Oil, Gas and Derivatives
The oil and gas industry has unique needs and challenges and the utilization of drones as a tool in their toolbox creates previously unavailable options.
Industry leaders have demonstrated the efficacy of drone inspections in oil and gas production and pipeline transport including the inspection of exterior and the confined spaces of collection and pressure vessels. One undeniable benefit of drones is the inspection of flare stacks without the significant cost and human risk associated with a flare stack shut down and physical inspection.
The complexity, engineered density and formidable size and heights of refineries and the hazardous conditions they can create make drones well suited for inspection purposes and the mitigation of risk.
Another excellent use of drones involves the inspection of offshore oil and gas platforms. Seasonal and adverse weather and sea conditions along with the compact nature and inaccessible areas common with these structures requires efficient, safe and cost effective inspections. Structural and cosmetic corrosion and protective coating deterioration from airborne moisture containing salt requires constant attention from the waterline to the top of the structure. Submersible drones for underwater inspections are also an option depending on currents, ambient temperatures and underwater visibility.
Methane gas is a known and significant harmful greenhouse gas. It is argued that the oil and gas industry is responsible for a large amount of global methane emissions. The regulations on methane emissions are seemingly in constant flux. Using drones for inspection and methane leak detection at numerous and dispersed oil and gas well pad sites offers a superior ROI and is a preferred method over the painstaking ground approach through public and private property.
There are dozens of methane detection methods presently available. OGI imagery is a common method with aerial LiDAR most recently being utilized by industry leaders. Modern LiDAR methane sensors are able to cover large swaths of territory from altitude thereby covering larger subject areas more quickly and efficiently.
In the unfortunate event of an accident or the necessity of documenting a crucial engineering undertaking, drones can live stream video of an event anywhere in the world.