In a world first, advanced light radar (Lidar) scanning has been used to map an offshore rig in the North Sea. Drone operator, Texo Drone Survey, claims this to be the most accurate scan of an offshore rig ever performed, opening up new possibilities for both operators and those in the oil and gas industry.
Texo Drone Survey used their large T28 UAV platform, along with recently developed Lidar technology, to perform a full scan of the Paragon HZ1 rig in the North Sea. Lidar is a type of radar that uses light pulses to map objects in three dimensions. The development of this technology and its application on a drone platform, could reduce the manpower required to scan offshore rigs in the future, increasing both efficiency and worker safety.
Texo Drone Survey was demonstrating their drone and the Lidar technology at the recent SPE Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Huge Amounts of Data Collected with Just a Single Human Operator
The scan was completed in a human controlled flight that took just 32 minutes to complete. The laser array used to scan the rig, is able to map as many as one million points every second, which results in around 15GB of data from a 32-minute flight. This allowed technicians to recreate a complete three dimensional model of the rig, which is accurate down to the smallest details. Minute details can be captured right down to be within 2mm of real world accuracy.
Being able to scan the entire platform via drone, with just a single operator, means that scanning via a separate vessel will not be necessary in the near future.
Scanning of rigs is critical when modifying, performing inspections, or during decommissioning. Rig operators and other crews will be able to access accurate computer data with full 3D maps. New scans can be compared to older scans to track changes, structural failures, or any changes in the physical properties of the rig.
This Demonstration Only Touches on the Potential of Drone Technology in the Offshore Oil and Gas Sector
Texo Drone Survey aren’t limiting their technology to Lidar scans. In the future the company hopes to produce drones which can incorporate winches for light lifting, grab arms, or even painting and other lightweight maintenance tools. Again, these scenarios would represent a significant increase in efficiency, while improving safety by reducing the need for human workers in potentially dangerous scenarios. David Williams from Texo Drone Survey has been demonstrating the company’s latest achievement, and is excited about what it means for the future. He told the media that “It is a hazardous environment [offshore operations], people can die. You are not getting the same risk when you put a UAV in there.”
Texo will continue developing their platform, and they’re not the only company to be working on drone technology to be used in offshore oil and gas. The University of Strathclyde is currently developing photogrammetry scanning, which could be used to develop 3D models with accurate physical surface representation in the near future.
META: UK Drone company performs world first when they use UAV and Lidar technology to scan and model a working rig in the North Sea.