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Drones enter the oil industry

Staff writer |
Repsol has completed its first trial with an unmanned aircraft during the inspection of one of the flares at its Sines complex in Portugal, to obtain high-resolution images and evaluate the state of structures that measure more than 100 metres in height.

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Following promising results, the experimental flights will be extended over the coming months to the Cartagena and Puertollano complexes. The energy company is analysing how the use of drones could avoid risks to workers and save costs during the planning of maintenance shutdowns at its industrial plants.

The Repsol Information Technology Team is also researching future applications for the drones in a wide range of fields, from the inspection of oil platforms at sea to usage to deliver packages between remote installations, or as repeaters to transmit data during exploration campaigns.

Viewed as one of the most promising technologies over the coming years, the use of drones will become widespread among Oil & Gas companies. The rapid development of these airborne robots and reduced costs will make it easier to map potential fields, detect leaks and oversee infrastructure.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, can be equipped with gas sensors, thermal imaging cameras or HD video equipment, and can automatically process information, recognising patterns and unforeseen incidents.

Integration with other technological developments such as Big Data and Geo-referenced Information Systems (GIS) will serve to improve geological studies of the subsoil and the monitoring of incidents.

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