Remote inspections via drones gaining traction in oil and gas industry

19 October 2021

Oil and gas companies are beginning to embrace the use of drones for inspection work as the technology becomes more pervasive in the industry, according to new research from Beroe.

Manual inspections take time and can be expensive and exhausting for humans. Additionally, this could come with handling hazardous or dangerous substances or equipment that could led to injuries or worse.

"Drones are a flexible and cost-effective way to conduct inspections across the oil and gas industry value chain," said Prashanthi P S, research analyst at Beroe Inc. "Drones can increase the safety of workers, improve the quality of investigations, and reduce the high costs associated with manual reviews. Some of the other applications include pipeline inspections, deep water offshore location assessments, offshore vessels, rigs, underwater services, security, surveillance, monitoring, mapping, delivery of goods and survey for the potential asset."

Both onshore and offshore inspections are expensive with labor making up about 30% of the total cost. Drones are more cost effective and can be faster than human inspections especially for pipelines and underwater equipment. Drones can be fitted with sensors that can monitor methane emissions from assets in the oil and gas industry to detect potential problems or failures in equipment.

Remote drone inspections can also eliminate the costs of having to send personnel to an offshore location that generally requires a helicopter flight. Drones can perform image inspection through video, still, infrared and thermal images captured by cameras fitted on drones.

When inspecting flare stacks, the flares can be kept online without interrupting production, eliminating about $1 million per day per flare. Remote inspections of fluid catalytic cracking units with drones is more efficient as refinery downtime is not needed, preventing a loss of about $2 million per day.

"The use of drones in the oil and gas industry adds enormous value in terms of ease of operation, the safety of personnel, continued production, and reduced operational costs." said Prashanthi P S. "With the continued development of drone technology, it's interesting to look forward to seeing new commercial drone applications and how they can be integrated with quality control, quality assurance, and maintenance processes. And when you add AI and automation to this mix, the existing benefits compound tremendously."

Learn more about drone use in the oil and gas industry with Beroe’s latest research.

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