logo

Unmannedtech flying an
Onshore Flare inspection.

Client:
Oil & Gas

Location: North Africa
Date: Autumn 2013

The Mission

We have been tasked by the client to inspect 2 times flare tips, one High pressure (HP) and one (LP) on the same flare boom structure. There are known defects on the HP flare tip and the inspection is to confirm extent of damage and if it is safe to keep producing. The RPAS team completed the inspection in 2 x 15minute flights capturing high definition video and stills imagery.

oil and gas platform out at sea

Why UNMANNEDTECH?

Experience and expertise

  • Highly experienced RPAS Operators with over 5,500 hours of experience
  • 20+ years in house Oil and Gas experience

Cost effective

  • No need to shutdown
  • Fast and flexible inspections
  • Make informed decisions before a shutdown

Bespoke inspection service

  • Inspection defined around client requirements
  • Consultancy based approach
  • Technical report and highly detailed imagery

Total safety

  • Safety is our priority
  • Detailed risk assessments and method statements
  • Excellent safety record

What inspection work do we offer:

  • Live flare stack inspections
  • General topside work
  • Under deck inspections
  • Decommissioning
  • Emergency inspections

mechanical inspection of oil rig

Case Study:

APPLICATION

        decided to use RPAS in the petrochemical industry when the company realized that the technology could help solve the most critical issues endemic with traditional inspection methods for that industry.

Safety: The first such issue is the safety of personnel in and around production and distribution infrastructure. Much of the infrastructure that requires inspection, for example flare stacks, is significantly elevated: a typical on-shore flare can be as tall as 550 ft (168 m). Legacy methods necessitate that personnel need to be in close proximity of the flare tip, by means of an elevated platform (such as a crane or lift) or personnel climbing – introducing significant safety risk to those personnel, undertaking tasks that have a long history of accidents.

Decreasing Direct Costs: Inspecting on/offshore structures is expensive, for example, the typical operating costs of a helicopter (and crew) can be as much as $2500/hour. Costs for a crane service can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per day. These inspection methods can also introduce expensive operational risk mitigations, for example the typical “direct” inspection of a flare requires a team of 6+ people.

Recovery of Lost Profits: Most significantly, both forms of inspection (manned helicopters or direct inspection, etc.) require that a flare stack be shut down for the duration of the inspection. Even for manned helicopters, the area of exposure to extreme heat from the flare tip is large enough to necessitate shut down as a means to minimize risk to the aircraft and/or pilots.

Flare stacks are exhaust mechanisms for chemical processes. When a flare is taken offline, generally the manufacturing production lines that use the flare stack are also shut down. Unless the facility has a backup flare or builds a temporary flare, the losses caused by the shutdown of the production lines, increase every day the flare stack isn’t operational.

Recovery of Lost Profits: Most significantly, both forms of inspection (manned helicopters or direct inspection, etc.) require that a flare stack be shut down for the duration of the inspection. Even for manned helicopters, the area of exposure to extreme heat from the flare tip is large enough to necessitate shut down as a means to minimize risk to the aircraft and/or pilots.

Flare stacks are exhaust mechanisms for chemical processes. When a flare is taken offline, generally the manufacturing production lines that use the flare stack are also shut down. Unless the facility has a backup flare or builds a temporary flare, the losses caused by the shutdown of the production lines, increase every day the flare stack isn’t operational.

Better Data: RPAS can provide “eyes” on elevated structures, and areas which are otherwise impossible to access, unless cranes, lifts, personnel climbing are used – all can be very expensive methods, with a history of accidents. RPAS can also provide perspective (above, below and at oblique angles) that is otherwise unobtainable. When capturing thermal imagery, the angle of approach to the target is important, as thermal images captured at an oblique angle may provide less accurate temperature readings than thermal images obtained at nadir or lateral to the target.

“To be able to offer them an inspection solution that fulfills both of these requirements, it just makes sense to use Aeryon RPAS.”

pipeline inspection oil rig from the side aerial view top burner furnace of the oil rig

Outcome:

oil rig aerial view

KEY BENEFITS

  • Safety of personnel – direct inspection and manned aircraft not required
  • No disruption to production; flare stack can remain operational
  • Data could be collected in high winds and extreme weather conditions
  • Better data capture of overall structure
  • Thermal imagery provides temperature and other details not visible otherwise
  • Increased ROI for customers

SOLUTION

Unmannedtech has been an Aeryon customer since 2014. They first operated the Aeryon Scout and added the Aeryon SkyRanger to their fleet in late 2014. For close inspection tasks, the Aeryon HDZoom30 imaging payload provides the capability to stand-off from the target at a safe distance, while still capturing detailed high-resolution imagery. Coupled with the extended flight time capabilities of the SkyRanger, Unmannedtech is able to deliver a reliable and high-value service to its customers in the petrochemical industry.

RESULTS

In the 3 years of RPAS operations in the petrochemical industry, Unmannedtech has realized savings potential for their customers between 50-90%, as compared to traditional methods of inspection. The higher end of that calculation is derived from “on-line” inspections, which that take place while the equipment is operating, generating revenue when the alternative method would require shutdown. As a representative example, a hydrocarbons process in a major petrochemical facility could generate conservatively $1 million in profit per day during the time it would otherwise be shut down for historical modes of inspection.

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