$2 Million Saved Using Elios 2 For Oil Tanker Cargo Inspection

Marine Inspection Services, Ltd helped an oil tanker manager realize $2 million in savings by using the Elios 2 for a cargo tank inspection during a uniquely profitable time for oil tankers.

Benefits In A Nutshell

Safety

Sending the Elios 2 into an oil tanker’s cargo tank to collect visual data instead of an inspector represents a significant reduction of exposure to potential harm, since inspectors have to stand on scaffolding erected at a significant height in order to see all parts of the tank. 

ROI

The total savings from using the Elios 2 for the cargo tanks inspection was about $2M USD. Building scaffolding (also called staging) for a manual inspection would have cost about $400,000 and require an extra eight days for set up and take down, which at the time of this inspection would equal $1.6M in lost revenue ($200K USD/day). 

Speed

The Elios 2 was able to complete the cargo tank’s inspection in two days, as compared to the 10 days that would have been required for a manual inspection due to the need for building and taking down scaffolding.

Introduction

In March of 2020, the cost for renting out an oil tanker shot up from about $25,000 USD a day—barely enough to cover the daily costs of running the tanker—to over $200,000 USD a day.

Cargo-Oil-Tank-Inspection-flyability-3

The reason for this sudden increase in price had to do with a simultaneous short supply of oil tankers and a huge demand for them. 

At that time the oil prices had sunk incredibly low, due largely to the unforeseen impact of COVID-19 throughout the world. Since oil was so cheap, speculators were buying up as much of it as they could and storing it on tankers, waiting until the price went up, at which point they planned to cash in. 

The potential profit that could be made this way was significant. If, for example, you ran an investment house that bought a million barrels of oil at $20 a barrel, if the price went up to $30 a barrel, you would stand to make a profit of 10 million dollars (minus what you paid for storage, of course).

Because of this potential, speculators were buying up all the cheap oil they could find. But they needed a place to store all this oil while waiting for the prices to go back up, which meant that oil tankers were in high demand, resulting in the daily price to hire out an oil tanker going through the roof.

Customer Needs

As an oil tanker manager, you want to have your ship in the water as much as possible so that it can be generating the maximum amount of revenue possible. And March of 2020 was such a uniquely profitable moment in the industry that it would have been one of the worst times ever to have your tanker in dry dock for inspections or repairs.

That same month, a management company that owns an oil tanker noticed a defect in one of their crude oil tankers.

To avoid any potential harm to persons and the environment, the shipping company had to complete a thorough inspection of the known defect area and other possible defect areas.

Cargo-Oil-Tank-Inspection-flyability-1

A picture of the crack that was found in the cargo tank

If a crack appeared in the cargo tank it could potentially grow bigger and, in the worst case scenario, result in a cargo leak. 

Such a leak would require the company to discharge the cargo and undergo a full cleaning and repair of the ship, which could result in 10 days off hire and easily cost over half a million USD to fix for each defect, not to mention the lost profits from not being able to hire the ship out which, at $200K USD a day, would amount to $2M.

In the worst case scenario, this kind of crack could even result in a pollution problem, with crude oil leaking out of the cargo tank and directly into the ocean. (This kind of leak isn’t as likely on modern oil tankers, which have double hulls, but could happen on older FPSO vessels.)

In order to know the full details of the defect and maybe requiring the ship to go into dry dock at such a profitable time, the management company needed to inspect the vessel to evaluate the extent of the damage so that a plan could be put in place.

Solution

Hoping to avoid the need for going into drydock and losing out on the big profits that could be made at this unique time, the management company that owned the tanker hired Marine Inspection Services Ltd, an inspection services company based in the U.K., to inspect the vessel and assess what repairs were required.

To inspect the cargo tanks, inspectors working for Marine Inspections Services Ltd decided to use the Elios 2, Flyability’s collision-tolerant drone made to support inspections in confined spaces. 

Cargo-Oil-Tank-Inspection-flyability-4

Inspectors knew the Elios 2 would make the tank inspection go much faster than a manual inspection because it would remove the need for building scaffolding, provide high quality visual data, and would also remove the need for an inspector to put themselves in potential danger by standing on scaffolding while conducting a visual review of the interior of the tank. Marine Inspection Services Ltd have been using Elios drones for over four years.

[Related read: What is a Maritime Drone?]

Results

The Elios 2 was able to help inspectors from Marine Inspection Services Ltd quickly verify the existence of a crack in the initial area of concern and evaluate the extent of the damage.

“The Elios 2’s directional lighting and distance lock are very good for helping to determine the extent of damage when you’re looking at a crack. The lighting simulates an inspector standing there holding a flashlight, providing depth and detail to what is being inspected.” 

- Simon Ruddick, Director at Marine Inspection Services Ltd

Using the Elios 2, inspectors flew into the cargo tank and collected detailed, high quality visual data on the conditions inside it.

Cargo-Oil-Tank-Inspection-flyability-5

They also looked over the ship’s plans to identify other locations where similar cracks might be. Based on the inspector’s knowledge and experience of the vessel’s design they were able to identify other areas to inspect. In these areas they found two more similar cracks that had started to form, which would have caused high costs and downtime later.

This video showcases some of the key findings from the inspection Marine Inspection Services Ltd conducted that day:

 

Conclusion

Before this mission, inspectors at Marine Inspection Services Ltd already knew that the Elios 2 could help them save time and money, while also keeping their inspectors out of potentially hazardous scenarios.

But the success of the mission at such a high stakes time, when any delays would have meant a significant loss of revenue to their client, served to further their belief in the Elios 2 as a cost-effective tool for visual inspections.

“For us, Flyability’s indoor drone technology has evolved from an interesting and helpful supplemental tool to an essential part of any inspection we conduct. This mission is just one more example of how crucial the Elios 2 is to our ability to help our clients assess damage and make important decisions about the viability of continued operations.”

- Simon Ruddick, Director at Marine Inspection Services Ltd

Cargo-Oil-Tank-Inspection-flyability-6

 

SEE ALSO

Infrastructure

Flyability and our partner Droprise collaborated to map a long stretch of roadway bridge in Belgium

Sewer

The Elios 3 was used to safely inspect and map structures on a canalized river with a high flow rate.

General

The Elios 3 was used for an emergency in Lyon where an underground drone was the only way to investigate a mysterious sinkhole.

Cement

See how InspecDrone used the Elios 3 to complete UT drone inspections at a cement plant to complete non-destructive testing of assets.

Power Generation

The Elios 3 UT flew inside the stack, cutting the need to affect insulation on the outside, producing accurate results that can be repeated for routine […]

General

TEXO were asked to map storage racks at a large sugar refinery, and used the Asset Management extension to merge several days’ worth of flights.

General

Meet the Asset Management software extension - ready to simplify how you view and manage your Elios 3 data during and after inspections.

Sewer

Pete Kelsey and a team of specialists used laser scanners and drones to scan the entirety of Alcatraz to help predict the future of the island.

Maritime

Hull inspections with the Elios 3 UT cut labor intensity, no longer requiring teams of 16+ people to mount scaffolding - send the drone instead, and a […]

Infrastructure

Specialist digitization and inspection engineers Delta Scan used the Elios 3 in a rapid response to deal with a gas explosion on a street in central […]

Sewer

In Sydney, Australia, Metrocorp Technologies is using the Elios 3 for safe surveys in live sewers, stormwaters and other high risk confined space assets.

Mining

To guarantee the safety of their furnace and employees, UNICALCE SpA appointed WACO Srl and their Elios drone to inspect some rock detachments at their […]

Infrastructure

In a massive project to help Brussels become a smart city, Brussels Mobility and several partners mapped 13 km of underground technical galleries.

Power Generation

A drone inspection for wind turbine blades can help avoid over $1 million in replacement costs by identifying faulty equipment early.

Public Safety

When every second counts, emergency response teams need to make the right decisions. The Elios drones are helping inform decision making in firefighting […]

Power Generation

An abandoned coal plant is being mapped for redevelopment, so surveying and inspection specialists TEXO used the Elios 3 to inspect the old buildings and […]

Power Generation

CLP Power supplies highly reliable electricity to over 80% of Hong Kong’s population. As maintaining safe and efficient operations of power generation is […]

Mining

A major inactive zinc mine survey with the Elios 3 proved to have successful results and empowered surveys of old workings.

Power Generation

The Taltson Hydro Plant was due for maintenance work, and Osprey Integrity used the Elios 3 to inspect the inner workings of this dam.

Mining

See how the new Surveying Payload completed surveys faster and more easily at the underground mine ICL Boulby