Unmanned aerial vehicles (also referred to as drones) have been used in a lot of applications lately, such as photography, movie-making, aerial surveys, and even in warfare, where they have shown distinct advantages in reconnaissance and attack. However, their commercial use in the energy sector is just getting under way, and is rapidly gaining popularity due to their versatility and wide range of applications.
The world’s biggest oil and gas companies are turning to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) rather than people, for inspecting and monitoring offshore rigs, pipelines,storage tanks, flare stacks and other infrastructure.
“UAVs are safer and more cost-effective than a lot of inspection techniques that are presently available. They are ideal for inspections in difficult-to-access areas or areas which are unsafe for workers.” says Kayode Adeleke, Senior Executive Vice President of RusselSmith Group, which is also a provider of aerial inspection services.
The recent fall in oil prices has forced a lot of companies to find more efficient ways of operating in the oil and gas industry. Energy companies are on a cost-cutting mission, suspending production in certain areas, cutting budgets, reducing their workforces and generally trying to achieve more with less resources. In situations like this, the emergence of innovative technologies such as aerial inspection services will play an important role in helping companies achieve operational efficiency.
Over the past year, industry giants such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell have deployed drone technology for inspections, showing the acceptance of the technology.
The NNPC, Nigeria’s national oil company, recently announced that it planned to deploy drones to tackle theft as well as the risk of mechanical failure across its fleet of oil vessels working along the coastlines.
Are UAVs here to stay? Will they play a big part in the oil and gas industry, especially in Nigeria? We certainly think so!