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bpx energy finds success with robot inspections

Release date:
22 October 2020
bpx energy recently tested a robotic “crawler” to remotely inspect equipment at its Blackhawk central gas-treating facility in Texas, resulting in shorter down times, greater data collection and cost savings


The Gecko Robotics crawler, technically a rapid ultrasonic gridding scanner, measures metal thickness on pressure vessels, helping identify defects and metal loss from corrosion or erosion.

It also eliminates the need for scaffolding or people working at heights, increasing safety.

bp employee Hung Nguyen and her husband Chee Lee pose for photo, as both will appear on the television show The Amazing Race

How does it work? 

The crawler attaches to a vessel or pipe wall using magnets and moves across the surface, sending sound waves into the metal to test its thickness.

By the numbers 

bpx used the crawler to inspect four Blackhawk condensate separators.

  • The inspections took four days, compared to four weeks using conventional methods. 
  • The crawler gathered more than 7.3 million measurements, significantly higher than the coverage from conventional inspections. 
  • The project reduced costs by 75% compared to the historic level for vessel inspections. 

The robot, which bp’s upstream engineering center sourced, aligns with the company’s modernization and transformation agenda. bp now plans to deploy the inspection techniques to other facilities.