Drones reporting for work in oil and gas applications

July 20, 2018 | #All

There is no question the Australian, and indeed the global oil and gas industry, is being transformed by flying technology.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known to the lay person as drones, are now employed by some of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world. Manoeuvring effortlessly around flare stacks, oil rigs, under decks, and along kilometres of pipeline, these rugged, remote-operated birds and their remarkable payload capacity, are now saving Australian oil and gas operations literally millions of dollars and making traditional operations much faster and safer than ever before.

But this is simply the cherry next to the pie!  Experts are predicting the commercial application of drones will generate the most explosive growth. Forecasts for global revenue puts this figure at an astonishing $A6.6 billion by 2020.

As part of this, the oil and gas industry will be one of the top four sectors with the greatest potential for drone integration. Ultimately, UAVs in land pipeline inspection is estimated to be worth $A41 million globally, and as much as $A1.1 billion for offshore rigs and refineries.

Monitoring for leaks or gas emissions, detecting spills, and ensuring that rigs and pipelines are safe and in compliance with regulations, are among the most crucial operational tasks that oil and gas companies carry out. Inspections can prove massively costly and typically require facilities to shut down for days or even weeks, losing millions of dollars in lost production.

This work can also come at great risk. Inspectors have to use ropes and harnesses and other safety equipment to reach hard-to-access areas on sites like offshore platforms and often in proximity to harmful chemicals. Because of this, businesses are under pressure to find a way to perform these inspections without putting lives in danger and reducing costs.

So what do we like for oil and gas applications?

Delair

Familiar to the Australian oil and gas industry and indeed, known globally across the global resources sector, Delair’s UAV equipment gives operators dedicated and field-ready tools. This technology has, over the years, allowed operators to assess situations based on data collected from their drones and has proven itself to save millions of operational dollars (and indeed many lives), via their ability to provide timely information so rapid preventive or corrective maintenance can be undertaken.

In real terms, the technology allows for decisions to be made on the basis of reliable intelligence rather than educated guesses, which obviously enhances productivity and increases ROI.

Delair DT 18

In regard to specific products, we recommend the Delair DT 18 – a fixed-wing, long-range, survey, monitoring and inspection drone, it is designed for large area use with best-in-class coverage and range performance.

It is ideal for oil and gas operations that cover vast distances over (often) inhospitable terrain.  The DT 18 consistently (even in adverse conditions), provides instant, highly-precise and reliable surveying, monitoring and inspection data.

It is also certified for Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) – essential for large scale oil and gas monitoring, and has direct georeferencing embedded in its design to provide mapping without the need for any survey Ground Control Points (GCPs).

It also has an impressive 2-hour flight time and integrates Delair’s new HD sensor options. This technology uses PPK and a high-precision Inertial Motion Unit. These features ensure an easy workflow from drone through to analytics.

So overall, an excellent UAV choice for oil and gas operations.

Microdrones – mdTector

We like the mdTector1000 as it is purpose designed for oil and gas applications. It has a Pergam sensor mounted and integrated with the Microdrones md4-1000 drone. It has an on-board HD video link which means you can view (in real time) what is being detected with the laser sensor.

It also accesses areas that are inaccessible or inhospitable for people. So if the oil or gas infrastructure is on a riverbed or near a steep cliff, this rugged commercial dorne can easily access the terrain.

Overall it is perfect for:

  • Natural gas line surveys
  • Tank inspections
  • Gas well testing
  • Landfill emission monitoring
  • Plant safety

Getting underway

If you are new to drone technology or simply want to learn more, we highly recommend you speak to a UAV specialist that can advise you on both drone options and the best approach to their commercial use in applications such as oil and gas.

Sphere Drones is arguably Australia’s leading source of expertise on commercial drone technology solutions in Australia.

Their Sydney-based operation is a state-of-the-art solutions development facility with some of the UAV industry’s leading personnel – making it (or their website) a logical first step to learn more about or identify a solution for your commercial needs.  

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