Cyberhawk Innovations, a provider of aerial inspections using remotely operated aerial vehicles (ROAVs), or drones, says it has completed its first-ever ROAV inspection of a cargo oil tank on an operational floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit.
The operations took place on board the Gryphon FPSO, owned and operated by Danish company Maersk Oil in the U.K. North Sea. Like other FPSO operators, Maersk Oil has requirements to visually inspect cargo tanks for integrity, damage assessment and class certification.
According to Cyberhawk, this type of inspection is usually conducted by technicians who are suspended on ropes to inspect the tank structure and focus on areas of high stress, such as stiffeners, brackets, bracing, webs and stringers.
One of Maersk Oil’s main priorities was to reduce the human-risk factors presented by rope access: working at heights for sustained periods of time and in confined spaces.
Cyberhawk mobilized a two-man team, consisting of a drone pilot and inspection engineer. The inspection of the critical components of the tank was completed within a day; in comparison, a rope-access method would have taken three to four days, according to Cyberhawk.
Inspecting the tank with the drone allowed Maersk Oil to undertake a quick and safe audit of the tank – in turn, allowing them to identify and more efficiently plan for any possible contact-based inspections in both this and other tanks.
Founded in 2008, Cyberhawk is headquartered in Livingston, Scotland, and has bases in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Malcolm Connolly, Cyberhawk’s technical director and founder, was part of the team mobilized to the project. He says, “We have completed many projects with Maersk Oil since first working together in 2013. Both parties were keen to develop an effective ROAV inspection method for FPSO cargo oil tanks, as well as other tanks and storage vessels. The successful completion of this project has demonstrated that this is now possible.
“Not only have we removed one of the most significant risks associated with tank inspection, working at height, but we have also highlighted the significant cost and time savings achieved by ROAV inspection,” Connolly explains.