Commercial Drone Services are becoming more and more necessary for Aerial Inspections of:
- Wind Turbines
- Cell Towers
- Solar Farms
- Oil Field Construction
- Pipeline Surveys
- Storm Damage
A recent MRT article explains what is happening in the Oil Field:
Whether it’s siting a drilling pad, checking the right-of-way for a pipeline or inspecting for leaks, having an eye in the sky is invaluable to the energy industry.
That eye in the sky has evolved from airplanes in the early days to helicopters to drones, formally known as unmanned aerial systems. These systems are forecast by Goldman Sachs to grow to a $100 billion market between by 2020, dominated by the $70 billion military market, $17 billion consumer market and $13 billion commercial/civil market, the fastest growing of the three segments. The Federal Aviation Administration is forecasting that the number of UAVs will leap from 600,000 units in 2017 to 2.7 million by 2020.
“Drones are well-suited to meet the needs of operators visually assessing their assets, gathering and providing data sets,” said Danny Avant, director of sales for Arch Aerial.
Avant and Ryan Baker, company founder and chief executive officer, were in Midland to address the Permian Basin Petroleum Association.
“Inspections done by foot or helicopter can now be done by UAS and reduce the safety risk associated with right-of-way operations,” Avant said. “(Drones) are pushing the boundaries of methods that required excessive labor, time and resources.”
Following the presentation, Avant told the Reporter-Telegram that the oil and gas industry had “held back” on adopting the use of drones but energy companies are now jumping into the technology.
Avant said drones can provide 2-D mapping of land development or right-of-way inspection, 3-D aerial mapping of refineries, volumetric analyses of petrochemical coke or the depths of frac ponds and 2-D mapping of pipelines and pipeline right-of-way. Add infrared and thermal imaging capability and drones can inspect the integrity of production facilities, he said.
“Emission control is a new area,” said Avant.
Baker said the midstream sector is big business because the drones can offer better, more accurate data.
“They give more visibility and the ability to annotate vegetation,” he said.
For example, if a company sends a crew to cut tree limbs encroaching on a right-of-way, telling them the limbs are 50 feet from the gate can still send them in the wrong direction. With drones, the GPS coordinates can be sent to the crew, leading them directly to the site.
The advances in drone technology means an increase in the data gathered and provided by the machines, Baker said.
“We’ve spent a lot of time developing the infrastructure to process that data,” said Baker, who said that in the next few years his company will be on track to create a pedabyte of data.
There are challenges to address as the use of drones increases, Avant said Those challenges include privacy concerns, certification of operators, standards of operation and cybersecurity concerns.