Oil & Gas

How DroneDeploy Powers Asset Management for Downstream Oil & Gas Companies

September 2, 2020

In this three-part blog series, we'll take a look at how drone software can support asset management for upstream, midstream, and downstream Oil & Gas companies.

Downstream companies take the final step of delivering gas or oil to the end consumer. These vital companies refine crude oil so it can be used as gasoline, jet fuel, heating oil, asphalt, lubricants, diesel fuel, and more, and supply and deliver these products to retailers worldwide.  

While upstream companies use drone technology to navigate complex offshore oil rigs, and midstream players utilize it to keep an eye on thousands of miles of pipeline, there are also plenty of uses for drone software to help downstream companies. Let's dive in.

DroneDeploy's Thermal Live Map inspections.
DroneDeploy's Thermal Live Map enables precise insights into flare stacks, pipes, and cooling towers.


Just like upstream companies, downstream operations have many complex facilities and assets that need constant monitoring. Drone imagery empowers companies to get "eyes on" areas that are generally dangerous and time-consuming to access via scaffolding, cranes, rope access, or helicopter - the previous methods used before drones became widespread. Drone technology enables inspectors to keep away from dangerous hazards, such as being airborne, elevated, or working in close proximity of combustible chemicals.

DroneDeploy, through its thermal mapping and Live Map solutions, empowers downstream companies to get precise insights into their live flare stacks, storage facilities, pipes, roofs, cooling towers, and more. DroneDeploy helps workers assess steam systems, identify structural issues, or damage from environmental conditions. High-resolution images and thermal insights can help you determine which assets may have developing problem areas and empower you to be proactive about addressing trouble spots before they get worse.

Having more insightful inspections enables downstream companies to prevent plant shutdowns, cut down maintenance time, and perform inspections without stopping operations (more to come on this last point).

An oil refinery in Austria.
Oil refineries use drones to ensure site safety and security.

Safety & Compliance

Drones and drone software can be particularly useful for downstream companies when it comes to safety and compliance. As refineries may be near populous areas, many downstream companies leverage drones to ensure physical site security and perimeter.

DroneDeploy's Thermal Live Map and Plant Health Live Map can provide unprecedented safety and reduced risk: this solution allows downstream companies to detect temperature range variability for a selected area. For organizations with numerous facilities to inspect, this makes it easy to identify hot spots, leaks, and blockages on-site. Gone unchecked, these issues could lead to equipment damage, lost product, large-scale environmental damage, and threats to on-the-ground workers.

Downstream companies also leverage drone software to ensure their sites are up to code with local, state, and federal regulations. In the past, state and federal inspectors would have to visit refineries and sites to ensure that downstream companies operated according to code. DroneDeploy provides companies with high-quality images formatted in a clean report to showcase conditions on the ground.

DroneDeploy's Live Stream capabilities.
DroneDeploy's Live Stream allows remote teams to stay involved on-site.

Efficiency and Profitability

Drone data helps create a safe and efficient work site, saving downstream companies a great deal of money. With inspections, for example, leveraging helicopters or rope access technicians can be quite an expensive bill, because to keep workers safe, you often have to shut down operations entirely. Drone data enables proactive inspections, allowing operations to continue – inspections resulting in a fraction of the cost.

But that efficiency also comes in the form of collaboration. By using DroneDeploy, downstream oil & gas companies can quickly make real-time decisions on their work sites by collaborating on maps and models to do remote inspections. Companies no longer need to fly out teams of people to remote areas to inspect a facility or shut down production completely; now, you can catch issues early and proactively fix issues through drone data. That means fewer regulatory issues and fines.

Furthermore, DroneDeploy Live Stream also empowers you to bring your team remotely to the site. Now, engineers, executives, and other stakeholders can get a 360-degree view into your facility, assets, and equipment – right from their home or office. All of this saved time and streamlined operations adds up to greater profits and a better bottom line.

Clearly, there are countless reasons why some of the most established downstream companies trust DroneDeploy to make their operations safer, more profitable, and more efficient. If you're interested in learning more about how DroneDeploy can help your business, read some of our customer success stories, or watch our webinar on oil and gas inspections.

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