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Project Ultra: Underwater Laser Telecommunications and Remote Access
Project Number
Last Reviewed Dated

The objective of this project is to address bandwidth and parallelism deficiencies in currently available undersea wireless optical communications technologies. These goals will be achieved using tight beam focused free space optical networks of blue-green light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (LASER) nodes distributed along the seafloor, allowing for a highly scalable network backbone connecting a wide array of residency sensors as well as command and control devices. Enabling residency for constant real-time monitoring and control will drastically increase operational efficiency and safety. This effort will include electronic/optical encoding optimizations, optical alignment technology improvements, marinization, and a demonstration of network scalability.


Oceanit Laboratories, Inc., Honolulu, HI 96813
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)


According to the U.S. DOE, Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is capable of increasing well recovery from 20–40% to 30–60% of original oil-in-place. Enabling this capability requires persistent and timely reservoir monitoring to understand reservoir response to EOR methods. Near real-time monitoring of reservoir response to EOR operations informs Operators to employ rapid reservoir optimization and intervention measures to increase productivity and reduce risk. Current reservoir monitoring suffers from seismic data collection and processing times that limit the number of mappings and timeliness of obtaining reservoir seismic mapping. This monitoring and control gap limits the effectiveness of EOR in the subsea.


Underwater Laser Telecommunications and Remote Access (ULTRA) technology is a transformational change that will greatly impact the EOR operational paradigm with the capability to monitor reservoirs in near real-time. This change is labeled as Near Real-time Reservoir Management (NRRM), which could be enabled by modifying existing 4D reservoir monitoring systems with a high data rate communication system that enabled rapid data exfiltration to the operator. 4D seismic monitoring enables temporal change detection of the 3D state of a reservoir, which enables the operator to view the dynamic response of the reservoir during waterflood or other EOR operation. This awareness will enable actions that can increase well productivity and reduce risk in operations to maintain a License to Operate.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
  • Completed project Kick Off Meeting
  • Completed Quarterly Research Performance Progress Report #1
Current Status

Oceanit is currently developing the Optical Pointing System (TASK 4) for underwater laser communications. A designed and built bench-top system is undergoing performance testing for an upcoming ocean demonstration in the month of June 2020. The ocean demonstration will utilize acrylic housing and provide valuable data on ocean water quality and laser effectiveness.
Oceanit developed a multicolor concept of operations adapted to connecting a distributed ocean bottom node network.
Oceanit has identified a suitable offshore testing site. The test site is a quarter of a mile offshore and can provide hardline data and power connection back to shore for performance evaluation of ULTRA in a coastal ocean environment.

As Covid-19 precautions lift and subcontractor work begins, the project expenditures are expected to increase from current under-budget conditions to the sustainable burn rate as budgeted.

Per Amendment 0001 to this contract, Oceanit will provide the information for all foreign nationals working on and expected to be working on the project to the DOE Contract Specialist by mid-June 2020.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution

$ 2,250,000.00

Contact Information

NETL – William Fincham ( or 304-285-4268)
Oceanit – Ishan Mons ( or 808.531.3017 ext. 608)