provide its world leading Distributed Acoustic Sensing services. The partnership was signed during the UK Government’s trade mission, led by the Prime Minister, accompanied by leading British oil and gas businesses.

Over the last four years OptaSense has worked with Avencom to implement pipeline security monitoring systems on over 1000km of pipeline in Kazakhstan. The new partnership will bring Optasense’s new Four-Mode leak detection system to potential customers in the region. Having already successfully worked with regional businesses such as KTO, KPO and KCP OptaSense already has a proven track record in the region preventing incidents along pipelines.

Magnus McEwen-King, OptaSense MD said, “We are pleased to be able to extend and formalize our on-going relationship with Avencom. As a British company partnerships like this are vital for us and having the support of the Government is important to our future growth. Our unique technology helps companies reduce operating costs and minimize environmental issues. Avencom have been able to develop and train highly skilled technical operators who can install, operate and maintain our fibre sensing technology.”

Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green said, “Kazakhstan is emerging as the dominant economy in central Asia and offers many opportunities for British businesses small and large across a wide variety of sectors. This first ever visit by a UK Prime Minister demonstrates our commitment to strengthen the trade and investment links between our two countries.  I am delighted that OptaSense has secured new business in Kazakhstan and I wish them every success.”

Optasense deployed Distributed Acoustic Sensing, converts standard fibre optic cable into thousands of virtual microphones along its length – enabling operators to effectively “listen” for third party intrusion (pipelines) and detect or even prevent leaks in pipelines before they occur. The new Four-Mode leak detection software allows customers to monitor for – negative pressure wave monitoring for rupture events; acoustic signature recognition of high pressure leaks; fast Distributed Temperature Gradient Sensing (DTGS); and ground heave strain monitoring – into a single platform, providing a comprehensive leak detection system.

24 May 2012

OptaSense signs a Global Commercialisation and Framework Agreement with Shell

May 24th, 2012

OptaSense, a QinetiQ company, has announced the signing of a Global Commercialisation and Framework Agreement with Shell. The agreement sets out the basis on which Shell businesses can contract with OptaSense directly to use its unique Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) system. The initial service to be provided under the agreement is a commercial hydraulic fracture monitoring service.

The OptaSense Distributed Acoustic Sensing system is providing a new window on in-well treatments. The hydraulic fracture monitoring service provides real-time monitoring of fracture fluid injection locations and provides an estimate of the volume of water and proppant uptake at these locations. With real-time monitoring of the operation at the treatment zone, operators are able to optimise the hydraulic fracturing process in a safe, reliable and repeatable way.

Commercial services have now commenced in the United States and Canada with hydraulic fracture monitoring underway in tight sands and shale gas wells. These services are expected to be extended into new territories in the near future.

The hydraulic fracture monitoring services were developed in collaboration with Shell as part of the global research and development agreement announced in 2010.

OptaSense Managing Director, Magnus McEwen-King said,

“This Global Commercialisation Framework Agreement allows us to work with Shell around the world and is a positive step forward for our business as we look to expand both our international reach and commercial service offerings. It will also mean that we can continue to invest in jobs, having already created 100 new jobs in the last 12 months.”

For further information please contact:

  • QinetiQ Press Office – pressoffice@qinetiq.com / +44 (0) 1252 39 3500
  • Rebecca Mitchell, Maitland – rmitchell@maitland.co.uk/ +44 (0)207 379 5151

Notes for Editors

  • Conventional monitoring technologies are unable to survive the fracturing process whereas OptaSense is a breakthrough technology that has been developed in collaboration with Shell and can monitor the fracturing process by listening to a fibre optic cable attached to the well itself.
  • OptaSense provides wells with their own nervous system enabling operators to react to events as and when they occur.
  • OptaSense can monitor that the propant fluid that is injected into the borehole gets to the right place, and if not, modify the process straight away.
  • OptaSense is the World leader in distributed fibre sensing and operating in 37 countries globally with operations across multiple industries including Oil & Gas, Defence & Security, Transport and Utilities. It is managed as an autonomous subsidiary of the QinetiQ Group.
  • A FTSE250 company, QinetiQ uses its domain knowledge to provide technical support and know-how to customers in the global aerospace, defence and security markets. QinetiQ’s unique position enables it to be a trusted partner to government organisations, predominantly in the UK and the US, including defence departments, intelligence services and security agencies.

Notes for Editors

About OptaSense

  • OptaSense is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the QinetiQ Group
  • It is a platform technology which has applications in a number of markets, including infrastructure security where the technology is already in use to monitor 13,000kms of assets, principally providing leak detection and third party intrusion detection for oil and gas pipelines.
  • OptaSense is the world leader in Distributed Acoustic Sensing and operating in 40 countries globally with operations across multiple industries including Oil & Gas, Defence & Security, Transport and Utilities.
  • Website: www.optasense.com 

About QinetiQ

  • A FTSE250 company, QinetiQ uses its domain knowledge to provide technical support and know-how to customers in the global aerospace, defence and security markets. QinetiQ’s unique position enables it to be a trusted partner to government organisations, predominantly in the UK and the US, including defence departments, intelligence services and security agencies.
  • Follow QinetiQ on twitter @QinetiQ
  • Website: www.qinetiq.com