First Drone Inspection in Gulf of Mexico


Published Jan 22, 2016 4:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

Drone services company Sky-Futures has completed the first oil and gas inspection by a drone in the Gulf of Mexico for the oil and gas industry. 

The inspection scope included the derrick, helideck and four cranes on a drill ship and was completed in two days last week. Current inspection methods would have taken 17 days to inspect the same scope of work, says Sky-Futures. 

Sky-Futures says inspections completed by drone are safer, faster and more cost efficient than other inspection techniques used at onshore and offshore installations, including rope access and helicopter fly-bys. Inspections prevent personnel being put at risk and allow savings to be made by preventing unnecessary shutdowns. Inspections completed offshore for other clients by Sky-Futures have saved over $4 million in operational efficiencies and avoiding unscheduled shutdowns.

Offshore, Sky-Futures provided a crew consisting of an inspection engineer and remote pilot. Both had completed oil and gas drone inspection training at Sky-Futures specialist training center in the U.K.

The inspection comes just over 10 months after Sky-Futures received the 46th Section 333 Federal Aviation Authority Exemption Certificate to operate drones in the U.S. and had opened their first North America office in Houston. 

Global spending on drones could add up to close to $100 billion over the next decade, with commercial uses - from farming and filming to pipelines and parcels - accounting for around an eighth of that market, according to BI Intelligence.