Drone is in the air

 By Peter Ward

The Europe Oil & Gas Drones Market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 25.2% during the forecast period from 2014 to 2020, according to a Research and Markets report. Peter Ward explains how drones are used in this sector and how they are improving the collection of data, weather predictions and safety…

Drone technology has been used as a solution to numerous problems in recent years, such as package delivery, wildlife protection and search and rescue. The technology’s application also expands to the oil and gas industry, where drones are already being used regularly.

In fact, drone use in the oil and gas industry is on the rise. The European oil and gas drones market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.2% between 2014 and 2020, according to a recent Research and Markets report. The oil and gas sector currently utilizes drones in multiple ways, including maintenance inspections, assessing spill damage and patrolling pipelines.

One company focusing on the maintenance aspect of drone use is Sky-Futures. The startup offers drones and a software platform to gather data on oil rigs and gas pipelines, including high definition video and images. The collected data is then used to forecast problems before they happen. Oil rig inspection can be a particularly labor intensive and potentially dangerous procedure, with workers dangling from wires in order to access the more difficult areas of the rig. Drones, piloted by engineers, can reach those areas and make the search for erosion and other problems a lot easier.

Source: Business Insider

“Any technology that has the ability to do eight weeks’ worth of work on a rig in five days and at a fraction of the price is a technology you want to be taking notice of,” wrote Adrian Karl, CTO of Sky-Futures, in a blog post last year. “Any technology that can enable you to save £3 million [$4.3 million] in shutdown costs is technology you want to be taking notice of. Any emerging technology that can help improve the commercial viability of an offshore rig is technology you want to be taking notice of.”

Sky-Futures recently raised $5.7 million in investment, to add to the $3.8 million it secured in May, highlighting the potential seen in the oil and gas drone market.

The challenge for drone companies has been getting past the regulation of aviation authorities. At the start of 2015, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration relaxed its rules on drones flying within U.S. airspace, giving a boost to oil and gas companies looking to use the technology in the world’s largest offshore market. As regulations ease, the cost of drones decreases, and technological capabilities increase, the number of drones found on oil rigs, gas pipelines and other installations is only going to rise.


SEE MORE: Big data, Big advantages by Peter Ward


about the author
Peter Ward
Business and technology reporter based in New York. MA in Business Journalism at Columbia University Journalism School 2013. Five years experience reporting in the U.S., the U.K., and the Middle East.