Recently, drones have been used to complete difficult tasks for the oil, gas and mining industry. These tasks are related to monitoring efforts that otherwise should need of manned aircraft. In this logic, the development of new technologies to automate UAVs to get and generate imagery to identify threats to pipelines or other infrastructure facilities is essential for managers to respond in time to oil spills or other incidents.
For these industries as any other, development of technology aims to improve the quality of their services and to offer a broader range of solutions for the final users. In these industries, which usually are not directly linked to the final customer, this technology is used within the industry. Innovations are safeguarded jealously because it could represent a competitive advantage to do something faster and cheaper. In the case of using UAVs both advantages are evident.
Capital-intensive industries try desperately to reduce costs and the integration of new technologies to their daily activities will definitely help. Drones, if compared with manned aircraft, can complete the same observation and exploration tasks at only a small fraction of its cost. The oil and gas industry is used to spend big quantities of time and resources on inspection duties, which are not always easy to find. Identification of the problem is the most time consuming part in this process, the use of drones in this logic represent substantial savings.
On one hand, traditional surveillance of either oil or gas ducts is a manual process, personal is needed regularly to visit the sites, take samples and test them if needed. Often, no problems are found. Therefore, time and resources are spent on unnecessary activities: the rent of a manned aircraft, pilot honoraria, unnecessary lab samples and processed information. On the other hand, remote monitoring can be done continuously and the information obtained is usually accurate.
Especially for in-land remote areas and coast with limited accessibility UAVs perform particularly good. In Alaska (one of the drones’ test sites), many oil companies have sponsored demonstrations focused on improving oil spill response and clean up capabilities, as well as on pipeline inspection. Together with NGO’s and governmental agencies they have tested and evaluated simulations on high sensitive environments, which are currently monitored by manned aircraft. After these exercises, they found enough arguments to augment or even replace traditional surveillance methods with a most efficient alternative that also reduces human risk, as Allen and Walsh (2008) stayed.
UAVs are efficient tools to eliminate needless jobs. These industries demand of expensive manpower and extensive resources to maintain and repair all types of power utilities. UAV technology is safe, so drones could be employed not only to assist but also to accomplish missions where staffing requirements were needed, e.g. finding covered or forgotten...