OVER 350 RISERS ON 63 OFFSHORE PLATFORMS INSPECTED IN A MONTH FOR DUBAI PETROLEUM USING UAVS

Sector
Oil Gas & Petrochemical
Region
Middle East

The rationale behind Dubai Petroleum’s use of UAVs was to quickly complete detailed inspections of all their risers. Risers are traditionally a difficult area of an offshore platform to inspect; under deck and in the splash zone options for access, such as abseiling or scaffolding, are limited, extremely time consuming and very expensive. Used as a scanning tool, the high-quality reports produced by the Cyberhawk UAV team allowed the client to then plan tactile inspection or repair. Additionally, now that a full inspection has been completed on all riser’s defects can be tracked over time to understand their longer term degradation.

A two-man team was mobilised to the platforms, consisting of an experienced UAV pilot and an oil and gas inspection engineer. Cyberhawk’s significant aviation experience of operating in more than 25 countries globally meant that we knew how to secure the necessary flight permissions from the Dubai CAA. Daily reports were produced to notify the client of potentially serious defects, with detailed inspection reports produced thereafter by Cyberhawk’s experienced oil and gas inspection team.

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On the same project, an additional three elevated flare stacks and 24 bridges were inspected, maximising the mobilisation. Dubai Petroleum’s Asset Integrity Manager reported: “Having worked with Cyberhawk in the past, we understand the potential on offer from UAV inspection. This confidence led us to use UAVs in a new area within our business, this riser survey project. The campaign was a great success and we are pleased with the outcome.

“The speed and efficiency with which this project was completed has proven that the scope and application of UAV inspection can be expanded for our requirements, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Cyberhawk in the future.”

REGULAR INSPECTION OF A STEAM LEAK ON ELEVATED FLARE STACK

Cyberhawk was tasked by a major petrochemical operator to complete regular close visual inspections of a damaged elevated flare stack at its site in the UK. The main task was to regularly inspect a critical perforation of a steam riser on the flare and to monitor the potential dropped object risk.


SAUDI ARABIA – LIVE FLARE INSPECTION

Sector
Oil Gas & Petrochemical
Region
Middle East

The inspection quickly identified critical damage on the flare tip. Two cracks were found on two different nozzles that could cause a potential dropped object risk. Each of these nozzles weighs over 40kg so they could prove extremely dangerous for staff and other assets in the refinery.

The inspection took five days; on the first day, the team, of an experienced pilot and oil and gas inspection engineer, discussed the safety requirements and reviewed flying methods with the client. The following two days involved the actual UAV inspection which identified the cracks, and the final two days saw the development of an inspection report which addressed the critical damage.

This first inspection is part of a monthly inspection regime that aims to identify the rate of damage propagation and ultimately defer a costly unplanned shutdown.

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Cyberhawk was chosen due to its strong global track record, working with oil and gas supermajors and national oil companies in the middle east for over eight years. Alternative inspection methods, such as rope access or scaffolding, would have taken weeks to complete, required a shutdown of the facility and would have presented significant risks to personnel, such as working at height. In this case, it would also have been difficult to spot the damage due to the design of the flare, which only allowed a clear view from above. Whilst a helicopter would have addressed this issue, it would have resulted in costs three to four times higher.

Thanks to the skill and ability of Cyberhawk’s pilots, the inspection of the critical flare tip was successfully completed, allowing the client to defer a costly shutdown and reduce potential risk to personnel.

BRUNEI – INSPECTING 20 NUIS OFFSHORE AND 3 FLARES ONSHORE

Cyberhawk completed two inspection projects in Brunei for an oil and gas supermajor; one project offshore and one project onshore. The first project included the detailed inspection of 20 normally-unmanned-installations (NUIs) offshore which were due for decommissioning. The second inspection involved three flare towers at an onshore facility. The inspection time for both projects was under two weeks.


FLARE INSPECTION IN SAUDI ARABIA

Sector
Oil Gas & Petrochemical
Region
Middle East

The rationale behind the operator’s use of UAVs was to reduce human exposure to potential hazards, including working at height and in gas-rich environments, as well as remaining a safe distance from the operational assets. Traditionally, this inspection would require a shutdown, however the operator wanted to significantly reduce costs by maximising uptime of the processing equipment.

The inspection team, including a flare inspection engineer and a CAA qualified pilot, completed the project in just two days. On day one, the team familiarised itself with the asset and the health and safety procedures of the refinery, completing the inspection in only four hours on the second day.

Thanks to our international track record and extensive experience in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, Cyberhawk was chosen as the preferred UAV inspection company to provide accurate data on the condition of the assets.

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Regional operational challenges in Middle East include heat, which affects the battery life of the drones, as well as sandstorms that cause low visibility. This meant that our experienced team had to work very quickly, efficiently and with a high level of skill.

Furthermore, due to challenging customs restrictions in Saudi Arabia, Cyberhawk had to demonstrate a strong track record and high level of knowledge of UAV regulations in order to secure the necessary flight permissions from the aviation authority, as well as additional approvals from the local airforce.

Together with quicker inspection times, reduced cost of inspection and avoidance of unplanned shutdowns, Cyberhawk’s UAV solution once again proved its worth in the oil and gas sector.


FIRST LIVE FLARE STACK INSPECTION IN QATAR

Sector
Oil Gas & Petrochemical
Region
Middle East

The work scope, carried out in March 2016, involved the inspection of 136m high flares at an onshore oil and gas refinery. A natural gas producing company based in Qatar called upon Cyberhawk to conduct the first-ever commercial flare inspection in the country.

The commercial use of UAVs in Qatar had previously been heavily regulated by the Qatari government due to concerns over security of airspace and privacy of citizens. However, Cyberhawk undertook an extensive campaign lobbying the government to explain the vast benefits on offer through the use of UAVs. After a thorough assessment of the company’s previous Middle East projects, a panel of authorities granted an exclusive permit for Cyberhawk to conduct the work scope.

The project reinforced Cyberhawk’s leading position in the industry and region to date.

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An experienced team of two from Cyberhawk, including an industry qualified inspection engineer and oil and gas qualified inspection pilot, was mobilised to undertake the work and took just two days to conduct the full inspection. Alternative methods such as rope access or scaffolding would have taken months to complete, required shutdown of the facility and would have increased dangers to personnel, such as working at height.


PERSIAN GULF OFFSHORE MULTIPLE WORKSCOPE INSPECTION

Sector
Oil Gas & Petrochemical
Region
Middle East

In September 2015, Cyberhawk was appointed by a major oil and gas operator in the UAE with the safe inspection of six flares, 12 vent stacks, multiple bridges, tripods and telecom towers, offshore in the Persian Gulf.

The operator also wanted to reduce human exposure to hazardous environments, including working at height, as well as remaining a safe distance from the operational assets. Further to this, high-quality data was sought to improve maintenance and turnaround planning, in turn supporting management decisions.

The rationale behind the operator’s use of UAVs was to avoid the requirement to shut down platform operations whilst inspections took place.

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The alternative technique considered for the flare tip inspections was using a full-size helicopter, however, this method would not have given a comprehensive, 360-degree view of the whole flare such as under the flare deck and supporting structure. The UAV also meant other difficult inspection work scopes such as bridges, tripods, and telecom towers could be inspected on the same mobilization. Therefore, the use of UAVs was investigated and deemed to be the preferred method for addressing these issues.

Cyberhawk’s significant aviation experience of operating in more than 20 countries globally meant that we knew how to secure the necessary flight permissions from the UAE aviation authority, as well as additional approvals from the local airforce.

A two-man team was mobilized to the platform, consisting of an experienced UAV pilot and an oil and gas inspection engineer. Detailed inspection reports were then produced by Cyberhawk’s experienced oil and gas inspection team with additional analysis from Cyberhawk’s flare expert on the condition of the flare tips. The operator reported that the work was completed safely and efficiently with high quality reports provided in a timely manner.

FOREWIND DOGGER BANK MET MAST INSPECTION

Cyberhawk was tasked by Forewind to carry out a repeat drone inspection on the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm metrological (met) masts in April 2016. Cyberhawk was chosen due to our previous experience in successfully inspecting the met masts the previous year.