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Video: Drones Helping to Make Oil and Gas Facilities More Efficient

07 March 2018

Intel Corp. is using its drone fleet in order to help oil and gas facilities perform aerial modeling and inspections in order to help increase safety, save time and reduce cost of surveying.

Recently, Intel helped Airscope, an Australian-based inspection and asset visualization company, to develop computer-generated 3D models or entire hydrocarbon processing facilities off the North West shelf of Australia and in the Cooper Basin. The use of the Falcon 8+ drone in this surveying was able to bring the field into the boardroom for asset management.

“We made the transition to asset visualization because UAV inspection only gave clients a fraction of the story; without context, the full potential of images captured cannot be realized,” says Chris Leslie, Airscope’s director and a certified commercial airline pilot. “So now we create a virtual canvas of the entire site using airborne photogrammetry, ground photogrammetry and laser scanning. Once the virtual canvas is created, you can paint any operational or planning data on it, to serve as a human medium to access and interact with big data.”

Leslie says the benefits of aerial modeling and inspections lead to day-to-day cost reductions between 3.6 percent and 10 percent depending on the industry, and capital works projects being reduced by more than 20 percent.

“We are entering a period where decisions are being determined by the data at hand and companies that haven’t started their transformation towards digitization will be left behind,” Leslie says.

Intel worked with Airscope and local Australian distributor Position Partners to deliver 3D models to Santos-operated facilities in the Cooper Basin. Santos used the technology to not just provide large-scale virtual models but also inspection services of critical assets.

The Falcon 8+ drone is a multi-rotor UAV that is capable of pre-programmed flight plans and is able to capture hundreds of aerial images per flight. These images can be stitched together to form a holistic 3D model through the photogrammetry process. Airscope then uses laser scanning data into photogrammetry to make the model accurate enough for use in detailed engineering design of major infrastructure projects.

The quality and rate of data captured from systems such as Falcon 8+ UAV increase efficiencies and lower operating costs by working around-the-clock to provide a full model of the plant on the Airscope Visualize platform, Intel says. Not only does this reduce preparation work and disruption to the operation, but also eliminates risks for activities such as working at height or exposure to hazardous working environments.

To contact the author of this article, email [email protected]

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