Offshore oil & gas installations are extremely valuable assets, situated across extensive maritime areas that are difficult to guard. Attacks or damage to such installations can lead to enormous ecological damage, revenue losses and chaos on international oil markets. Improving oil and gas security security is a matter of global importance.
UAVs are today emerging as highly effective tools for confronting pipeline monitoring, and oil and gas security challenges. While others have speculated about the possible use of UAVs in offshore oil security, Aeronautics has put theory into practice, becoming a world pioneer in this field.
Oil and Gas Security – UAV Systems
For over three years, since 2003, the Company’s Aerostar Tactical UAVs have been patrolling offshore oil fields on a regular basis. Even at night, the Aerostar’s FLIR camera reveals the presence of thieves and potential kidnappers, who often try to reach the rigs using small boats. Oil leaks and slicks also show up clearly in infrared, and by detecting them early Aerostar has saved oil companies millions in fines, which are imposed automatically for such leaks.
The Aerostar’s flight profile, with its 12 hours endurance, slow loitering speed and fully programmable flight path, make it ideal for this surveillance role. Aerostar can remain in the air the whole night long and inspect each rig thoroughly. Using manned aircraft for this role is impractical, because the frequent maintenance required to support so many flight hours would be extremely costly and time consuming, and the inevitable boredom involved would raise dangers for the pilot.
Pipeline Monitoring – UAV Systems
Another critical role for the UAV is the infrared inspection of the thousands of miles of pipelines that transport oil and gas around the world. Oil and gas leaks show up well in infrared because of the temperature differences between the fluid and the soil. Undetected leaks have frequently caused disastrous fires, explosions and loss of life, as well as heavy economic losses. Again, the UAV is the best and most economical type of platform for this inspection work.