Drones enter mainstream use in the oil and gas industry

30 August 2019 (Last Updated August 30th, 2019 10:09)

GlobalData’s latest thematic report, ‘Drones in Oil & Gas’ discusses the increasing deployment of drones to drive operational efficiency in the oil and gas industry. 

Drones enter mainstream use in the oil and gas industry

GlobalData’s latest thematic report, ‘Drones in Oil & Gas’ discusses the increasing deployment of drones to drive operational efficiency in the oil and gas industry. 

Unmanned aerial vehicles – UAVs or, more commonly, drones – have become integral to the oil and gas industry over the last few years. This is owing to their increasing usability, falling hardware costs and easing government regulations. The industry’s steady transition towards digital transformation using sensors, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) is providing an added impetus to drone usage. 

Drones in the industry

Drone technologies are easy to deploy and can transmit precise data to base stations in real-time for taking further actions. Their rotors are configured for operating in compact geometries and hovering at a fixed spot to collect data. This gives drones an edge over conventional aircraft and allows them to be deployed in a wide range of industrial settings and survey a variety of installations. These include oil and gas platforms, processing plants, pipelines, and refining units. Naturally, drones are becoming essential for oil and gas operations.

Drone adoption in the oil and gas industry initially revolved around strategic deployments for remote monitoring and surveillance of assets, during both regular operations and emergency situations. Recent advancements in sensing and imaging technologies enable drone deployment in a wide range of settings. One example is its use in inspection and predictive maintenance of critical infrastructure. Drone makers are also collaborating with oil and gas companies to develop custom drone platforms. These can be equipped with different types of data collection technologies, which can be used to obtain real-time insights.

Are there any drawbacks?

As drone usage is increasing in the oil and gas industry, it heightens the possibility of drone-related accidents due either to a technical malfunction or bad judgement from the drone operator. To avoid such incidents, a new set of expertise is emerging within the oilfield services space dedicated specifically to piloting drones. The right skill sets can enable service providers to make optimum usage of drones, and gather relevant data for their customers.

GlobalData’s thematic research identifies oil and gas companies, such as BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Gazprom, and Shell as the leading players in the adoption of drones in their oil and gas operations. The report also highlights the contribution of drone technology and service providers for the oil and gas industry, such as DJI, PrecisionHawk, and AeroVironment.