Today, more and more people are using Applus+ RVIS drones and other remote tools for multiple purposes, across a range of locations, yet further possiblities still exist.

What can drones do on an oil & gas asset?

Together with Shell and NAM, Applus+ RVIS decided to explore the possibilities offered by drones on oil and gas assets in a pilot project, ‘Automated Assets’. Inspection drones and pilots were deployed in NAM in Den Helder to assist people in their daily work for one month. The goal of the project was to find new applications for drones and thus enhance their benefits. Based on Applus+ RVIS’ technical knowledge and experience with drones, here are few possibilities:

  1. Find a person within five minutes in search-and-rescue operations on a small site.
  2. Prevent collateral damage from water accumulation on roofs (given that short circuits are one of the major causes of fires on-site).
  3. Collect data for Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  4. Apply ‘No Entry’ protocols during inspection of confined spaces.
  5. Optimise processes, such as using infra-red cameras to detect heat loss or product cooling within pipes.
  6. Remotely monitor suspicious activity on-
  7. Monitor breaches of fences and gates in one-quarter of the time of a security walk-around.
  8. Set frequent waypoint flights over emergency exits to check for obstructions.
  9. Have a security alert, ‘a guard dog in the air’.
  10. Present a quick situational overview in the case of an emergency.
  11. Provide the HSE manager with a birds-eye view to verify that all work is carried out according to safety standards. (This data can then be used to develop appropriate and consistent enforcement responses.)
  12. Remind people to follow safety rules.
  13. Reduce the likelihood of incurring penalties for safety violations.
  14. Spot falling objects, particularly large objects or those falling from height, that constitute the greatest
  15. Drop first aid kits more quickly during emergencies.
  16. Reduce the risk of falls by reducing the number of people working at height during inspections.
  17. Generate orthomaps of the site.
  18. Build 3D models of hard-to-reach assets.
  19. Inspect live flares and save on downtime.
  20. Inspect more than one tank per day with two workers.
  21. Detect birds’ nests and water accumulation on the tops of tanks.
  22. Observe the fluid level in a tank, using an infra-red
  23. Limit energy loss by frequent inspection of heating systems, furnaces and boilers.
  24. Inspect the tops of slug catchers without scaffolding.
  25. Access other hard-to-reach assets without scaffolding – waypoint flights can be used for general inspections of these assets, with manual flights for more detailed inspections.
  26. Transport tools quickly around job sites.
  27. Reduce inspection budgets by using less scaffolding and speeding up inspections.
  28. Reduce costs indirectly, by limiting plant downtime.
  29. Shorten turnaround time through better planning of maintenance strategies, such as using drones initially for general i
  30. Inspect steel casings for corrosion or scale buildup.
  31. Detect brittleness or cracking in fibreglass casings.
  32. Monitor fireproofing on pressure equipment, piping, and storage tanks.
  33. Use thermal imaging to detect leaks in high-rise installations.
  34. Inspect cooling tower casings for leaks, holes, and general deterioration.
  35. Shorten inspection time by simplifying safety precautions when all workers are on the ground.
  36. Establish a live link with the chief inspector during chimney inspections.
  37. Closely inspect welded joints on steel towers for signs of corrosion, using cameras with powerful zoom capabilities.
  38. Spot check for leaks and for tightness of bolted joints.
  39. Look for signs of wood deterioration, including cracks, fractures, or decay in wood membe
  40. Identify evidence of tearing or cracking in structures.
  41. Look for evidence of corrosion of steel stairways and check the welds on ladders.
  42. Check for excessive buildup of sludge and accumulated debris in cold water basins.
  43. Inspect iron pipes for corrosion and loss of coating material, examine all supports to insure their integrity and check for signs of deterioration on PVC or fibreglass pipes.
  44. Prolong the lifetime of assets by undertaking risk-based inspections (RBI) repeatedly and monitoring degeneration.
  45. Record inspection flightpaths and repeat the same inspection over time.
  46. Compare thermal imagery with high definition visual data.
  47. Explore the possibilities for innovation managers with AI.
  48. Motivate inhouse inspectors to learn these new skills and take their inspections to the next level.
  49. Promote the plant as innovative and safety driven: drones make useful marketing material.
  50. Use innovative technologies such as these to attract millennials to the business.

Drone operators must be carefully chosen, as drone operations and drone inspections require technical knowledge, operational experience, appropriate certification and tactical communication with aviation departments.

Applus+ RVIS provides remote visual inspection services for quality assurance and asset integrity management. It combines inspection expertise with remote technology, artificial intelligence and multiple sensors to make inspections safer. Applus+ RVIS tailors remote visual solutions according to client assets and inspection needs, targeting cost-effective remote visual inspection solutions that allow maximum safety and minimum downtime.

Find more information about Applus+ RVIS drone services.

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