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Mermaid Maritime unit to invest 77.5m baht for stake in AI, robotics JV

THAILAND-BASED oil service specialist Mermaid Maritime Public Co's wholly-owned subsidiary will invest 77.5 million baht (S$3.4 million) for a 50 per cent stake in a new joint venture (JV).

Called ZeaQuest, the JV will develop robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to provide commercial subsea engineering services.

Mermaid Subsea Services (Thailand) will establish the JV with AI and Robotics Ventures Company (ARV).

ARV is a subsidiary of EP-Tech Ventures Holding Company, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PTT Exploration and Production Public Company, a petroleum exploration and production firm based in Thailand.

Expected to be incorporated by end-September, the JV will have a registered and paid-up capital of 155 million baht, divided into 1.55 million ordinary shares with a par value of 100 baht per share, Mermaid Maritime said.

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Mermaid Subsea Services (Thailand) will fund the deal via its internal cash flow.

Chalermchai Mahagitsiri, Mermaid's chief executive officer, said the partnership will make Mermaid's subsea services more efficient, by deploying robotics and AI technologies developed by ARV.

He added that in the initial phase, ZeaQuest plans to use these technologies in the inspection, repair & maintenance, infrastructure installation support, as well as subsea engineering services for national oil and gas corporates in South-east Asia. The JV intends to expand these services to the Middle East and the rest of the world subsequently, Mr Mahagitsiri said.

Thana Slanvetpan, ARV's general manager, noted that ARV specialises in the research and development of AI and robotics technologies for petroleum exploration and production (E&P) and non-E&P industries.

"This partnership between Mermaid and ARV is a critical milestone in the utilisation of highly complex AI and robotics technologies in surveillance, inspection, repair and maintenance of subsea infrastructure and equipment," added Dr Slanvetpan.

The incorporation of ZeaQuest is not expected to have any material impact on Mermaid Maritime's net tangible assets per share and earnings per share as a group for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2020, it said.

Shares of mainboard-listed Mermaid Maritime closed at 6.1 Singapore cents on Thursday, down 0.1 cent or 1.6 per cent.

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