4 Benefits of Using Uncrewed Vehicles to Monitor Your Pipeline Integrity

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Midstream oil and gas companies have a range of tools available to detect threats to pipelines, but perhaps none so useful as uncrewed vehicles. Also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), these devices monitor local environments from above, flying great distances to detect pipeline problems from afar.

UAVs present a cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternative to more common pipeline monitoring solutions. These uncrewed vehicles are also safer, as they keep humans out of dangerous environments—and they provide a more accurate view than any manual surveillance process could!

Considering all these benefits, it’s no wonder UAVs are increasingly taking the industry by storm. The oil and gas industry is predicted to more than quadruple its UAV use in the period of 2022-2030, from $10.25 billion to $44.60 billion.

Let’s dive deeper into how uncrewed vehicles can benefit your oil and gas operations.

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Using Uncrewed Vehicles in Oil and Gas Operations

UAVs provide extremely detailed image data for oil and gas organizations, making them a truly feasible replacement for inspections. Rather than exposing human workers to falls and other accidents, you can deftly maneuver these devices wherever you need to observe pipelines, gas flares, or any other asset.

Uncrewed vehicles work in conjunction with SCADA and fiber optic systems. Any alert triggers rapid overhead visuals, without having to drive out to the scene unnecessarily. With high-resolution images that provide exact geographic information and timestamps, you can see any spills, equipment deterioration, or environmental degradation right from the office. Only send people out to the site when it’s truly warranted.

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4 Benefits of Using UAVs to Monitor Your Pipeline Integrity

Properly-functioning pipelines are the bedrock of the oil and gas industry; thus, it’s important to make sure they are performing in peak condition at all times. Failures endanger the profitability of pipeline owners, as well as the safety of workers and the environment. Any given leak can also harm the industry’s reputation as a whole, which makes it more difficult to continue operating.

UAVs enhance your monitoring, providing AI insights that human inspection may not catch right away. And they do so while keeping your important staff out of harm’s way! Uncrewed inspection vehicles are a much-needed safety assist all around.

Considering the vast distances UAVs can cover—automatic recharging allows the systems to fly thousands of kilometers at a time—they make for the premier UAVs for oil and gas pipeline monitoring. Careful cloud data processing then extracts maximum value from the recorded aerial imagery, detecting any pipeline problems immediately. You can also incorporate the data into your GIS application to inform your systems more broadly, and set smart notifications to keep you ahead of any future threats.

The benefits of uncrewed vehicles are numerous and varied, including increased safety, cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and versatility. Let’s explore these benefits of uncrewed vehicles to pipeline integrity in more detail.

1. Promote Health and Safety

Uncrewed vehicles keep humans safe from the risks of flying helicopters or planes, driving ground vehicles, and working on-site, all of which can cause serious injury. It’s much more secure to use remote aerial vehicles to inspect facilities and infrastructure.

UAVs also help companies cut their carbon footprints. Every time you send out trucks or aircraft full of people for manual inspection, you’re burning through environmentally-noxious fuel. Why not eliminate as many of those drives or flights as possible? Uncrewed vehicles emit far less carbon dioxide than land vehicles or manned aircraft.

2. Collect More Accurate Aerial Data

UAVs produce an unprecedented amount of quality data. Uncrewed vehicles can fly closer to pipelines than their manned counterparts, getting a finer view of any potential problems. They can also fly in more difficult climates than traditional aerial systems. Regularly programmed precise routes also assist with long-term asset tracking: you get to see the same pipelines from the same location on an angle every time.

3. Improve Operational Efficiency

Since UAVs have fewer flight requirements than manned vehicles, they’re able to fly more often and on shorter notice. You can have uncrewed vehicles in the sky within half an hour.

And since UAVs fly systematically over the same areas, as mentioned earlier, they develop a fuller picture over time—unlike manned vehicles. Whether you plan inspections daily, weekly, or on some other rhythm, you’ll know that UAVs track those routes consistently every time. This regularity provides a far more valuable sense of the pipeline network than just sending out inspectors sporadically.

4. Improve Emergency Response and Disaster Prevention

A pipeline burst risks becoming an emergency with catastrophic effects for both humans and the wider environment. There are of course financial losses as well—including hefty cleanup costs and fines. The tolls can be immense.

Nine million tons of natural gas leak each year in the US, costing companies a total of around $30 billion. The colorless and odorless methane in natural gas is highly flammable, and explosions have killed people and wreaked havoc on the natural environment.

The sooner you identify a disaster, the better armed you are to manage it effectively. Previously available tools for detecting pipeline leaks are expensive, and not always the most practical. But uncrewed vehicles can quickly scan large pipelines for even the slightest hint of a problem.

Secure Your Pipelines with SkyX’s Uncrewed Vehicles

SkyX UAVs offer a winning solution to many of the problems facing midstream oil and gas companies. They can monitor pipelines more efficiently and safely than the alternatives, with highly-accurate aerial data to improve emergency response. UAVs pose a safer, speedier solution for pipeline monitoring—and when shopping for these devices it helps to get the best in the market. Safeguard your oil and gas operations today—book a demo now to see how SkyX uncrewed vehicles can streamline your monitoring!

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