SBT Energy with University of Edinburgh

Smart Buoy Concepts

SBT Energy, a concept design company, based in Aberdeen, identified the need for flexible, high stability, normally unattended, offshore buoys, providing offshore real estate which is smaller than traditional moored or semi-submersible vessels but larger than oceanographic buoys. Together with its novel subsea storage tanks, SBT’s disruptive technology gives a range of new tools for the development of offshore projects, allowing new configurations and technical solutions for previously uneconomic developments.

A major step change in buoy design was to use catenary moorings but still achieve low motions, even in extreme sea conditions. SBT Energy has developed significant know-how and has designed patented methods of deployment with buoy stability and integrity at the forefront.

Due to their smaller size, the designs reduce investment risk and payback timeframe, plus they materially reduce costs compared to traditional facilities. In addition, they can be used to complement existing and planned facilities to maximise economic recovery.

OGIC was approached for assistance in finding a suitable academic partner to collaborate with SBT Energy in model wave-testing of two of the SBT Buoy concepts and to gather data on their respective sea worthiness. The University of Edinburgh’s FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility was chosen by SBT Energy as its academic partner, OGIC provided part-funding and project management support to make the collaboration possible.

The Edinburgh University team tested two of the buoy concepts in a range of sea states from operational up to design and survival storm conditions. In parallel, the University team developed a computer model in WAMIT software to allow cross-verification between SBT’s methods. The testing and WAMIT predictions confirmed and validated the accuracy and robustness of the engineering design and analysis.

The testing programme took the SBT system from TRL 3 to TRL 6. By enabling the company to model and optimise the design methodology of the system, the University of Edinburgh team and OGIC have contributed significantly in helping SBT ready its system for market.


“All of us in SBT Energy Limited were delighted with the excellent support and the opportunity that OGIC gave us, and for the expertise and facilities provided by the FloWave team at the University of Edinburgh. This support has significantly helped confirm our predictions and represents an exciting step forward towards our first deployment and future commercialisation.

Ewan Neilson, Chairman, SBT Energy Ltd


“The proposed SBT system offers highly stable, tailorable, scalable and re-usable options in addition to significant capex and opex cost savings against platforms and FPSO units. With the number of potential applications offshore, the benefits of developing technology like this are clear, and we are glad to have helped take it closer to commercialisation.”

David Ingram, Professor of Computational Fluid Dynamics, University of Edinburgh


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