Terra Drone Brazil conducts unmanned offshore tank inspection

July 29, 2019  - By

Terra Drone Brazil, a group company of Japan-based Terra Drone Corp., has successfully completed Brazil’s first drone inspection of an offshore FPSO tank. The unmanned FPSO tank inspection was undertaken for Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras.

The ballast tank inspection using drones was conducted aboard P-66, a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit from Petrobras that is operating in the Pre Salt Area at Santos Basin. An FPSO is a floating vessel used by the offshore oil and gas industry for the production and processing of hydrocarbons, and for the storage of oil.

Petrobras needs its cargo and ballast tanks inspected regularly for maintenance. Any kind of corrosion, cracks, fractures or welding anomalies must be identified quickly before they can damage the structural integrity of the ship.

The drones are prepped for the tank inspection. The UAV inspection just over an hour. (Photo: Terra Drone)

The drones are prepped for the tank inspection. The UAV inspection just over an hour. (Photo: Terra Drone)

Traditionally, this inspection is done by sending a team of up to four men inside the confined tank space using scaffolds or rope access. This kind of close-up visual inspection of one tank alone can take from half a day to a full day, and pose a safety threat to the workers inside the tank.

Using drones reduces the need for workers to enter the tank. “Not only is unmanned FPSO tank inspection safer, but it is also much quicker and more precise than manual inspection,” said Marcelo Belleti, executive director at Terra Drone Brazil. “Further, drone inspections for cargo tanks can lead to potential cost-savings as well.”

Terra Drone Brazil completed the inspection of a ballast tank for Petrobras in little over an hour with a team of only two men. The high-definition pictures and videos captured by the drone ensured a quality deliverable report for all 40 points pre-defined for the close-up inspection.

Terra Drone Brazil is certified by ABS (American Bureau of Shipping), DNV GL (Det Norske Veritas and Germanisher Lloyds) and Loyd’s Register as a service supplier approved for surveying using Remote Inspection Techniques (drones) as an alternative means for a close-up survey of the structure of ships and mobile offshore units. The Petrobras P-66 is ABS-certified.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.