SEOUL, May 14 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s leading oil refinery has introduced drone inspection techniques to inspect crude oil storage tanks.
SK Energy Co. said Wednesday it will conduct inspections of its 86-meter-high crude oil storage tanks at its key production hub, Ulsan CLX plant, with drones, not company employees.
“Drone tests have not been introduced due to the characteristics of oil storage facilities that are sensitive to small shocks,” the company said. “Our ‘smart plant’ task has paid off and solved the problem.”
Ulsan CLX has 34 crude oil storage tanks. Its total storage capacity is 20 million barrels, which can store more than eight times the nation’s daily use of 2.4 million barrels of crude oil.
For safety, crude oil storage tanks are inspected periodically.
However, due to the change in related regulations, a separate interim test was introduced starting this year in addition to regular inspections, which are conducted every 11 years.
As a result, the actual inspection cycle has been shortened to five or six years.
Previously, the number of storage tanks inspected was three to four each year, but the number will increase to six to eight from this year.
Each inspections is a time and money consuming procedure. There is a risk and limitation to the inspection as a person has to check the huge tank with his or her own naked eye.
SK Energy has prepared to improve the method of inspecting crude oil storage tanks over the past year, when the introduction of an intermediate inspection system was announced.
The biggest concern was that a crude oil storage tank could explode if a drone crashed, due to oil vapors. However, the company explained that it has prepared a thorough safety system through various drone tests.
“The introduction of drone tests will increase the accuracy of inspections and ensure safety rather than in-person inspections,” SK Energy said.
“We can also save time and money by not having to install temporary structures that used to cover the entire tank.”
The company expected the cost of inspecting 30 crude oil storage tanks scheduled for inspection by 2021 to be drastically reduced from 900 million won (US$733,310) to around 50 million won with the introduction of drone inspections.
Kevin Lee (email@example.com)