Energy, oil, and gas manufacturers are beginning to implement drone programs around the world, providing engineers an early opportunity to use smart sensors to “sniff” out leaks, locate faults with precision, inspect facilities, equipment, drilling rigs and pipelines, and assess structural health or damage. Drones are quick to get into the air and don’t require safety nets, and provide live imaging and surveying. Dangerous and cost-inefficient detection tactics, such as scaffolding or deploying helicopter operations, can be a second-response solution.
Safety is top of mind for all utility operators. Spills and leaks have been of extreme concern throughout the history of the industry, with safety of the environment and people the most critical part of a manufacturer’s infrastructure. Combined with the rise and availability of drone technology, these organizations have taken note of how to advance their facility and risk programs, and integrate drone maintenance to help prevent disasters and avoid costly interruptions to their operations.
Energy corporations are investing in drones for maintenance and surveillance, and are also considering the unique risks drone hardware poses to the physical infrastructure of their facilities. Wherever a drone operates to support a structure’s safety program, there must also be a security procedure to ensure proper use and entry of drones in the airspace.
Currently, the oil and gas sector relies primarily on road vehicles, helicopters, and other manned aircraft to detect damage and threats to pipelines, at a significant financial cost. Such organizations need to consider how rogue drones fit into their security equation.
Energy providers and utility operators experienced multiple drone incidents firsthand in the first half of 2017, and were affected by following activities:
The State of Texas’ legislature proposed H.B.A No.A1643, bill that could attach jail sentences to any pilot found guilty of flying a drone over oil and gas drilling facilities. The bill was passed and will go into effect September 2017.
A drone crashed into a Con Edison power plant in New York City. The drone broke into several pieces after striking the building.
Drone crash knocks out power to 1,600 in Mountain View: The hometown of Google, a hobby pilot crashed his drone in a power line, shutting off the city’s electricity, which prompted the evacuations of government buildings and a local library.
Oil & Gas UK released the 2017 UAS Operations Management Standards and Guidelines: The publication aims to guide the growing use drones in offshore oil and gas, to achieve consistency with the high safety and operating standards already adopted for production and helicopter flight operations.
An airspace security platform that detects, classifies and mitigates all drone threats.