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Cyber Technology quad UAS insepcts fire damaged offshore oil rig

In what is believed to be a world first the Perth, Australia-based Cyber Technology has carried out a close up inspection of a fire damaged oil rig and extraction platform in the Timor Sea using its Cyber Quad vertical takeoff and landing mini unmanned air system.

The flights, carried out on 11 and 12 November, saw a Cyber Quad mini launch fly around, under and inside the fire damaged PTTEP Australasia owned Montara oil platform and the Seadrill owned West Atlas mobile offshore drilling rig. The rig and the head platform were joined by a cantilever gantry structure when the leak developed.

Multiple Cyber Quad flights, going up to an altitude of 35M, were carried out in light wind conditions with launch and recovery from an offshore support vessel moored alongside the damaged platforms. The single UAS operator flew the aircraft using virtual-reality goggles to provide real time reaction to environmental and structural obstacles.

The flights included conduct of perch and stare operations, these used to carry out extended close up examination of structures, many of which had melted in the blaze. The rig and platform, servicing the Montara H1 well, caught fire on 1 November. PTTEP says that at its peak the blaze generated temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Celsius prior to it being extinguished on 3 November.

The offshore complex had been abandoned since 21 August after a major oil and gas leak developed. The Montara field is located 650km west of Darwin and is 120km offshore from the nearest point of the Australian mainland.

Cyber Technology was contacted by the specialist international ALERT Well Control group 5 November to discuss potential application of Cyber Quad UAS to carry out a survey of the fire damaged structure ahead of attempts to place recovery crews on the platform.

“Overcoming the complex technical and logistical challenges in the Montara field has seen some solutions applied for the first time anywhere in the world for a relief well operation. These developments will be amongst many lessons for the whole oil and gas industry from the enormously difficult operations,” says Mr José Martins, Director and Chief Financial Officer of PTTEP Australasia.

“From day one, there has been a commitment to bring in whatever resources have been needed to get the job done.”

In a joint statement released 16 November PTTEP and Cyber Technology say the flights saw the Cyber Quad mini beam “real-time, high resolution video back to the support vessel Nor Captain. This gave operation planners their first close-up views of the damage onboard to assist with developing the safety case for a reboarding of the Montara well head platform... “It filmed the Montara well head platform and the West Atlas cantilever and topsides to provide important information about damage, dropped objects and potential access restrictions for a reboarding party.”

The electrically powered Cyber Quad UAS is made up of four ducted fans in a highly optimised airframe. It has an endurance of 30 minutes in full hover mode and carries a single mini CCTV camera.

By Peter La Franchi

Source: Shephard online


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