Cyberhawk: World’s First Internal Tank Inspection for Maersk Oil

6. November 2015

Cyberhawk Innovations, the world leader in aerial inspection using Remotely Operated Aerial Vehicles (ROAV), has completed its first ever ROAV inspection of a cargo oil tank on an operational FPSO. After significant research and development, this successful project launches this new service to the global oil and gas and shipping industry.

Visual tank inspection for integrity, damage assessment & class certification

The world-first took place on board the Gryphon FPSO, owned and operated by Maersk Oil in the UK North Sea. Similarly to other FPSO (Floating Production Storage Offloading) operators, Maersk Oil has requirements to visually inspect cargo tanks for integrity, damage assessment and class certification. This type of inspection is usually conducted by rope access technicians (RAT), who are suspended on ropes to inspect the tank structure, focusing on areas of high stress such as stiffeners, brackets, bracing, webs and stringers.

The Maersk Oil’s North Sea Drone Zone

One of Maersk Oil’s main priorities was to reduce the human risk factors which are presented by rope access, which includes working at height for sustained periods of time as well as working in confined spaces. Inspecting the tank with Cyberhawk’s ROAV – the well-known AscTec Falcon 8 UAS 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.

“I say, that the drones bring a lot of benefits to Maersk Oil. They have become an integrated part of the oil and gas industry and it will be an integrated part of our operation both onshore and offshore. […] A very cost-effective and safe way to inspect an oil platform.” Martin Kaster Agerbaek, Lead Production Engineer, Corporate Technology and Innovation, Maersk Oil.

Rope access vs. unmanned aircraft operation

Using an ROAV, also known as a UAS, UAV or drone, for the cargo oil tank inspection also has significant saving potential per tank compared with the traditional method of rope access. This inspection technique can now be applied to all large internal tanks, on vessels such as FPSOs, bulk carriers and tankers.

Cyberhawk mobilised an experienced two-man ROAV team, consisting of an ROAV pilot and inspection engineer. The inspection of the critical components of the tank was completed within a day, in comparison with rope access which would usually take between 3 to 4 days for the same workscope.

Successful tank inspection via UAS

Malcolm Connolly, Cyberhawk’s technical director and founder, was part of the team mobilised to this project. He added: “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.”