Drones Deliver Impressive Results

Louise Davis

Visual inspection of refinery facilities is completed with impressive results.

Terra Drone, in collaboration with NDT CCS, has completed a pilot project for the RFCC Cyclone & CO Boiler Internal Visual Inspection using drones for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) Refining, a subsidiary of ADNOC that handles downstream processes. The pilot project was carried out to prove that drones can be used for internal visual inspections at RFCC facilities, especially in reactors, cyclones and boilers. This project was conducted at an oil & gas processing facility, Resid Fluid Catalytic Cracking (RFCC), in Al-Ruwais, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

In the process, four teams were provided to carry out 24-hour operations to accommodate the short time available due to the shutdown process. There are some parts that have never been visually inspected before because of the difficulty of accessing them. By using drones, these parts can be easily reached, thereby providing valuable information for facility owners. In addition, because the drone is versatile, it can complete a visual inspection in a very short time, saving facility owners a lot of time preparing for follow-up actions.

This work has never been done in any other area in the region before. Therefore, thorough planning and coordination with facility owners and inspection engineers was carried out prior to inspection activities. In addition, drone inspections were carried out while the facility was shut down. Therefore, careful scheduling is required to ensure inspections can be carried out on time.

To complete this work, the team used Terra Drone's Flyability Elios 2 drone for internal inspections and the DJI M300 RTK for external inspections (flare stack). The Flyability Elios 2 was chosen because it proved capable of extensive operation during scheduled operations. The team was able to visually inspect the inside and outside surfaces and inlets of several reactor cyclones, reactor main risers, and CO2 super boiler pipes and heaters. The inspection results are then sent to the inspector and engineer on site for them to review and take action based on the condition
of the object.

The Flyability Elios 2 drone is ideal for working on inspection cases worldwide and has been used to carry out internal inspections in hard-to-reach areas. In addition, Terra Drone is very familiar with the technology after having a lot of experience in Indonesia, Japan and several European countries.

Creative Collaboration

To complete this project, Terra Drone collaborated with NDT CCS, a very well-known NDT inspection company in the Middle East region. DT CCS has been ADNOC’s long-standing partner in providing advanced NDT services to many of ADNOC’s subsidiaries. The two firms have forged a strategic partnership since 2019 to provide drone services in the region.

ADNOC Refining is very satisfied with the work provided by Terra Drone and NDT CCS and is pleased with the performance of the Flyability Elios 2. Terra Drone has become ADNOC’s long-standing partner in providing advanced NDT services to many of ADNOC’s subsidiaries. Based on this experience, ADNOC Refining plans to use drones more in its future scheduled inspection plans.

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