Are Drones the eye in the sky for effective surveillance ?

Recent developments in drone technology may offer a solution.

For a variety of reasons, scheduling pipeline maintenance and surveillance tasks has become exceptionally difficult. Some of the reasons are as follows:

  • Capability to detect system failures such as compressor downtime or oil and gas pipe rupture;
  • Responding quickly to pipeline servicing or routine maintenance requests;
  • Providing efficient and cost-effective human resource management;
  • Being able to reach out to remote areas on time;
  • Being able to respond quickly to natural disasters such as hurricanes, which may cause equipment downtime; 

Many vendors today provide software tools for scheduling and maintenance. While these software tools address many of the issues raised, they do not address issues such as access to remote pipeline locations, dealing with natural disasters, and providing real-time surveillance against terrorist or sabotage activities.

Drones and robots could be used to solve problems that other tools cannot. It should come as no surprise that the use of drone inspections to perform pipeline maintenance and surveillance tasks will become common  in the near future. This article discusses some of the ways that drone-based inspections make it easier to address issues such as pipeline maintenance and surveillance task scheduling.

Drones enhance current methods of inspecting oil equipment.

Regular inspections are required to ensure that oil equipment is safe and operational. Human inspections are ideal, but they are neither cost-effective nor safe when inspecting equipment in remote or difficult-to-access locations. It is preferable to send drones to inspect equipment after natural or man-made disasters involving oil or gas leaks rather than sending technicians and maintenance personnel.

The advantages of drone-based inspections are:

  • They eliminate the risk that technicians and maintenance personnel face in hazardous environments.
  • They offer day and night surveillance.
  • Perimeter security.
  • Pipeline RoU surveillance. 
  • RoU Management and Mapping.
  • Higher coverage areas.
  • Increased manoeuvrability than CCTVs.
  • Quicker response in Disaster Management.
  • Faster search and rescue operations.  

They lead to significant savings with the ability to reduce the cost of compliance, reduce the cost of technology, and provide easy accessibility. The rich data we receive allows us to discover new insights faster and more efficiently.  

Drones are a revolutionary technology in pipeline maintenance.

A shift toward clean, renewable energy is affecting the oil and gas industry. Maintenance costs take full responsibility for a substantial portion of operational costs. The savings provided by oil and gas drone inspections are gratefully acknowledged.

However, apart from cost savings in manpower consumption, a prominent benefit of drone-based inspection is the ability to detect oil leaks. A new drone developed in collaboration with General Electric can detect gas leaks up to half a mile away from a well site. This is clearly preferable to having an oil technician with an infrared camera walk around an unsafe well site.

Many of the challenges that make scheduling pipeline maintenance and surveillance tasks difficult are insurmountable with current software tools. Drone or UAV-based inspection has been shown to provide compelling reasons to integrate their use into an oil equipment maintenance and surveillance plan. Even if the world transitions to clean, renewable energy, drone-based inspections will remain valuable and necessary for equipment maintenance and surveillance. Drones are becoming indispensable for future pipeline maintenance and surveillance tasks as software tools, GPS technology, non-contact sensors, and robotic technology are integrated into them. 

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