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The Rise of Drones: The Latest Technology in the Oil and Gas Industry

Latest Technology in the Oil and Gas Industry
Latest Technology in the Oil and Gas Industry
Drones are proving to be one of the most effective new technologies in the oil and gas industry thanks to their ability to carry out safer inspections and predict maintenance issues with less risk and more accuracy. They are an innovative addition to the oil and gas industry, whose biggest task is to extract precious resources from hard-to-reach and sometimes hazardous environments. Thanks to this new technology, drones are filling the gap that was previously unreachable by humans. What’s more, they are a cheaper choice for production companies looking to increase efficiency in an increasingly competitive market.

There’s no question as to why the rise of drones has become a new trend in the oil and gas industry. The latest drone technology is assisting many companies in becoming more cost-effective, which is increasingly necessary as new discoveries of oil and gas are always being found, thanks to increased technology. The discovery of more reserves increases our global supply of oil and gas and drive prices down. Thus, the new business model in the oil and gas industry is a focus on cost-effective investments rather than simply amassing quantities of fuels.

Part of cost efficiency involves reducing fixed and operational costs, which sum to hundreds of millions of dollars in these industries. Drones can aid oil and gas companies in the exploration, refining, and distribution of fuel sources by converting previously manually conducted operations into done completed projects. Let’s take an example as simple as an oilrig inspection. Traditionally, this task would be carried out by a workman connected to a wire who was lowered into a rig to manually inspect and log any damage found after a period of normal usage. You can imagine how dangerous the combination of natural elements can be at an offsite oil or gas platform. But with drones, this activity can be done more often, with virtually zero human risks, and can even increase the accuracy of inspection through the use of aerial drones and high definition cameras. One drone manufacturing company claims that this process, which would usually take a manual worker 8 weeks, can be completed in just 5 days with an aerial drone.

Maintenance and inspection processes almost always require that oil and gas platforms shut down in order to minimize risk. Oil and gas human resources company Firecroft found that the average one-day shutdown costs each company about one million dollars. Replacing workers with drones for maintenance operations would not only eliminate human risk but also save companies millions of dollars in avoiding a shutdown.

Aside from routine maintenance and operations, drones can quickly reduce the gravity of emergency situations. For example, normally a maintenance team would be tasked with responding to a pipeline emergency without knowing which equipment is needed to resolve the issue until they arrive on site. An aerial drone can offer a set of eyes for the maintenance team, who can get a view of the situation from the drone’s HD camera, allowing them to more adequately prepare for repairs. In general, manual labor requires workers to be exposed to safety hazards, potentially toxic chemicals or gases, fires, etc. Drones, on the other hand, can be equipped not only video cameras but also with thermal cameras and airborne gas sensors to check the atmosphere for any dangerous elements. 

Drones can also serve as a connector to distribute important information across platforms within oil and gas companies. Some companies are equipping drones with Wi-Fi capabilities in order to share access to the data they collect in real time. 

These are just a few example of how the addition of drone technology is an all-around win and innovation in oil and gas industry as they attempt to focus their efforts on reducing waste and increasing efficiency. With less hazardous risks and a decrease in maintenance slowdowns, the drone trend will continue to improve the overall performance of those oil and gas companies who choose to jump on the digital transformation train for a better future.

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