Drone applications in oil and gas will help in simplifying many business workflows such as site exploration, inspections, security, and worksite safety.
The oil and gas industry is a vital contributor to many other businesses as it provides fuel for transportation, energy generation, and other activities. To provide fuel, oil and gas companies undertake operations such as asset management, extraction, purification, and compliance among others. Performing these tasks can be quite difficult due pipelines that span thousands of miles in length. Also, oil and gas companies face a major challenge of workplace safety due to prolonged exposure of workers to hazardous chemicals and dangerous equipment. Besides, worksites can be located in remote environments such as oceans and arctic areas, which can be quite dangerous. Also, oil and gas companies may often face unplanned shutdowns due to power outages. Hence, these companies need to find solutions to all these issues. Drones have simplified many tasks in industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and construction. Similarly, drone applications in oil and gas can transform many business operations. Drones can automatically gather crucial data about many business processes. Such data can help companies in understanding business trends and areas of improvement. Using such data, companies can develop strategies to maximize output. Also, drones can automate certain aspects of maintenance and inspection procedures. With this, companies can eliminate unplanned downtimes. Hence, these solutions can increase employee productivity and workplace efficiency. Besides, drones can also help in keeping workers safe by identifying hazardous areas that can be avoided. Hence, oil and gas companies must adopt drones for many business processes.
Oil and gas companies can use drones in the following manner:
Drones can be helpful in exploring new and existing onshore and offshore sites. These devices can carry out underground, underwater, and aerial explorations to gather visual data. Along with these, drones can perform tasks like water sampling and developing 3D maps of prospective sites. Also, they can also collect seismic and geological data using cameras and sensors. Drone exploration can allow companies to collect vital data about prospective oil wells. For this purpose, drones can gather topographical data about new locations with laser scanning and GPS. With such data, companies can understand where they can install a facility and which would be the access routes. Also, drones can generate 3D maps that can help companies in understanding the shape and elevation of mountains, building, rivers, and roads. With this data, companies can create better plans for building new worksites.
Drones can collect large volumes of data using cameras and sensors. Such data can help companies in finding real-time solutions for certain issues and analyzing different business procedures. Companies can use the collected data for advanced processing using artificial intelligence in oil and gas. The data collected by drones can help companies in identifying issues that are otherwise difficult to detect. For example, companies can spot corrosion-prone areas using the data collected by drones. Also, such data can help in creating strategies to improve business procedures and increase employee productivity. Hence, drone-based data collection can be quite profitable for oil and gas companies.
Surveying and mapping potential worksites can be quite time-consuming and risky. However, drones can simplify these processes by collecting large volumes of aerial data. Based on the accumulated data, companies can obtain accurate measurements of different objects in many types of terrains. With such data, companies can generate 3D models, orthophotos, and digital elevation models of prospective sites. Besides, drones can provide on-demand aerial data for terrain mapping, stockpile volume measurements, and site planning. Hence, drones can make surveying and mapping processes more efficient and inexpensive compared to the manual approach.
Drones can simplify inspection tasks in oil and gas worksites. Drones can inspect the external and internal surfaces of different equipment using cameras and sensors. Such drones can detect leaks, corrosion, damages, and heat spots in equipment and pipelines. Also, drones can determine the direction of gas leaks and spills to help in evacuating the affected area. Drones can work in harsh temperatures, remote locations, and difficult terrains. Hence, these devices can be closer to oil and gas infrastructure compared to helicopters and provide better visuals. Also, drones can work along with workers, reducing site shutdowns for inspections. With this, drones can make inspection and maintenance tasks more efficient. And, drones can make this process safer as they don’t require human assistance.
Natural disasters like earthquakes can damage oil and gas infrastructure. Specialized drones can detect seismic activity near flare stacks, pipelines, and oil rigs. After detecting any abnormal seismic activity, drones can alert the concerned parties. With such alerts, oil and gas companies can respond quickly and execute mitigation strategies. For example, companies can close the valves temporarily and evacuate areas in the vicinity of the worksite. Hence, companies can instantly take precautionary measures to reduce the damage caused by natural disasters.
The oil and gas industry is one of the most unsafe work environments with reports of hundreds of workplace fatalities and injuries. Workers are often exposed to harmful gases and have to work with dangerous equipment. Hence, workplace safety is a major concern for oil and gas companies. Drones can detect hazardous locations during exploration and extraction. Such drones can provide visuals of different dangerous locations, spills, and emissions in the worksite. Hence, workers can avoid these locations until concerned parties fix these issues. Also, drones can be quite helpful in rescue missions. Drones can provide aerial vision and help in finding the safest escape route. Hence, drones can help in ensuring workplace safety.
Drones with special sensors can monitor gas emissions at worksites. Spotting such gas emissions can be quite difficult without drones. Drones can easily spot gas emissions and affected areas and send alerts to concerned parties. Companies can inform their workers to avoid affected areas and take precautionary measures. Hence, drones can help in reducing the damage that can be caused by gas emissions.
Oil and gas companies can face many security threats such as theft, sabotage, and piracy. Hence, companies need better security protocols along with security guards.
Drones can perform security surveillance for the entire worksite. These drones can alert security guards in case of emergencies or intrusions. In such situations, drones can also provide live feeds and record illegal activities as evidence. Also, drones with smart cameras can identify suspicious activities in the worksite. In case they spot any suspicious activity, they can send alerts to the security staff. Hence, drones can ensure security in the workplace.
Drones can help oil and gas companies in decreasing costs and making worksites safer. Besides, drones can perform many core tasks with greater speed and accuracy. With further development, drone applications in oil and gas can become even more advanced. Soon, drone robots may be capable of inspecting and repairing assets like pipelines. With such solutions, oil and gas companies will move away from the manual approach of performing core tasks. Using drones, companies will be able to automate many business workflows, reduce downtimes, and improve production. Hence, the adoption of drones should be a priority for oil and gas companies.
Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.