Benefits Of Drones In Oil And Gas Industry

Benefits Of Drones In Oil And Gas Industry

gas & oilUnmanned aerial vehicles, known as UAVs or drones are now becoming part of the technology that’s transforming the oil and gas industry landscape.

They are being used by the biggest oil and gas companies around the world. They can maneuver effortlessly around oil rigs, flare stacks, along miles of pipelines. Drones can spot leaks in natural gas pipelines, inspect transmission and distribution lines and evaluating thermal power plants.

They can save business millions of dollars and making inspections safer. Researcher are working to make them more useful to the industry. Commercial application of drones is the next step that could see a global revenue of $6.6 billion by 2020.

Oil and gas industry could be one of the top sectors with the greatest potential of drone usage and integration into their operations. Utilizing drones in pipeline inspection is estimated to be worth $41 million globally and $1.1 billion for offshore rigs and refineries.

The top priority for the industry is to monitor leaks and gas emissions, detecting spills, while ensuring that rigs and pipelines are safe and compliant with the regulations.

Inspection of facilities can be expensive, it could require having production to shut down for days or weeks, the cost could be estimated in millions of dollars.

Using drone could be a safer way to survey the facility. Keeping the workers out of danger and away from harmful chemicals. While inspectors must use ropes, harnesses and rappelling equipment to reach some of the most difficult areas, industry leaders are seeing the benefits to utilized drones.

Intel is now creating drones that are customs to meet the demand for the oil and gas industry.  The latest drone created by Intel called the Falcon 8+ has been engineered to brave external disturbances like powerful winds, weak GPS signals, and magnetic field interference thanks to a triple redundant autopilot, the device boasts the best power-to-size ratio on the market.

The Falcon 8+ is smart, it can maintain flight even in the face of some mechanical failure or one of the eight motors malfunctioning. The carbon-fiber chassis and V-shaped body allow for a 180-degree view, with cameras which can snap real-time, time-stamped, georeferenced photos with accuracy down to the millimeter, as well as thermal images.

The Falcon 8+ is currently used by Cyberhawk company to inspect flare stacks at a gas terminal in Saint Fergus, Scotland, where gusts wind can reach 40mph. The drone was able to complete the inspection in just over a day while it would have taken three days for three workers to complete the same inspection. It did not require to have the facility to shut down, saving up to 5 million a day.

“In the last 20 years that I’ve worked in the inspection industry, drones are the single biggest change we’ve seen to date,” says Chris Fleming, CEO of Cyberhawk.

Drones can offer numerous preventative capabilities, but large complex oil and gas company remain at the mercy of events like natural disasters. Drones were used in the aftermath of recent hurricanes. When inaccessible roads, the drones helped performed search and rescue missions and provide inspectors to assess infrastructures like petroleum refineries from a far.

Following Hurricane Harvey in Houston, 10 oil refineries were closed, knocking out 16.6% of the total US refining capacity. The main conduit of natural gas from Texas to the Northeast was also taken offline for safety. Several sites sustained heavy flood damage, officials assumed that extremely flammable methane was leaking from gas pipelines. The Department of Energy deployed drones to assess the sites. Utilizing the drones for inspection of the sites, it was determined that no pipeline leaks had occurred.

Drones are becoming the most reliable and safe way for inspection for the gas and oil industry but also provide an efficient way to survey their assets while adding cost saving along the way.

Companies like Intel are now customizing drones to meet the oil and gas industry demand. Making them smarter, robust to safely inspects infrastructure providing live data while keeping workers safe.

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