18 October, 2021
Drone technology is becoming a valuable tool in the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas companies are opting to use drones to address their inspection needs and reduce operational costs.
Raleigh, North Carolina, Oct 18: Manual inspections in the oil and gas industry are expensive, time-consuming, and demand exhausting work. The oil and gas companies handle highly flammable substances which are hazardous to the personnel performing inspections. Drones for industrial use are proving to be highly beneficial in remote monitoring and assessments. Remote inspections can be performed by inspectors remotely from on-site or off-site locations without physically being present at the site.
“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, deepwater offshore location assessments, offshore vessels, rigs, underwater services, security, surveillance, monitoring, mapping, delivery of goods and survey for the potential asset.”
Manual inspections of onshore and offshore locations are generally expensive. Labor cost is high, constituting up to 30 percent of the total cost. Drones allow cost-effective and faster inspections of pipelines, deepwater offshore, and underwater equipment. Analysis of drone data enables companies to predict the health of the equipment and foresee any potential failures. In addition, drones fitted with sensors can monitor methane emissions from assets in the oil and gas companies.
Manual inspections of offshore locations require helicopters to transport personnel. The cost of transportation for the inspection team and the cost for helicopter pilots is high. With remote drone inspections, these costs can be eliminated. The person in charge need not travel to the site; they can perform image inspection through the video, still, infrared, and thermal images captured by the cameras fitted on drones. Inspectors can then perform advanced analysis of drone data with the help of the company’s data analysis software.
Manual inspection of flare stacks requires the process production to stop for inspection. With remote drone inspections, flares can be kept online without interrupting production. This eliminates production loss of approximately $1 million per day per flare. Remote inspections of Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units with drones are more efficient since refinery downtime would not be needed, preventing production loss of approximately $2 million per day. Scaffolding costs in the oil and gas industry amount to $50 000 to $80,000 per stack. Remote drone inspections can save more than 80 percent of scaffolding costs. Upcoming new drone technologies such as 5G and high-speed drones are expected to further boost the adoption of drones in the oil and gas industry.
“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, Research Analyst at Beroe Inc. “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.”
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