Equinor Studying Drone Use in Offshore Oil and Gas Environment

Image: Ole Jørgen Bratland/Equinor
Image: Ole Jørgen Bratland/Equinor

Norwegian drone company Nordic Unmanned has signed a contract with energy giant Equinor to conduct a study on how Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) could be used in offshore airspace between installations and vessels, in search and rescue (SAR) operations, to and from
shore travel, and more.

"The study will identify suitable solutions for comprehensive operational testing during the summer of 2021, and will focus on the autonomous integration of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in an unmanned traffic management (UTM) airspace, autonomous flight and landings systems, identification of available technology and regulatory requirements," Nordic Unmanned said.

To remind, the two companies last year achieved a "world's first" when they successfully sent a drone carrying a 3D-printed cargo from shore to an offshore production platform in the North Sea.

In a flight spanning around 80 kilometers from the Mongstad base onshore to the Troll field in the North Sea offshore Norway, the drone carried a 3D-printed part for the lifeboat system. The flight took one hour, at an altitude of approx. 5000 feet, or 1524 meters.

Commenting on the new contract with Equinor on Friday, Vice President of Logistics and Robotization at Nordic Unmanned, Pål Kristensen said: “We are honored to continue our work with Equinor to implement Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) to increase safety & efficiency, create increased data value and reduce carbon footprint. 

"In 2020 we created aviation history together when we completed the world’s first logistics operation with a drone to an offshore installation. This next phase is an important step in the right direction towards a full-scale implementation of autonomous Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in the offshore oil and gas industry, and we are excited to be selected for this opportunity."

Read more about Drones on Offshore Engineer

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