Aerial Drones: The Use of Drones in Oil and Gas Pipeline Surveillance

According to research carried out by scientists at the University of Aberdeen, the use of aerial drones monitoring oil and gas pipelines can bring significant benefits to operators.

Traditionally, inspecting and monitoring are carried out on foot or by helicopter, so it is clear to scientists that using drones makes total sense.

Because pipeline networks require regular inspection and monitoring for maintenance, safety and security, using drones can bring new efficiencies that will work, especially in remote and/or hard-to-reach areas.

The risk posed by oil or gas pipelines is a spill or a leakage that increases the likelihood of not only an explosion, but also a potential environmental diaster.

Pipeline monitoring requires the use of specific sensors that can detect rust or corrosion. If the pipeline is located beneath the ground, the existence of methane or other threats to surrounding vegetation could eventually destroy it.

Drone technology has emerged to a place where the sensors are now very sophisticated and small enough to mount on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Drones can be programmed to either cover large areas in a systematic way, or to reach areas that are difficult to reach. In instances where there needs to be tremendous flexibility and agility in being able to reach extremely tight places, there are the tiny nano-drones which come in various tiny sizes.

Another great advantage of aerial drones is its ability to reach long distances in a very short time. This is very important since oil and gas pipelines span thousands of miles. Because of such distances, keeping outsiders from causing problems is a real challenge. In addition, weather conditions are another serious concern. And, what is so true in many endeavors, timing is everything! At times a few minutes can make a tremendous difference, and drones can travel up to 100 miles an hour.


Although surveillance, inspection, monitoring and maintenance of the oil and gas pipelines are hardly interesting news, it is vital to our safety as the number of pipelines are increasing, and their number of years of usage is only getting worse. This makes us all a little less safe. Drones can significantly increase their presence in this sector of industry, an industry that is so vital to our everyday lives.

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