Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is currently the disruptive technology pervading the global energy industry, these disruptive technological advances in drilling and fracturing have reshaped the oil and gas supply-and-demand balance with worldwide implications.
Little concern is given to the technological mega-trends happening within the industry- the use of drones in oil and gas operations.
Few trends have been bigger or more exciting to watch in the last decade than the rise of drones, Drones appear to be the megatrend in the oil and gas industry and it is happening now.
From serious applications like warfare to more quirky ones like pizza delivery, the world is still clearly just starting to figure out how drones can be appropriately commercialized. This background makes the opportunity for drone use in commercial oil and gas applications a very interesting trend to watch, we have decided to lay bare attendant implications for its sustainable application in the oil and gas industry.
When the word drone is mentioned, it portrays a negative connotation and impression of an unmanned aircrafts going on military assignments, hence a needed industry-standard nomenclature that sounds friendly should be introduced as the world is encouraging interactions for a sustainable and safe world, nomenclatures now in use includes UAS or unmanned aircraft system for commercially available drones, oil and gas experts suggest tweaking the name a little, suggestions includes, Remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS), remotely piloted vehicles (RPV) and to really make it sound friendly, small-sized, and harmless, small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS).
There currently appears to be increased use of drone in the energy sector both in the U.S. and abroad . The Federal Aviation Administration or FAA, the regulatory agency governing U.S. airspace, appears willing to allow drones to be used in the energy sector, likely in part because energy applications tend to be in low population density areas, which makes public safety less of an issue.
The first good news came june 10th 2014 when the FAA granted approval to BP and the drone manufacturer Aerovironment to fly an Aerovironment Puma AE for area surveys in Prodhoe Bay oil field in Alaska, they became the first granted approval to use commercial drones.
Since this first approval the use of drones and its attendant advantages is becoming very interesting. Of utmost importance is use of drones where sending humans is expensive risky or impossible, sending an unmanned aircraft to inspect a burning building before sending the firefighting team (also peoples family members) is simply plain smart, allow the robotic flying craft do the work that was once done by individuals we usually put in harms way.
Small unmanned aircrafts systems now have huge applications in the oil and gas and related industries, from inspection flare tips and flare structures, stack/chimney inspections, site surveys for seismic operations, base-line and follow-up, environmental surveys for well sites in ecologically sensitive areas. They can be deplored to carry out thermographic inspections on facilities to provide a preliminary work-list, sending drones on aerial surveys where use of IR imaging capabilities enable detection of leaks that could otherwise not be visible, inspection of chemical spill to monitor gas levels before sending a cleanup team is the safest course of action.
The Unmanned aircraft system UAS offer the oil and gas industry new capabilities that reduce costs and operational risks while simultaneously improving efficiency, these crafts can be used to measure and quantify oil spills, determine how the oil is moving in water and provide information and imagery to the command center, this very important information can increase the situational awareness of the first responders to the incidence increasing safety and the ability to make better decisions in the processes of cleanup.
The use of UAS is increasing by the day, however concerns on safety is proportionally on the increase when it concerns application in the Oilfield offshore. Oil and gas professionals are asking how close to a rig or other assets can these flying objects get because they is not Class 1 certified and could be a source of a fire trigger.
Investors looking to take advantage of what will likely be a secular trend towards greater drone use in energy over the next ten years have a number of options. Large companies like Google, Boeing, and Northrup Grumman, all have significant drone businesses. Each of these firms will benefit as drones become more widely used not just in the energy sector, but across the entire global economy. Unfortunately, all of these firms are very sizeable already, so the emergence of new drone applications is unlikely to lead to a dramatic change in revenues or profits.
However, there are a couple of smaller firms that carry reasonable valuations and still stand to benefit significantly from the drone revolution. For these companies, greater acceptance of drone use could be a major stock price catalyst, they include Aerovironment trading under the ticker symbol AVAV, and drones part manufacturer IXYS trading under the ticker symbol IXYS, they supply power controllers and power chipsets for drones wearable technology and robots.
These companies carry a reasonable valuation small liabilities and have plenty of cash, they also pay reasonable dividends.
We hope that FAA will loosen rules considerably and there will be lots of opportunities to use drones in the oil and gas operations and other industry, it is marked as one that will disrupt most industries and how things have always being.