Stakeholders recommend robotic devices to secure, monitor tankers and other assets

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At least three crew members died penultimate Wednesday and around four others disappeared following the explosion of an oil storage and production vessel, the FPSO Trinity Spirit, located at the Ukpokiti terminal, near ‘Escravos in the Niger Delta.

The facility, owned by Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited, serves as the main production facility for Oil Concession 108, offshore the western Niger Delta. It has a processing capacity of 22,000 barrels per day and a storage capacity of two million barrels.

The aftermath of the blast has prompted environmentalists to raise concerns about a possible major spill and its impact, although National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency Director General Idris Musa, told the AFP that “no spill incidents” had occurred “other than emulsified oil in small quantities”.

“There will definitely be a spill,” insisted Mike Karikpo of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. “This is a facility that processes over 20,000 barrels per day…the oil will reach surrounding communities.”

Similarly, the executive director of the Niger Delta Good Governance and Environment Initiative, Eric Omare, said tidal waves could have washed away the spilled oil, warning that the full impact would soon be felt. feel.

Greenpeace Africa, the continental arm of a global environmental body, said in a statement on Tuesday that the blaze was characteristic of the unscrupulous habits of the fossil fuel industry, pointing out that the vessel had survived its life of 20 years and should have been decommissioned long ago.

“Shebah Exploration and Production’s negligence shows that, like most climate criminals, they care more about their profits than the safety of the environment and the people who depend on it,” the Oceans campaign manager said. from Greenpeace Africa, Dr. Aliou Ba. .

Ba added, “The Nigerian government must urgently take responsibility to avoid such threats in the future in order to safeguard the environment and the well-being of the people. The latter have suffered too much from the fossil fuel industry.

“….Environmental crimes like air and water pollution and toxicity should be treated as seriously as any other crime where people are directly harmed. Damaging other people’s lives for money is unfair and too selfish for African countries to continue supporting.

The oil-rich Niger Delta region has suffered monumental degradation over the years, with several host communities battling water and air pollution.

The government has come up with policies to deal with the danger, but with little effort in terms of implementation, such as cleaning up the polluted environment and reducing carbon emissions.

However, beyond human measures, technology plays a crucial role in monitoring activities around vital infrastructure to ensure safety and prevent incidents such as a ship explosion and its resulting environmental impacts. In this regard, autonomous inspection and monitoring systems.

Manufactured by Percepto, AIM is software that uses drones and robots to inspect and monitor critical infrastructure such as power lines, industrial sites, power plants, refineries and mines at frequent intervals.

The software automates a fleet of drones and robots on a routine to collect data for analysis and take decisive action.

AIM was inspired by the 2018 Campfire that rocked Northern California, USA. Described as the deadliest in state history, the inferno was caused by a faulty section of a transmission tower that could have been discovered through frequent inspections and prevention.

“With better foresight, we might be able to prevent these environmental tragedies that seem to happen every month,” Percepto chief executive Dor Abuhasira said.

The robot manufacturing company recently launched its enhanced AIM platform which can be integrated with drones and autonomous robots as well as other visual data collectors, including DJI drones and fixed cameras.

According to a report by Oil Review Africa, an oil and gas magazine, “Percepto aims to offer the only end-to-end solution powered by AI (artificial intelligence) to bring together and streamline all visual data for accurate and actionable insights” .

“Reports and insights are generated automatically based on the combined visual data. Disseminated to relevant stakeholders on any mobile device, issues and defects are geolocated and displayed on a map, enabling effective action before escalating into more serious issues,” he added.

One of AIM’s latest innovations is Percepto Air Max, operating in the largest mining, oil, gas and energy companies on six continents and designed to inspect and map complex industrial environments where the utmost precision and durability are essential.

The report further notes that Percepto Air Mobile is a new, more compact and lighter model, suitable for small and large sites that need greater deployment flexibility.

“It’s ideal for linear inspections, such as pipelines and power lines, and can monitor short-term projects across multiple sites,” he said.

A Professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at Babcock University, Ilisan-Remo, Ogun State, Oludele Awodele, said that AIM devices if properly deployed ensure the safety and security of critical assets more than humans.

He explained that the extent and nature of information fed into an autonomous drone, for example, would determine its level of performance unaided by any human intervention.

Awodele said: “They can be used as a watchdog to make sure the proper security is in place. A drone is one of the new technologies that are imbued with the concept of artificial intelligence. It is a constructed intelligence that is remotely controlled. Some of them are even integrated and control part of the system itself. They are just programmed and they do whatever you want them to do.

“Most autonomous systems work with data. The more information you give them, the better they perform. If deployed to work alone without a human agent (human intervention), their implementation is protected by supervised learning. Once they get the required data information, they start acting intelligently on their own. This is why they are called autonomous and can be used to monitor infrastructure anywhere with complex programs even better than human agents. They act independently and ensure properties are safe and secure.

The expert, however, warned that certain procedures must be followed when deploying robotic equipment so that it does not become a threat to human agents.

He said: “The danger is that there are procedures. Before deploying a robotic device, there must be an agreement that it will be deployed in a way that does not threaten or harm human agents. All these precautions are there but at the same time, anything can happen. But whatever happens, it will be due to human error during programming.

For his part, a professor of management information system, Ariyo Adebiyi, said AI-powered devices are increasingly being deployed in developed countries to monitor vital infrastructure facilities, urging Nigeria to imitate other nations.

He said: “Drones are useful for monitoring critical infrastructure. It can be deployed depending on the facilities we want it to monitor. This is how it happens in advanced countries. There are surveillances in place in developed countries that we need to explore and this is (AIM) a welcome development. Beyond video surveillance cameras, new technologies are emerging and being used in developed countries.

Likewise, a computer science professor specializing in software engineering, Sunday Idowu, said autonomous drones and robotics are crucial for gathering information about infrastructure facilities, especially those located in remote and hard-to-reach places.

He said: “It’s what we call the Internet of Things or artificial intelligence. The system is able to generate data about the infrastructure, its location and the movement of people around it. It is an emerging useful tool and it has the ability to perform surveillance, especially in remote places where humans cannot easily access. ,,

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