Drone Applications for Oil & Gas Companies

Monitor Oil and Gas Operations with Drones

If you are an oil and gas company that has looked into the idea of purchasing a drone or utilize another company that offers drone services, then you already know how cool the aerial photos and videos are. But are you aware of the other capabilities this new and evolving technology can bring to the table to help you continue building a more safe, efficient and profitable business? In many cases, companies are required to routinely monitor and even thoroughly inspect pipelines and equipment for problems to prevent future catastrophes. The possibilities are almost endless! Every oil and gas company prioritizes 3 things; safety, efficiency and profitability. Drones can help you achieve more success in all 3 of these categories. We will also discuss the practical applications that will help you thrive within those 3 priorities.

Safety

Handling natural resources can present various risks and liabilities. If these resources are not handled with care, you could run in to major environmental issues, develop bad public relations, and even put peoples lives in danger. As a responsible oil and gas company, you have procedures in place to help prevent these problems from occurring. Drones are perfect for inspecting assets on the ground to prevent gas leaks, oil spills and other contaminants. They are great for getting a good look at those hard to reach places that would otherwise require a ladder or bucket truck to effectively inspect. If we are using a drone to detect gas leaks, you are not putting someone on your team in danger of inhaling dangerous fumes that could be deadly. You can develop routine monitoring agreements that help you catch minor issues before they become major catastrophes, causing public relation night mares that could easily cost you millions to recover from.

Efficiency

Maintaining an efficient work environment is crucial, especially when problems arise. If a production company is experiencing a major problem with a gas, oil or saltwater leak from a flow line, it is crucial to know where those flow lines exist to be able to repair damages more efficiently. Not only that, but todays technology can often aid in identifying exactly where the problems are coming from, cutting down on the amount of time your team has to spend locating the problem to repair it. When you lose power to an oil well, there could be 5 different reasons for the power to go down. Rather than spending thousands of dollars and a lot of time to replace parts and test equipment, thermal imaging on drones can pin point exactly where your problems are. With monitoring contracts, these same problems can be detected before they actually cause power outages, saving you from production down time moving forward. After all, if your not producing, your not making money.

Profitability

Time is money. The more you can do now to reduce risk and cut down on man hours, the more profitable your company is likely to be. If you routinely inspect your assets in the field, you reduce your liability, which could even give you a reduction in your insurance premiums. Preventing major problems could save you thousands in equipment repairs and damages. It could save you millions in public relation night mares. Using machines to take on risk as opposed to someones life could save you thousands in workers compensation claims. Having updated maps and equipment documentation of whats in the field will keep your office staff and engineering team up to date for future projects and inquires.

Having a good understand of how drones can benefit you from a safety, efficiency and profitability standpoint, lets discuss how practical applications can make that happen:

Mapping and inspecting underground pipelines/ flow lines

Thermal Pipe Inspections

Many oil fields, new or old, do not have proper documentation of where the underground flow lines exist for each well. Not having these properly identified and documented makes it challenging and costly to locate in the event repairs need to be made. Not only can we map out and identify locations, we can inspect these lines for major and minor leaks. This service goes well beyond just flying a field looking for standing water or oil in a field that doesn’t belong. Routinely inspecting this flow lines in the future helps you to prevent environmental issues, reduces wasted production that doesn’t make it to holding tanks or to the midstream companies transporting your product to the refineries.

We fly your field capturing thousands of both thermal and traditional images, all geo located and referenced. We take these images and process them into high quality maps with an accuracy of less than 3cm when matched with ground control points from a land surveyor. This map provides you a high resolution thermal and traditional image, providing a quality of 1 inch/ megapixel of the map. Between program measuring tools, GPS coordinates and land marks, you can easily identify these flow lines in the field.

Inspect Central Battery for Gas Leaks

Leaking gas and oil equates to revenue loss. This revenue loss can be easily recovered with an inspection to identify the leak and have it repaired. Many leaks are found in flow lines and at Central Batteries before the midstream companies collect and transport the resources to refineries. Therefore, the amount of resources lost could be unknown until identified and revenues are normalized. These central batteries can be efficiently inspected with thermal imaging on drones. The thermal imaging detects the invisible gases and gives us an idea of where problems exist and how big they might be. The use of drones allows us to cover more ground faster by hitting multiple central batteries in one flight rather than driving to re set up every time you need to inspect a unit.

Inspect Power Grids and Electrical Systems

In order to maintain a constant flow of oil or gas production, you must have a reliable electrical system. Production companies often own there own power grid and associated equipment. Maintenance on these systems is often reactive more so than proactive. The reason for this is because it is challenging to identify problems before they actually go down. Technology allows us to be able to inspect power grids for poor connections, over heating lightning arrestors, transformers, grounds, defective load break elbowes, unbalanced loads and more. Almost all of these problems can be detected often months before failure is to occur. Identifying these problems doesn’t just save in down time and lack of production, it also keeps from causing other problems that would not otherwise need fixing due to the failure. Being able to plan an outage and have the appropriate parts and materials means the project is much more affordable to take care of than reacting with an emergency response team that doesn’t really know what they are getting in to. Routinely monitoring your power grid has potential to save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Inspect Pipelines for Gas and Oil Leaks

Once the natural resources are passed from the production companies to the midstream companies, millions of gallons of crude oil and gas are transported to refineries on even a daily basis. The Texas Railroad Commission requires routine inspection and monitoring on systems that transport so much oil because when something goes wrong, it can be a major problem! The use of drones and thermal imaging can be a quality assurance resource to go back and quickly inspect the pipeline after a thorough inspection has been conducted. It can also be a routine monitoring resource to detect both liquid and gas leaks, providing you with a detailed report of the thorough inspection, giving you locations and sizes of problems that exist, both big and small.

Flare Stack Inspections

Flare stacks are required to burn at a certain temperature for regulatory purposes. Inspecting these flare stacks with a thermal camera on a drone gives you a safe and efficient view of the flare stack to get accurate information and temperature readings of the burn. Not maintaining a proper burn can lead to environmental issues and possible fines.

          
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