A world-leading provider of industrial surveying and assessments is using drone technology to carry out offshore inspections - and is benefiting from enhanced safety and increased efficiency.
The use of drones is proving beneficial for Skeye and its clients, for a number of reasons. These include:
- Saving time and money
- Making difficult-to-reach areas accessible
- Increasing safety
- Drone payloads give 'outstanding' image quality
Drone inspections saved the client time and money
Skeye recently completed inspections from the air using drones for two FPSOs (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) and two TLPs (Tension Leg Platform) off the west coast of Africa for a major oil company.
The drone inspections lasted several weeks but saved several months of laborious inspections with Rope Access. Upon assessment of the imagery, Rope Access teams were then called upon to investigate and repair identified defects.
The inspections were conducted using the M200 for the external features, while an alternative drone was used for a number of internal confined space inspections. The inspections focused on all parts of these offshore structures that were difficult to reach using alternative methods.
The client required high-resolution inspection images of flare stack and tip, main hull and export risers and clamps.
Offshore assets such as the FPSOs are subjected to extended service periods in an exposed and corrosive environment.
Traditional inspection techniques for these assets (rope access) are high risk, time-consuming and can require production on the FPSO to be reduced or even stopped.
The use of a UAV for these types of inspections saves both time and money for the client.
Drones offered a safer solution
Flare stack inspections are critical safety features of any platform - they vent excess gas and maintain pressures on the platform ensuring safe operations of the well.
Access to these flare stacks is extremely difficult as shutdowns of the flare stack mean the shutdown of the entire platform. It is therefore very attractive for companies to undertake the critical inspections on these flare stacks while they are operational.
The drone offers this safe inspection solution without impacting operations on the platform.
'Outstanding results' with the M200 and Z30
For operations like this, Skeye always carries multiple drones for versatility and as a contingency. One of its go-to UAVs is the M200.
Patrick said: "The M200 is now considered a main stay in the fleet after proving its worth over the last year of offshore operations. When equipped with the Z30 payload, the reliability and results are outstanding.
"The M200 is light weight, has the possibility of looking up and has collision avoidance for extra safety.
"It is also very easy to transport and is extremely flexible."
The Z30 payload makes use of a 30-times optical zoom with excellent stabilisation and intuitive control.
Patrick said: "This makes our surveys extremely safe as we can fly further away from structures and get better results than previous cameras without a zoom capability."
This ease of use means that Skeye’s inspectors and even third parties can control the payload independently of the pilot and focus on key areas. The optical zoom also means that outstanding image quality can be achieved with the UAV at comparatively safe distances from the asset.
Efficient and comprehensive data interpretation
During the course of a four-day operation at one location, Skeye completed more than 30 individual flights with a cumulative flight time of more than 10 hours airborne.
Patrick said: "The data produced from these flights was significant, but when compiled into a single reporting system where 3D models, audio and video are all combined, it makes data management and interpretation extremely efficient and comprehensive. Of course, the digital content was delivered alongside good old PDF hard copies."
Why did you choose Heliguy?
Award-winning Heliguy is the UK's leading drone expert. Skeye BV was only too happy to come to us for its equipment.
Technical Director, Skeye BV
"We loved dealing with Heliguy's Business Development Manager, Ruairi Hardman, and we know that Heliguy provides the equipment we need with rapid turn around time. The team understands our needs and are ready to support us."
Skeye takes its UAV missions 'very seriously'
Skeye was founded in 2013 to provide the international market with services using unmanned aircraft.
Last year, Skeye was acquired by Terra, from Japan. Following this acquisition, Terra Drone has become one of the largest drone service companies with more than 250 employees and presence in six continents.
Skeye serves its clients with safer, better and more efficient surveys and inspections by using and developing cutting-edge technologies in the fields of UAVs.
Skeye differentiates itself by taking operations with unmanned aircraft very seriously. Our clients require a reliable and professional supplier for high quality inspections, aerial surveys and aerial imagery. By taking quality and safety seriously by engaging with our client and local aviation authorities, Skeye ensures a suitable and safe concept of operations for any mission.
Skeye regularly undertakes offshore inspection work using drones and its pilots are highly-trained to work in high-risk environments.
Over the years, Skeye has executed many projects across five continents. Specialist projects where flown in the following countries: United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Croatia, United
Arab Emirates, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda, India, Borneo, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, Guatemala and the USA.
For Shell, Skeye has surveyed more than 250 onshore oil and gas locations in the Netherlands and inspected and surveyed a variety of offshore platforms across the globe.
Patrick said: "Our pilots have received all the necessary life-safety training and continue to develop the necessary training and skills required for working in such environments. UK and Dutch pilots regularly travel
all over the globe to undertake these surveys.
"Our approach to safety is extremely thorough and we are constantly striving to improve. With positive feedback on our very successful audits from Shell, Exon Mobil and Lloyd Register over the last 18 months, we have demonstrated this commitment to continual development."