From the Sky to the Ground: Drones Help Detect Underground Pipeline Leaks with Precision

Pipeline leaks pose serious problems for the oil and gas industry, impacting both the environment and the general public. Finding leaks would prevent many of these issues—but conventional inspection techniques cost significant time and money and come with their own risks. Now, however, there’s a new technology designed to detect pipeline leaks and resolve these challenges: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Undetected pipeline leaks have caused numerous accidents. For instance, the large Keystone Pipeline System suffered more than 20 accidents in the last decade, spilling over a million gallons of oil. A different pipeline failure claimed eight lives and injured dozens more. These spills often occur near population centers and drinking water sources, threatening people’s health. Some even result in explosions and fires, which kill people and destroy property.

There have been hundreds of documented incidents surrounding pipelines in recent years. Pipes simply aren’t built to withstand all the possible conditions they’ll face, so it’s imperative to identify leaks. Innovative inspection tools address this issue by spotting pipeline leaks early.

Advanced aerial technology offers a drastically faster way to detect pipeline leaks. UAVs deliver a higher level of insight at a lower cost and enable data-driven decisions. As a result, field operations become safer and more efficient.

Technology and Safer Field Inspections

Over the years, the technology to conduct pipeline inspections has evolved to more capable devices. Each generation brings faster and more affordable methods to track pipelines. However, some of these devices still have drawbacks, such as limited speed or resolution, motivating the development of new solutions.

Monitoring tools include infrared cameras, various pipeline inspection gauges (PIGs) that work in-line, and drones that fly overhead. Other tools like climbers and robots help access otherwise restricted areas for maintenance.

Companies use a range of these tools to map, measure, and inspect pipelines. But technologies that work remotely, such as UAVs, offer the safest approach to detecting leaks. They also save a lot of time—it’s far quicker to fly a UAV over hundreds of miles of pipeline than to inspect it in person.

Safety is of the utmost importance, and advanced pipeline inspection technology improves safety in several respects. For instance, it keeps staff at a safe distance during field inspections. Plus, the technology’s superior efficiency means fewer pipeline leaks and faster responses.

Source: Shutterstock

Detect Pipeline Leaks with Precision Using Drones

Unmanned aerial vehicles or drones deliver the best available inspection capacity to detect pipeline leaks. Their overhead imaging reveals key signals of underground leaks such as dead vegetation nearby or pooling liquid. UAVs also cost far less and offer better imaging than manned aerial vehicles.

What’s more, the speed of UAVs far outperforms any ground-based technique, letting you cover more pipeline in less time. In fact, the best aerial technology can accomplish several weeks’ worth of data-rich surveys in just a few hours.

Aerial vehicles travel faster and farther, covering hazardous or off-limits areas easily. Where a ground vehicle may encounter an impassable crevice or private property, the drone simply flies overhead, recording data uninterrupted. Plus, because the drone is unmanned, your workers aren’t exposed to danger or an injury risk. It’s also a lot less expensive to send a drone instead of a team of employees.

Need another advantage? Drones produce extremely consistent footage of the pipelines, so you can compare small changes over time. Even subtle differences that manual techniques might miss could indicate the start of a leak.

How Can SkyX Help?

SkyX offers a unique Drones-as-a-Service model. Its unrivaled UAVs fly over vast areas collecting data. Then, the application processes the data to detect pipeline leaks. The entire system functions fast and affordably, with SkyX handling all the technicalities so you can focus on business.

The SkyX drones can scale up or down to meet your needs, and you specify where they fly. The sophisticated technology then automatically studies the pipelines, even conducting multiple flyovers from consistent angles to track changes. This gives you systematic visibility over infrastructure.

Beyond the critical task of detecting underground leaks, SkyX Drones-as-a-Service has several other useful applications:

  • Pick out external disruptions such as illicit tapping. UAVs track your pipelines and right-of-way to protect against threats.
  • Get rapid actionable alerts and geotagged images. It integrates with your supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) or fiber optic systems to receive alert locations. It also sends data to ArcGIS for risk analysis.
  • The aerial data uncover corrosion signs such as rust and pits. It also provides high-resolution imagery and flags areas of concern, streamlining your ability to monitor and manage pipelines.

All in all, working with SkyX will give you cutting-edge equipment and data to find and prevent pipeline leaks. This innovative solution transforms oil and gas organizations into a proactive safety culture. Bottom line? You save time and money while improving the protection of the environment and human health.

Source: Shutterstock

Detect Pipeline Leaks Efficiently with SkyX

Pipeline leaks represent one of the greatest risks for oil and gas companies. When unnoticed, they damage the environment, wildlife, and human well-being.

Finding these leaks takes a lot of time and effort, but SkyX Drones-as-a-Service revolutionizes pipeline monitoring. You can now detect pipeline leaks at a fraction of the cost. And with faster inspections, you’ll cut the time it takes to repair problems.

SkyX provides a comprehensive service that captures and processes aerial data for you, putting the full advantages of UAVs in your hands. Book a demo today to experience the future of pipeline inspection.

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