Nicholas Newman Pipeline and Gas Journal December 2016
The days of conducting an aerial inspection on a pipeline right-of-way, either by helicopter or a fixed wing plane, are coming to an end as pipeline operators around the world are increasingly using drones to monitor, diagnose, maintenance and provide security for networks and installations.
One of the main selling points of drones is they are considerably cheaper and, as sensor technology improves, their ability to detect potential faults and threats to infrastructure and personnel is becoming recognized.
The world market for civilian-operated commercial drones in 2015 was estimated at $500 million and could reach $3 billion by 2020, reports Business Insider. Energy companies, as well as oil, gas and petroleum products pipeline operators, are likely to become significant users and owners of drones for monitoring purposes. North America alone has about 305,000 miles of interstate and intrastate transmission pipelines and associated infrastructure that need regular monitoring, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Read more