Insitu has secured a seven-figure contract with QGC Shell to leverage remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) to deliver automated infrastructure inspection and management services for its operations.
The company, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of aerospace giant Boeing, announced the deal with the global oil giant at yesterday’s Commercial UAV Show.
The contract covers Shell’s operations in Queensland, Australia, and it is understood to be a first-of-its-kind programme for the Australian market.
The companies said that the Surat Basin project represents a significant move towards the use of autonomous air vehicles and advanced analytics in the area of broad acre infrastructure operations and maintenance.
Vice president at Insitu Commercial and general manager Insitu Pacific, Andrew Duggan, revealed the tie-up with Shell’s QGC business was the culmination of two years of extensive testing and evaluation of Insitu Commercial’s aerial sensing, data analysis and data distribution capabilities.
He explained: “Insitu’s robust systems consistently excel in rugged environments, and have the range to cover broad areas to provide vital analysis and alerts to site managers, safety experts and surveyors.”
Bill Langin, QGC’s general manager upstream, added: “This project is a global first for Beyond Visual Line of Site (BVLOS) Remotely Piloted Aerial System operations. The partnership will allow QGC to drive improvements in our safety performance, more efficiently and effectively survey our infrastructure and reduce our footprint on the environment.
“The inclusion of BVLOS RPAS in our overall Smart CSG suite of technology means we will potentially reduce travel by up to 800,000km/year.”
The BVLOS flight operations are conducted in the Surat Basin over a broad area of Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approved airspace encompassing over 700,000 Ha. The employment of RPAS has provided multiple increases in both efficiency and safety.
The inspection of wells and other infrastructure hardware components, including tanks, valves, floats, vents and pipe, among others, is now largely automated, saving many hundreds of thousands of kilometers of driving for QGC inspection crews.