Drones in the Oil and Gas Sector 

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Drones in the Oil and Gas Sector 

The Global market for drones in the oil and gas sector is expected to reach 16.72 billion USD by 2025, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 35.24% from 2019. This huge reception for Drones comes from the fact that they make operations in the oil and gas sector Safer, more Efficient and Cost-effective. As we further discuss the applications of drones in the Oil and Gas sector, we will examine how drone-based solutions outshine the traditional methods in the Oil and Gas sector.

Applications of Drones in the Oil and Gas Sector

Leak Detection

While discussing Global Warming, we usually talk only about the contribution of Carbon Dioxide. But did you know that methane has 80 times more warming power than carbon dioxide? And research reveals that oil and gas operations lead to more than three-quarters of total methane emissions contributing to Global Warming.

Don't worry; we have drones to our rescue. A drone's ability to detect leaks and spills is one of the latest advancements in drone technology. This is particularly a crucial advantage to the Oil and Gas sector, as gas leaks are invisible and extremely dangerous to the environment, the community and the workforce. In addition, drone-powered methane gas leak detection will help the Oil and Gas industry to adhere better to environmental guidelines.

The traditional practices of methane gas detection are slow, labour-intensive and costly. In the past, inspectors used to carry plenty of heavy equipment and detect methane gas leaks on foot. Although this is useful when looking for leaks in residential areas, this is not really practical for large-scale inspections as in the Oil and Gas sector. We have depended on helicopters for decades to detect leakage in large-scale projects; however, it is incredibly time-consuming and costly.

This is where drone-powered Gas Leak Detection comes into the picture. A powerful drone paired with the right gas detection payload can detect the presence of methane gas from up to 100 m away in real time; it can capture even very low detection limits of particles as low as 5ppm.

Emergency Response

Almost all industries in the world use drones for emergency response and natural disaster monitoring; the Oil and Gas sector is no different. The threat of a disaster, either man-made or natural, is ever-present. In the event of a disaster, real-time data is crucial. A manned aircraft needs a pilot and takes time from standby to take-off, whereas drones can launch at a moment's notice. Drones allow businesses to effectively respond to emergencies by managing emergency operations better, and allocating resources effectively while ensuring the workforce's safety.

As drones are rugged enough to withstand extreme temperatures, they can be utilized to monitor the development of oil spills and fires. Drones can just fly around the mission area while equipping responders with photos, live video streams, and GPS coordinates. Some drones even have long-lasting batteries, enabling them to fly longer hours at a single stretch.

Asset Inspection and Remote Surveillance

The Oil and Gas industry is no stranger to hazards on the job. This makes it even more crucial to ensure that all the components and assets on the field are well-maintained and compliant. Therefore, routine Oil and gas inspections are the way forward, as this helps the companies ensure their systems' integrity.

No, there is absolutely no room for traditional inspections; by the time the traditional inspection is done, even a minor issue might have ended up as a catastrophic accident. Not only the time involved; traditional methods are hazardous and involve a huge sum of money. Even after investing so much, are we delighted with the results? NO! Meanwhile, on the other hand, drones empower you with 'Predictive Maintenance.' Allowing you to conduct maintenance during planned downtime and prevent catastrophic accidents.

Similar is the case with drone-powered remote monitoring and surveillance. Drones can just fly around and track everything - essential oil and gas equipment, flare stacks, storage tanks, monitor field operations, workers, detect encroachment on valuable company properties and trespassers. Moreover, drones can swiftly and securely carry out inspections without risking lives; what generally took months is now possible in a matter of days to weeks. In addition, drones can be equipped with powerful payloads to identify any sort of defects or potentially hazardous situations.

Did you know, we inspected one of the tallest Flare Stacks in the world? Inspecting this flare stack using traditional methods was a slow, dangerous, and labour-intensive process. Even before the inspection could happen, the pre-inspection procedures would alone have taken more than a week - obtaining clearance documents, shutting and cooling down the stack, and more. Now, how about the actual inspection? Inspectors would have to climb up the 160m tall stack via rope and scaffolding. But that's not the story anymore. The FEDS Team confidently took up this challenging project; we chose the DJI M-300 paired with the H20T payload for the mission. Click here to read the entire case study.

Convinced Yet?

Drones are an incredible tool for the entire Energy Sector, not just for Oil and Gas. BP, one of the world's seven oil and gas "supermajors", is one of the early adopters of drones in their operations. We are aware that the Business entities are more concerned about the "cost-factor" associated with operations; But you know what, drone inspections in the Oil & Gas field are helping companies significantly cut down costs; we covered that in our recent article here. The presence of Drones-as-a-Service companies further improves ROI and reduces capital expense.

Are you a professional from the Oil and Gas sector? It's time to work together with FEDS. Team FEDS is one of the first in the world to be  ISO 21384-3:2019 certified – the first International Standard specifically for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

About the author

Maria Thomas


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