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UAV Remote Inspection Offshore Ghana

Posted on 15 June 2020

UAV Remote Inspection Offshore Ghana

Overview from Drone of MV21 Kwarme Nkrumah FPSO offshore Ghana – Photograph © Airlift Solutions

A solution to inspection while Social Distancing during Convid-19

Key Points:
• Long range drone inspection, remote offshore operation / access – no bed
space needed on facility
• Full HD inspection and reporting with FlareLife™

In March 2020 Airlift Solutions AS were contracted by UK client Greens Combustion to undertake an inspection of the flare system on the Kwarme Nkrumah FPSO for Modec. It was known that there were some issues on the flare from a previous physical inspection (CVI) but the operator Modec needed to understand the risk of further damage to the flare and risk to disruption to continued operations.

Airlift Solutions of Norway mobilised a DJI Matrice 210 RTK drone with chief pilot Stian Berger to Ghana at just 2 weeks’ notice. Before travelling a detailed operation manual together with assessment of the damage known on the flare was prepared. Risk Assessments and flight operation plans were developed with all documents submitted to GCAA. Before travelling offshore Stian had to undertake flight tests with the GCAA in Accra.

Airlift Solutions AS is ISO9001:2015 certified and performs many offshore inspections on UK and Norwegian continental shelf along with a thriving business on Powerline Inspection, and research activities into autonomous drones for the Norwegian Healthcare operators. This project represented an expansion to their operations into the African continent, and with a customer who is one of the largest global FPSO operators. There is a lot of effort required in qualification to enter a new country, however Airlift Solution have global experience and support from Aviation parent company Airlift AS. With key staff from aviation, marine shipping, and flare industry experts Airlift Solutions was a natural choice for this work.

Corona Virus measures
At the time an unexpected development was the impact of Convid-19 virus. This had limited impact on the project, however the operation was undertaken from a barge outside the 500m zone. Initially the barge was connected but before work could commence the vessel disconnected and moved outside the 500m zone. Airlift Solutions were equipped with the latest UAV technology and able to fly the drone from the barge to the FPSO to conduct the inspection remotely. There were no issues that could not be overcome at site and the operation continued successfully demonstrating that when bed space or plans dictate, remote inspection is a practical solution. It is possible to complete inspection work from supply boats or barges, and we can also move between different facilities without a helicopter when needed. If essential as part of an aviation group we even can provide our own transport! Airlift Solutions offer new opportunities, and new ways to work when needed
especially during these days of social distance regulations.

The pilot, Stian Berger, lived aboard the barge and flew all operations from the barge helideck. Social Distancing with all crew was maintained and with only a single pilot needed to operate the Matrice drones this was made easier. Strict infection controls and reduced manning is important measures.

Special long-range conditions offshore do require good communications with the drone at all times and was well within the capabilities of the equipment used. The high temperatures also demanded care of the equipment and in particular good battery care. All equipment used was certified for passenger transport by helicopter or commercial aircraft and can be hand carried where required.

The inspection mission in Ghana was completed in a week. The next step was to have the
collected data evaluated. Airlift Solutions has special inspection software that can monitor
defect developments over time. In addition, they collaborate with industry flare experts
from FlareLife™ to deliver long term assessment of the flare performance.

Airlift Solutions with FlareLife™ offered an effective remote inspection offshore Ghana in West Africa and completed the works with tight Convid-19 virus protection measures. Remote operation of the drone 500m away from the installation and careful planning for the flare inspection delivered a strong result below budget and met with all client expectations.