Oil & gas facilities – both onshore and offshore – require frequent inspections and maintenance to ensure safety and avoid failure. The main methods nowadays for inspecting hard-to-reach areas are shutting down the operations, building scaffolding or installing rope lines, and assigning inspectors with cameras to dangerous areas. In addition to expensive closing times, the logistics and dangers of these processes have a significant impact on the bottom line.
By using drone technology, oil and gas companies are benefiting from a reduction in hazardous working hours. According to industry sources, using drones for inspections can result in efficiency gains up to 33 percent, and up to a 50 percent reduction in inspection costs.
1. Pipeline inspection and remote monitoring
Drones can be quite handy to monitor pipelines in various areas efficiently, especially in dangerous zones where illegal activities often occur. The drone can be equipped with various sensors such as high-resolution cameras and thermal cameras to detect leaks or intruders in crowded areas, as well as night vision cameras to identify objects and any night activities.
This can facilitate the task of security patrols to ensure the production and performance of midstream assets.
The drone is fully autonomous and can fly predefined corridors with automatic terrain following.
2. High-Resolution Visual Inspection to Minimize Human Risk and Identify Illegal Activities
We cannot always rely on human visuals to supervise the state of dangerous facilities such as flare stack and underdeck without exposing the risks to humans. In addition to its use of performing a visual inspection, a drone can also provide high-resolution imagery to identify illegal activities such as the ones that occur in refineries and wells. It can also detect oil spills by comparing baseline data to understand environmental change. Aside from that, the drone is also helpful to do the mapping of all operational assets and equipment.
The use of a drone is also valuable to solve various problems, including risk exposure to humans by consistently providing significant visual inspection results without missing any important piece of information. The drone can do many dangerous tasks efficiently with more controlled risk. It can also provide thermal imagery to show deeper insights into facility performance.
3. Ultrasonic Testing for Tall Objects without Rope Access
Nowadays, a drone can perform not only a visual inspection using high resolution and thermal imagery but also the Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) especially the Ultrasonic Testing (UT). By having this solution, the process can be improved in terms of workers’ time and safety.
This solution is useful for land storage tanks, especially the inside of the tank. Besides testing, the drone is also equipped with a blaster to remove soft rust and liquid penetrants.