Drones becoming integral to oil and gas operations as companies target efficiency gains

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), 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 GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The company’s latest thematic report, ‘Drones in Oil & Gas – Thematic Research’, states that drone adoption in the oil and gas industry was initially used for strategic deployments such as remote monitoring and surveillance of assets during regular operations, as well as emergency situations.

The report highlights that 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. Drone manufacturers are also collaborating with oil and gas companies to develop custom drone platforms that can be equipped with different types of data collection technologies for obtaining real-time insights. 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. This is bolstered further by falling hardware costs and easing government regulations.

Ravindra Puranik, Oil & Gas Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “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. Naturally, drones are becoming essential for oil and gas operations.”

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’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 drone theme in their oil and gas operations. DJI, PrecisionHawk, and AeroVironment are among the drone technology and service providers contributing to the oil and gas industry.

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