How Inspection Drones check Oil Pipelines

How Inspection Drones check Oil Pipelines

How Inspection Drones check Oil Pipelines

Background

Oil pipelines act as a means of transportation of oil and gas from one place to another (for example from one country to another) The main pipes that are used in the offshore Oil and Gas Industry are Duplex 2205 (22% Chromium, 5% Nickel) and 2507 (25% Chromium, 7% Nickel); and Super Duplex 2507. Duplex steel has the strength to resist pressure at extreme depths.

oil pipelines

oil pipelines

However, pipelines may have a malfunction from time to time which can cause oil leaking. That’s why it is necessary for the gas and oil companies to watch over its pipelines to ensure their safe and economical work. All possible malfunctions may cause economic and environmental damage, on top of that, it could also tarnish the company’s image. That’s why companies and enterprises invest a considerable amount of money and time into inspecting its pipelines. However, it is easier said than done because the monitoring of the huge pipelines’ networks spreading throughout thousands of kilometers is defiantly not an easy task. 

Dangers of Oil Spills

Crude oil is essentially a mixture of many different hydrocarbons such as Methane, Ethane, Propane, and Decane. Crude oil is dangerous because it typically contains more than 1000 chemicals. A great majority of these chemicals are hazardous to humans. An oil spill can have a major impact on the economy in coastal areas. The fishing industry, for example, can be heavily affected by an oil spill this means that valuable fishing areas will be closed down for any period of time if an oil spill occurs. Oil spills put animals and humans at risk. A person’s health can be seriously affected when breathing oil products. Consuming a fish that is contaminated with oil can pose a serious negative effect on the human health. These facts about the dangers of oil spill lead us to the next question which is “what is the best way to fix an oil spill?”. The best way to fix an oil spill is actually to prevent it from happening in the first place.

oil spills

oil spills

Current technology for inspecting oil and gas pipelines

Traditionally, companies and enterprises use planes and helicopter to inspect pipelines, Aerial monitoring companies, such as Synodon Inc. and Immersive Video Solutions LLC (IVS), use helicopters rigged with sensors and cameras to survey oil and gas pipelines. These companies report information regarding pipeline leaks and possible external threats, as well as providing updated mapping and other visual data.

helicopter

helicopter

However this solution can be extremely expensive, that’s way using drones is a better and a more effective solution for both small and huge companies. 

drone

drone

How Do Drones Work? 

Drones are a great example of mechatronics in practice. They have many interconnected mechanical and electronic systems that depend on multiple disciplines to properly function. A typical aircraft is made of light composite materials to reduce weight and increase maneuverability. This composite material strength allows drones to cruise at extremely high altitudes. Drones are equipped with different state of the electronic art technology such as infra-red cameras (UAV) and (GPS). Drones are controlled by remote control electronic systems and are also sometimes referred to as a ground cockpit. Drones use a thermal camera and Ultra HD 4K to detect leaks or any other malfunction in the inspected area.

Different kinds of drones

Drones are regarded as mechatronic systems and they can be categorized based on different standards such as their range and equipment.

propellers

There also other types of drones such as the RTF Drones:

RTF drones are Ready-to-Fly drones. They can be used right after you buy them, they do not require any kind of editing or assembly, they are perfect for people that are new to the drone world.

RTF Drone

RTF Drone

HELICOPTER Drones

A helicopter drone uses a single rotor similar to a typical helicopter. The drone itself is like a remote-control helicopter. It’s ideal use to keep it still in the air for an extended period of time.

Helicopter Drone

Helicopter Drone

Drone’s use advantages

Drones are highly praised and are being used in different fields and domains, this rapid increase in the use of these flying devices is for its important and various advantages:

  • Drone inspection is cheaper than using a helicopter while having the same image quality.
  • The drone’s mobility and its ability to rapidly analyze data reduce the time of detection to a minimum, Time is a valuable thing in the business world which makes drones even more effective.
  • As we all know, drones are cheaper than helicopters or planes and that’s why using drones is a great solution for pipeline’s inspection.
  • Drones are equipped with high-quality imaging cameras and this makes them able to detect even the slightest leakages.

Drone’s use disadvantages

Drones may be highly effective and can be used in various domains; however, this does not make them immune from having drawbacks and challenges such as:

  • Drones have a Short flying time due to the low battery durability which requires them to come back to the starting point every 30 minutes.
  • Being relatively low weight and having a considerable amount of electronic and mechanical components, drones cannot fly in windy or rainy weathers
  • Governments may sometimes restrict the use of drones when there is an ongoing military operation.
  • Drones are not allowed and blocked from entering a restricted zone such as military facilities

Outlook

The enterprise drone market is without a doubt growing bigger everyday BI Intelligence expects sales of drones to surpass $12 billion in 2021. This means that in the future companies will start using drones in different fields and domains

estimated consumer drone shipments

estimated consumer drone shipments

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