Oil & Gas

How DroneDeploy Keeps Upstream Oil & Gas Workers Safe

September 23, 2020

In our most recent blog series, we discussed how DroneDeploy powers asset management for a range of Oil & Gas companies. In this new three-part series, we'll demonstrate how DroneDeploy can help upstream, midstream, and downstream companies keep their workers safe.

Upstream Oil & Gas companies harbor some of the most dangerous conditions - not just in this industry, but in any industry.

Whether it be offshore platforms or pump jacks, these hazards can seem endless for upstream workers – and the statistics bear this out. Between 2008 and 2017, 1,566 oil & gas workers died in unforeseen accidents. While oil has boomed in recent decades, causing increased demand for upstream companies, it’s also increased safety hazards. As regulations scale back and accidents rise, companies need to take advantage of technological advances proven to make work sites safer. Drone software can be a vital tool to keep workers safe and reduce costs associated with accidents and safety violations.

An offshore oil rig.

DroneDeploy Reduces Direct Risk to Workers and Costs to Companies

We all know the dangers of upstream facilities, from the maze of ladders, catwalks, and scaffolding to the potential for explosion and exposure to harmful inhalants to the danger of counterweights on pump jacks. Since the oil & gas industry employs more than 10.3 million people, it's imperative that these workers be kept safe.

Less visible than these physical hazards is the financial cost and risks of unsafe environments. One study found that the average accident cost upstream companies north of $65 million. Some of the most well-known accidents have cost upstream oil & gas companies dearly: the collapse of the Norweigan platform Sleipner A in 1991 cost roughly $720 million. In 2009, a tanker colliding with Ekofisk, also off the Norwegian coast, cost ConocoPhillips more than $750 million. In 2020, OSHA imposed $13,494 per incident for the more standard, run-of-the-mill violations. Willful or repeated violations cost $134,937, and that's before any individual state fines.

Thankfully, DroneDeploy can help companies mitigate risk, keep employees out of harm's way, and significantly (if not altogether) limit exposure to hazards.

DroneDeploy's Thermal Live Map.

DroneDeploy Enables Companies to Conduct More Inspections, Detect Damage In Real-Time

Preventative steps remain the most effective way to keep workers safe and help companies stay compliant. Similar to healthcare, where preventing a disease is much easier than treating it after – the same goes for accidents at upstream facilities.

Consistent inspections are key to preventing accidents. In the past, however, aerial inspections could only be conducted sparingly due to the high cost of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Drones can be regularly dispatched and conduct repeatable inspections. These constant inspections and monitoring can help ensure that a rig's structural integrity is intact, that problem areas are addressed, and that workers are kept out of hazardous conditions.

Instead of being reactive to problem areas, DroneDeploy allows users to manage them proactively. DroneDeploy empowers upstream companies to quickly and easily leverage drones to examine difficult-to-access and dangerous areas. DroneDeploy's thermal mapping capabilities can identify hot spots or regions of concern. Live Map, in real-time, can help workers inspect infrastructure that may be weakened due to exposure to natural elements and harsh conditions. With Live Stream, users can conduct a virtual site survey with their office teams.

DroneDeploy vastly reduces the number of workers needed to inspect areas or conduct dangerous work. The more everyone can keep workers on the ground and out of harm's way, the safer the operation will be.

DroneDeploy's Live Stream.

DroneDeploy Brings Together Experts and Stakeholders to Collaborate

If an accident occurs, DroneDeploy can also help upstream companies gain real-time insights into the situation at hand and react accordingly with lightning speed. DroneDeploy’s Live Stream does just that, providing an unparalleled view into unfolding situations. This works by displaying a secure, real-time video stream from a drone's eye view to team members, decision-makers, and emergency response teams on the ground. This relays vital information to decision-makers and experts without putting them in harm’s way.

Live Stream is also incredibly helpful in emergencies, as offshore platforms and pump jacks are often hundreds of miles from help. This feature lets emergency teams know how to best address the situation while providing improved communication and context for off-site engineers, first-response teams, executives, and command and control centers.

Preventative measures and real-time reaction empowered by DroneDeploy means your operation is safer and smarter than ever. And it will only get better: the potential for drones is endless when it comes to keeping upstream workers safe. Soon, advances will empower drones to gain insights in confined spaces, keeping workers out of further dangers inside tanks, tunnels, pipelines, and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about drone technology use in the oil & gas industry, read our article on how to perform site inspections within the energy sector, or download our eBook on getting started with drones in oil & gas.

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