Terra Drone Brazil has completed the country’s first drone inspection of an offshore floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) tank for Petrobas.

The subsidiary of Japan-based Terra Drone carried out the unmanned FPSO tank examination for Petrobras as it requires its cargo and ballast tanks to be checked regularly.

Examination of the FPSO tank helps to spot signs of corrosion, cracks, fractures and welding anomalies, allowing them to be rectified before damage is caused to a ship’s structural integrity.

The ballast tank inspection was undertaken on board Petrobas’ P-66, an FPSO unit of the Brazilian state-owned oil company that is operating in the Pre Salt area of the Santos Basin, 300km south-east of Santos, Brazil.

Inspections are generally completed by a team of four workers who are sent inside the confined tank space, with the entire process lasting between half a day and a full day while posing a safety risk to the staff involved.

Lasting just an hour, the drone-led inspection was completed without human workers needing to enter the tank.

Terra Drone Brazil executive director Marcelo Belleti said: “Not only is unmanned FPSO tank inspection safer, but it is also much quicker and more precise than manual inspection.

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“Further, drone inspections for cargo tanks can lead to potential cost-savings as well.”

Fitted with high definition cameras, the drones provided clear pictures and videos to ensure a quality deliverable report for all 40 points that were pre-defined for the close-up inspection.

Terra Drone Brazil is certified by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), DNV GL and Loyd’s Register as a service supplier that is approved for surveying by using remote inspection techniques, providing alternative means for a close-up survey of the structure of ships and mobile offshore units.

Meanwhile, the Petrobras P-66 is also certified by ABS.