Thermal imaging used to detect hotspots

Paul Boughton

Dräger Marine & Offshore is helping to improve asset integrity management for offshore oil and gas operators with its thermal imaging technology.

The company’s equipment is currently being used to detect ‘hotspots’ prior to maintenance and repair work offshore, providing oil operators with a quick and easy solution to check for potential problems before implementation of a repair or strengthening plan, leading to reduced downtime.

The advanced thermal imaging technology is already used by firefighters globally, as part of Dräger’s larger firefighting equipment portfolio for many applications including search and rescue, so this development takes its use one step further with offshore applications, which have a direct effect on improving safety and efficiency.

Phil Saxton, general manager for Dräger Marine & Offshore Aberdeen, said: “It’s 25 years since the world’s worst offshore oil disaster, Piper Alpha, and while lessons have been learned, we are going one step further with our preventative measures to ensure continuous improvement in offshore safety standards.”

He added: “Sometimes hotspots are not immediately apparent to the naked eye, the planning and execution of maintenance work can be highly targeted through identifying such areas of concern.”

Its offshore benefits were initially discovered by Denmark-based Dräger safety key account manager, Peter Sonne, and an international oil giant, which led to an initial order being placed six months ago. Sonne said: “It is great news and a key development in the progression of how we are working with customers to deliver the best solutions offshore.

“The discovery was made during a meeting at a customer site last year when I used a thermal imaging device to detect the fill level of a tank. Together we realised there was potential for using this kind of device in difficult to reach and hazardous locations offshore and the customer therefore placed an order.

“Since then, the customer has seen substantial benefits in applying ourtechnology on its North Sea oil platforms. The equipment is being used to detect potential overheated connections, fire or loose connections in electrical installations and issues can be identified early to prevent costly downtime and save companies substantial amounts of money.

Dräger’s thermal imaging cameras have the advantage of being Atex-approved too, which means they can be used in explosive environments – something that is extremely useful in a hazardous area such as an oil platform.

The cameras rely on heat signatures and can see in darkness, fog or smoke and even minor temperature differences are visible due to a difference in thermal characteristics. The camera is also capable of capturing video and photographs of displayed thermal images. 

Recent Issues