Drones on the Permian Basin: Transforming Oil & Gas Operations

Last fall, we demonstrated how drones are improving safety and efficiency for workers on the Permian Basin, as part of a short documentary series by Hart Energy. You can watch the documentary here. The below piece was originally published on HartEnergy.com.

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Safety and efficiency are vital to business in the oil & gas industry. Today’s modern infrastructure requires active management, which businesses typically carry out by flying manned aircraft and sending roustabouts to remote areas to manually inspect assets. However, these approaches are not only costly and time-intensive but risky, exposing workers to machine hazards and businesses to data loss. Because of this, operations leaders are adopting digital technology to reduce the need for manual inspections. Enter: drones.


Collecting precise, actionable data

Drones are transforming the way oil & gas companies are conducting their inspection operations. They eliminate the need for on-site visits, provide real-time aerial information of leaks and spills, and flag potential hazards that the human eye cannot detect. You can even pre-program drones to run the same flight path at different points in time, enabling the collection of precisely correlated time-series data.

After collecting this inspection data, technicians need a system for navigating, annotating, and organizing it. One that standardizes how their organization views its assets. That’s where PrecisionAnalytics, our cloud-based system, comes in. After machine intelligence identifies imagery that represents priority issues, it aggregates the data into an intuitive, web-based interface that’s accessible from anywhere. To automate field operations, aerial data can be integrated with enterprise resource planning (ERP) or work-order management systems to enable seamless field maintenance operations.

“Drone technology represents a vast opportunity to collect data that we never could before,” said Josh Hoyt, Principal of Capgemini. “When you structure data—like what PrecisionHawk can do with their drones—you’re able to get a precise figure. What you’re able to do with field service technology is define thresholds which may require action and alerts. After defining these thresholds, the technology can automate work orders that are sent to the right people at the right time.”

Take, for example, an instance in which we fly a drone above over a compressor, and it spots a methane gas leak that may not be able to be detected by a human. The integrated ERP can notify those that are properly equipped in the area to take care of the issue and, in addition to routing the work order, it can tell them where the problem is located, when the problem was detected, and which tools they need to bring to the site to resolve the issue.

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New levels of efficiency

As we’ve seen with traditional ways of executing field service management, there are inherent problems. Where does the data go? Is it connected to anything? Which assets are being monitored? Who’s responsible for executing maintenance when necessary? And of course, there’s always the risk of errors.

With drone technology, we’re able to answer all these questions as efficiently as possible, allowing businesses to reallocate time spent on routine inspections to higher-value-added inspections and maintenance. Ultimately, an inspection data value chain—strengthened by drones—frees up technicians to focus on increasing uptime and driving revenue.

“With drone technology, we’re achieving new levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and safety,” said Matt Tompkins, Director of Flight Operations at PrecisionHawk. “In doing so, we’re creating a huge amount of value to our clients.”

Case study: a drone-based solution on the Permian Basin

Several of the world’s largest oil & gas producers are adopting drone-based aerial data collection as part of their field operations, partnering with PrecisionHawk to pilot the use of the technology. One such example can be found in the Permian Basin, as featured in this video.

Partner with PrecisionHawk

At PrecisionHawk, we have the expertise needed to deploy an effective drone-based solution. Our career pilots, engineers, and surveyors maintain our portfolio of cutting-edge drones, sensors, and ground-based equipment. And PrecisionHawk’s industry-leading team of PhD-holding and remote sensing-accredited geospatial scientists ensure the quality and accuracy of our systems.

“From flights and analysis to reporting and integration, we’re providing a comprehensive drone-based solution that strengthens asset management and redefines the limits of business intelligence,” said Nehemiah Katz, VP of oil & gas at PrecisionHawk.

Improve the safety and efficiency of your asset and right-of-way inspections. Speak with an oil & gas expert today.