In this second entry in a three-part blog series, we'll take a look at how drone software can support asset management for midstream Oil & Gas companies. Check out our previous post on upstream, and stay tuned for the third, and final, post on downstream companies.
Midstream Oil & Gas companies serve as the vital link between oil production and consumer demand: these companies bridge the gap from an off-shore oil platform and wellheads to the gas that ends up in your car tank.
Midstream companies conduct the processing, transportation, and storage of crude oil and natural gas. But the assets needed to build this metaphorical bridge is vast: miles of pipeline, fleets of trucks, tanker ships, rail cars, tank farms, and more. Unlike upstream and downstream companies, midstream players transport oil & gas across vast territories, over public and private land, and in close vicinity of the general public, whether on the road, rails, or ocean. All of these assets must be operating at peak performance to ensure compliance and ensure the safety of the general public and the surrounding natural environment.
Fortunately, drone software for oil & gas companies can serve companies as a vital linchpin to ensure compliance, improve collaboration, optimize supply chains, and provide a 360-degree view into all your different assets. Midstream companies or operations can rest easy knowing that DroneDeploy can support them at every stage of their operation.
Planning & Construction
DroneDeploy can help midstream companies looking to build new tank farms, marine storage terminals, or pipelines. DroneDeploy's solution helps companies gain insights into potential sites, document existing sites, assess new or acquired sites, monitor construction progress, and create high-resolution maps and models.
Workers can leverage DroneDeploy's cloud-based solution to annotate and comment directly into 2D maps and 3D models. That way, construction teams can collaborate and communicate effectively while identifying real-time issues without actually having to be on the job site – which drives down costs and improves safety. Meanwhile, key executives and stakeholders can stay updated on the site's status and progress through high-resolution images uploaded seamlessly into the cloud.
All of this ensures midstream companies are building in the safest and most efficient areas, their projects are on budget and on time, and workers are mitigating risk.
Reducing Risks and Expenses
There are more than 190,000 miles of oil pipeline in the United States alone. To put it another way, that's enough pipeline to go around the world more than seven times. This spider web of pipelines creates a massive and constant threat for leaks and spills to midstream operations. And leaks can be expensive: they can cost millions of dollars to clean up and force companies to pay state and federal government fines.
These pipelines often traverse rugged territory in remote places – they're tough to inspect and access. And given the exposure to the natural elements, corrosion, wear-and-tear, and vegetation encroachment on midstream assets can matriculate quickly. DroneDeploy empowers midstream workers to take a proactive approach to potential problem spots and address issues in real-time, without having to dispatch a team to the field.
DroneDeploy provides an invaluable set of eyes that can monitor plant health and identify early leaks before they worsen. Trinity Services and Consulting, which frequently works with midstream companies to monitor pipelines, saved 90% in cleanup costs thanks to DroneDeploy, which helped monitor more than 180 miles of pipeline in Oklahoma.
The number of regulations in midstream – generally governed by the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as individual states – is as complex and winding as the pipelines and transportation they oversee. And these regulations have only increased in the past decade.
Non-compliance penalties can be expensive, with the average costing northwards of $218,000 in 2019. One New Mexico midstream company was fined $5.3 million in July 2020 for repeated violations of state air pollution regulations. Spills and accidents, meanwhile, can also erode public trust and opinion toward midstream companies.
Therefore, companies must take every step to provide clarity into their operations and provide clear documentation of their sites. With drone data, companies can now regularly share photos, videos, maps, and reports with agencies to build trust and create transparency between companies and agencies. If there is litigation, DroneDeploy documentation can help companies protect against penalties by providing a comprehensive, single source of historical truth – which outlines conditions on sites and across pipelines regularly.
Midstream companies generally use drones and drone software to replace helicopters, airplanes, and scaffolding, while limiting staffed survey teams to inspect pipelines, document construction sites, and provide aerial maps and photos for compliance documentation. Drones empower companies at every stage to get deeper insights, optimize operations, and keep workers and assets safe. All of these efforts help maximize profits while mitigating risks – and given the current economic climate, that's never been more critical.