North Sea operators set to trial advanced inspection UAVs

Air Control Entech and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre have launched three unmanned aerial vehicles, designed to cut the costs of offshore oil and gas inspection by up to 50%.

Unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK – Air Control Entech (ACE) and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre have launched three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), designed to cut the costs of offshore oil and gas inspection by up to 50%.

Most UAVs offshore are typically used for visual inspection. ACE’s focus with the new systems has been on faster and more accurate inspection.

The three main features are:

  • Provides a real-time, high-definition video stream and data transfer from offshore inspections to onshore teams, allowing the size of offshore inspection teams to reduce, leading to more efficient reporting, the Centre claims.
  • Ultrasonic testing: using electromagnets to lock onto a structure, the UAV is said to employ less power, leading to longer flight times and repeat readings at a single location. Cameras accurately position the vehicle and a data management system provides clients with instant access to results.
  • 3D laser scanning: scanning of offshore structures to within 2-mm accuracy. This, according to the Centre, improves the accuracy of re-engineering projects by obtaining point cloud data from inaccessible locations.

ACE is working on technology trials with various major operators for deployments on North Sea facilities. Results will be used to further improve the vehicle’s functionality and capability.

Under the next planned development phase, a UAV will be engineered for use in confined spaces, along with R&D into flight control systems and improved flight performance through battery technology.

Rebecca Allison, Asset Integrity Solution Centre Manager, said: “Our goal is to eliminate the impact of asset integrity on operational uptime by 2026 and developing advanced UAVs is vital.”

04/18/2018

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