Pipelines are notoriously difficult to inspect due to the incredibly vast network they form. In the US, there are 218,970 miles of pipeline carrying a variety of media. Due to the recent surge in US energy production, this capacity is rising to transport US-derived energy to both international and national markets, with a 23,000-mile increase in liquid pipeline and 18,000-mile increase in oil pipeline in the last half-decade, alone. (7)
Aside from the difficulty of inspecting and maintaining infrastructure of this size, inspection is further complicated by the fact pipelines often run through difficult and remote locations, above and underground, through deserts, frozen land, marshes, or conflict zones.
Yet, the world and various economies depend on the vital supply of energy delivered via pipelines and failures or leaks can cause widespread social, economic, and ecological devastation. Between 1986-2018 there has been around 8,000 oil and gas pipeline incidents in the US alone, causing an annual spillage of 76,000, over 500 deaths, 2,300 injuries and $7 billion in damage! (8)
Vantage UAV drone-based inspection services offer speed, agility, efficiency, and high-quality data provision capabilities far superior to traditional methods of inspection and lend a range of benefits to the pipeline sector.
Don’t get left behind – join the future with Vantage UAV and implement drone-technology into your pipeline operations now to save costs, time, safeguard assets, flow and enable easy, efficient decisions regarding maintenance and management. Whatever the size of your portfolio, we can help.
Want to know more? Keep reading!
- Monitoring defects & damage and preventative maintenance planning
- Pipe insulation inspection
- Corrosion detection
- Corridor mapping
- Leak detection (Oil & Gas)
- Thermal imaging
- HD images and footage of site
- LiDAR technology, and or 3D modelling capabilities
- Repeatable inspection
- Pre-planned flight routes
- Full access to pipeline location and coverage of length
- Comprehensive aerial scope with high-quality zoom
Sky to Cloud Data Reporting
High-quality data collected during UAV inspection is relayed in clear, annotated reports, digitally formatted to be accessed conveniently from a desk, providing actionable information to clients, and enabling easy and efficient asset management. Our data storage and reporting solutions offer:
- Cloud based platform.
- Reporting portal which allows stakeholders to review and report upon vast data stores, quickly and easily.
- Data, HD/Multispectral footage and images, 3D and Corridor mapping resources are archived for easy viewing, tracking, and planning.
- Defects and damages are easily annotated and assigned severity ratings, enabling swift remedial action to be taken according to priority.
- Reports have multiple user access and multiple export formats.
- In-house data storage, archiving and analytics capabilities.
Full, turn-key solutions and support
Vantage UAV deliver turnkey solutions from full project management, flight planning and piloting, offering comprehensive support from initial consultation to final report. Our range of services and industry experts allow us to craft bespoke solutions to data management and provision challenges.
Vantage UAV collaborate closely with clients to understand their challenges, workflow, aims and provide the best solutions. Support is always available, from real people, whenever you need it.
Detect and Assess Physical Damages and Corrosion
During inspection, drones can be preprogrammed to follow the contours and length of the pipeline to thoroughly assess and survey surface damages, such as gouges, dents, wrinkles, ruptures, tears, welding defects, cracks and fissures.
Corrosion is a leading cause of failures in pipelines, caused either by substances in the external environment such as sewage or animal waste, or chemicals like fertilizer, or internally due to microbiological reactions or corrosive substances within the pipeline. Corrosion can cause welds to degrade and small surface holes to form on the pipeline, leading to small leaks which often go undetected during traditional methods of inspection.
During drone-based inspections, HD cameras can be used to capture high-quality images and footage of external damage and signs of internal and/or external corrosion. Inflight data and visual resources are used to generate a digital report identifying; joint failures, degradation of protective coating, bending, buckling and other issues along the surface of pipelines.
Reports generated via drone inspection data deliver vital information and assign priority ratings to any issues, enabling fast, effective decision-making regarding maintenance and repair work, which in turn prevents or preempts damage escalation leading to high-cost repairs, dangerous leaks, or damage to the environment.
Vantage UAV drone-based inspections employ a range of methods to accurately identify pipeline leaks and identify maintenance required to preempt or prevent them and protect the integrity of the pipeline structure.
HD cameras attached to drones performing comprehensive visual inspection detect surface damage to the pipeline which could indicate a leak. In the case of buried pipelines, HD images and footage is captured of surrounding vegetation to be analyzed for signs of leaks; for instance, dying vegetation can indicate a methane leak.
Paired with Thermal cameras, drone inspections can increase the accuracy of leak detection and facilitate prevention. The temperature of medium transported in pipelines differs from its surroundings; thermal cameras attached to drones quickly and accurately detect the exact location of leaks by monitoring areas of heat loss. Thermographic inspections provide key information enabling operators to preempt and prevent leaks, such as flagging and monitoring thinning pipe insulation and damage, so that repairs can be carried out before leaks occur.
Multispectral and Infra-Red cameras can also be used to determine and diagnose the nature of a leak by monitoring radiation absorption.
Uses & Benefits
Cost & Time Efficient
How our solutions reduce your operating cost in the short and long term.
Pipeline structures are long and often run through inhospitable or inaccessible areas. Traditional methods of inspection are slow, and it is often impossible to manually inspect a pipeline in its entirety, leading to sample areas being accessed and assessed for convenience.
The labor intensive, long, hazardous nature of manual pipeline inspection means it is highly expensive. Whilst manned-aircraft inspections can cover more ground/pipeline, faster, it is still a high-cost method and access to difficult areas or close range to pipelines cannot be guaranteed. Pressure and Flow meters are equally expensive and unreliable methods of monitoring pipeline monitoring and are unable to cover all areas.
Drone speed and vantage enables the inspection of vast lengths of pipeline in short time periods. With the potential to perform multiple inspections via drone fleet, inspection speed can be increased further.
The agility and range of drones enables fast access to difficult locations and pre-planned flight paths can navigate obstacles or challenges in advance to guarantee the speed and ease of inspection.
Due to their ability to execute inspections quickly and easily, drones are an efficient, cost-effective choice for pipeline inspection. With cutting edge data provision technology and sophisticated storage and analysis systems, Vantage UAV drone-based inspections provide insight and information facilitating fast repair and maintenance work, preventing rising costs from escalated damage or leaks.
Full Scope, Survey and Access
Pipeline systems can be difficult or impossible to access for inspection via traditional methods. Underground pipelines cannot be inspected visually or by helicopter and pipelines above ground can run across hundreds of kilometers in unhospitable areas with limited road access.
Helicopter inspections may also struggle to detect small defects or leaks due to being unable to get close enough to thoroughly survey pipelines.
Drones can access difficult, dangerous, and restricted locations and predetermined flights are able to survey the length of a pipeline in its entirety, whilst maintaining proximity for thorough inspection and high-quality data provision.
The vantage point provided by the UAV enables the surroundings to be considered; for instance, during pipeline inspections, the surrounding area and vegetation can be checked for damage indicative of a gas leak.
High-quality data provision, analysis and insight on pipeline condition
Traditionally, pipeline operators have relied on manual inspection methods, or aircrafts with ‘spotters’ who assess the area for damage and inform the operator of their findings. Pressure/Flow meters are also used to indicate faults.
Access is a major issue with these areas of inspection; helicopters can fly higher and increase overall scope but cannot fly low enough to pipelines to detect smaller faults and leaks and images taken are often low resolution. Manual access to pipelines is even more challenging given that they run through areas with low access on difficult or unsafe terrain.
As many pipelines run underground, damage cannot be detected by eye using traditional methods and requires sophisticated technology used at close range. Leaks are also hard to reliably detect visually or by scent, and accurately locating the site of a leak is near-impossible using these methods.
Due to the difficulty and expense of traditional methods, inspection is often limited to pre-determined routes dictated by statistically sampling, meaning much of the pipeline and key data on its condition missed.
Due to their superior ability to access hard to reach areas, and the technology they are equipped with, drones offer unrivalled data collection during above and underground pipeline surveys. Able to obtain a close range to pipelines, drones capture HD images and recordings of small surface defects, and with the aid of LiDAR and thermal imaging, can provide operators with insight into underground pipeline condition and accurate leak detection.
Drone inspection informs operators of vital issues and enables swift decision making and repair planning, preventing damage from escalating and leading to high-cost repairs and preempting leaks by monitoring pipe insulation thinning or surface holes.
Vantage UAV cloud-based data platforms ensure data collected via flight is organized, presented, and stored to ensure maximal benefit to the operator when making decisions or tracking the condition of the pipeline. Operators also have convenient, unlimited access to historic data which can help to track weaknesses and anticipate issues.
Safer inspections and powerlines
Safety is our priority
Pipelines often run through remote, inhospitable locations placing technicians performing manual inspection at risk. The detection and assessment of leaks is especially dangerous, as technicians can be exposed to harmful chemicals, liquids, and gases.
Helicopter inspection can also be hazardous depending on weather conditions and obtaining a close enough proximity to pipelines whilst navigating obstacles can be dangerous.
Drone-based inspection significantly reduces the access dangers posed to technicians during manual or helicopter inspection processes. Flights are meticulously pre-planned with predetermined routes, keeping technicians safe, whilst gathering vital, high-quality data and information.
The accuracy and quality of data collected ensures that only essential, necessary repairs requiring the attendance of personnel are performed, and that risks are identified beforehand, enabling adequate preparation to increase the safety and speed of repairs.
Safeguarding the Environment and Public
Keep your operation green
Pipeline structures are used to transport hazardous liquids and gases meaning leaks, if undetected, can lead to fires and explosions, causing damage to the surrounding environment, homes, infrastructure, and potential loss of life. Leaks can also lead to large economic losses to the operator.
For instance, studies estimate that in a 20-inch pipeline, just a 1% leak can lead to a loss of 450,000 barrels a year and cause irreparable damage to up to 10 square kilometers (9).
Drone-based inspections utilize a range of cutting-edge technology to thoroughly and accurately detect leaks to allow swift repair, or maintenance work to preempt them, limiting damage to the surrounding environment, public, and infrastructure.
Early detection of small leaks or insulation thinning can prevent fires, explosions or media leaking into the environment and causing loss of life.
In the event of a leak drones can assess damage and enable emergency response or repairs to be organized efficiently and safely.