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Texo pioneers unmanned inspection method on North Sea FPSO

© Courtesy Texo GroupAn unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used to inspect a vast oil storage tank on the Armada Kraken FPSO in July.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used to inspect a vast oil storage tank on the Armada Kraken FPSO in July.

Texo Group’s sister company Texo DSI has successfully pioneered a new unmanned inspection method on a major UK North Sea FPSO, delivering significant safety, time and cost saving benefits.

Working in collaboration with vessel owner Bumi Armada and classification society DNV GL, Texo used an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to inspect a vast oil storage tank on the Armada Kraken FPSO in July.

The installation has been used to produce heavy oil from the EnQuest-operated Kraken field, located east of Shetland, since it came on stream in 2017.

Inspection of the tank was completed by Texo DSI using two personnel in 96 hours over four shifts.

To capture the same extent of inspection, using traditional rope access, would take a four-man team circa 14 days to complete, around 672 personnel hours.

Texo DSI’s deployment of a UAV meant that no operatives had to enter the tank during the inspection, making the operation less hazardous.

Texo’s drone pilot and inspector provided a live video stream of the close-up inspection from inside the tank to the attending DNV GL surveyor who reviewed the footage to conduct the survey.

Completing the job in a shorter timeframe and with fewer operatives meant less bed space was required on the FPSO which also generated substantial savings.

Getting the storage capacity back into operation in a safe and timely manner is a big plus for the operator, which needs to get each tank on the FPSO checked and verified every five years.

Texo Group, headquartered in Westhill, Aberdeenshire, devoted thousands of man-hours to developing the service in order to ensure a safe, consistent and efficient delivery.

Steve Moir, operations director at Texo, said early engagement with Bumi Armada was key to identifying potential risks and putting mitigation measures in place.

Moir said: “The number one priority for Texo and its clients is safety. When you are introducing a new way of working, it always comes with some risk. There’s always an element of ‘the unknown’.”

“But by engaging early in the process, the client was able to contribute to the process of identifying risks and helping put safety measures in place.

“Through early engagement, everyone on board was brought up to speed and knew what was expected of them.”

Campbell Ross, marine superintendent at Bumi Armada UK, said: “We were very pleased to be involved in the utilisation of available technology to reduce the risks to offshore personnel.”

Meanwhile, DNV GL conducted one audit covering Texo’s quality system and a second practical audit on board the Armada Kraken FPSO.

Having completed these, Texo DSI is now accredited to provide UAV services on any DNV GL Classed Asset across the globe.

Scott Jervis, DNV GL regional offshore manager, west Europe, said: “The use of remote inspection techniques is rapidly increasing, as technology like drones can now be used as an efficient alternative means for close-up inspection in some types or part of surveys of ships and mobile offshore units.

“Since 2019, DNV GL has been approving service suppliers to assist in carrying out surveys using remote inspection techniques, such as drones, climbers or remotely operated vehicles.

“By working with Texo DSI on the remote inspection of the Armada Kraken FPSO, we were able to reduce downtime for the owner as well as reducing the risk to surveyors and personnel onboard. As a result of the successful survey we could also certify that Texo DSI meets DNV GL and IACS RIT requirements.”

The UAV, which is fitted with lights and protected by a special cage, provides real-time, visual images for users. Footage can also be recorded and viewed later.

The next step for Texo a company, which constantly adapts and evolves its services, is to start providing 3D visual models for clients and conduct inspections in an explosive-proof environment.

The company can also supply its own rope access technicians to carry out any targeted maintenance or repair work highlighted during the inspection.


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