​Drones becoming integral to oil and gas operations: report

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are becoming integral to the oil and gas industry due to their increasing usability across the value chain to drive operational efficiency, according to a report from GlobalData.

Initially, drone adoption in the oil and gas industry was used for strategic deployments such as remote monitoring and surveillance of assets during regular operations, as well as emergency situations, but recent advancements in sensing and imaging technologies are enabling drones to be deployed in a wide range of settings to carry out predictive maintenance of critical infrastructure, GlobalData said.

Added impetus for drone usage is coming from the industry’s steady transition towards digital transformation using sensors, cloud computing and the Internet of Things, bolstered further by falling hardware costs and easing government regulations, according to the report.

“Drone technologies are easy to deploy, giving them an edge over conventional aircraft as their rotors are configured for operating in compact geometries and hovering at fixed spots to collect data. Their design allows them to survey a variety of installations, including oil and gas platforms, processing plants, pipelines and refining units,” GlobalData analyst Ravindra Puranik said in a statement.

“Naturally, drones are becoming essential for oil and gas operations.”

Researchers added that as drone use is increasing in the oil and gas industry, it heightens the possibility of drone-related accidents either due to technical malfunctions or bad judgment from drone operators.

“However, to avoid such incidents, a new set of expertise is emerging within the oilfield services space, dedicated specifically to pilot drones, which will enable service providers to make optimum usage of drones to gather relevant data for their customers,” GlobalData said.

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