Commercial drones are beginning to receive praise from numerous industries as costs associated with inspection can be greatly reduced through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a savings potential that is extremely attractive to the oil and gas industry.

Forbes Report

Forbes published an article on December 28 depicting numerous benefits UAVs offer to the oil and gas industry. They shared Cape's director of oil and gas Renner Vaughn’s insights on drone activity in the oil and gas industry.

Renner Vaughn stated, “Remote vehicles, including UAVs and underwater ROVs, will be operationalized, as enterprises get beyond the testing phases and begin to realize the safety advantages, the time saved on asset inspections and the situational awareness that live aerial video can provide.”

Renner suggested that drones provide immense value as a situational awareness tool. They can support and enhance emergency response teams in the event of a fire, oil spill or other unforeseen emergencies. Drones can be deployed as a first responder, providing valuable insights without the safety risks or time-lapses associated with traditional inspections.

Renner also suggested that drones not only provide increased visibility in inspection operations, but that they enable companies to safely assess, monitor and manage physical assets whereas traditional methods have proven costly, time-intensive and generally inefficient in comparison.

Cape Aerial Telepresence

Cape aerial telepresence is a cloud platform for drone operation and data management. Cape markets theirSource: Cape Productions, Inc.Source: Cape Productions, Inc. platform as an easy-to-use, economical solution. The intuitive interface is designed for subject matter experts and after a training program, flight control and aerial telepresence can be conducted by existing team members, allowing operators to capture insightful data that might be otherwise over-looked by third-party drone operators.

Cape’s solution allows technicians to conduct field inspections from anywhere in the world. It addresses any amount of disconnect between subject matter experts and field pilots. Their aerial telepresence solution also offers live streaming of asset inspections, fostering collaboration while saving time and money.

Cape identifies several uses in the oil and gas industries. They found drone applications for chimney and flare inspections, asset monitoring, security monitoring and as a situational awareness tool throughout the entire production stream. From well-pads to pipelines and storage tanks, Cape’s aerial telepresence platform can reduce the number of routine visits needed by actual personnel.

Intel Case Study

Intel and Cyberhawk’s case study on drone inspection of flare stacks at a gas terminal in Saint Fergus, Scotland, further illustrates the benefits of using UAVs for oil and gas inspection operations.

Traditionally inspection methods require facility shut-downs. Furthermore, manual inspection methods pose safety risks as inspection personnel relies on fall protection equipment in order to fully assess the health of physical assets.

Inspections completed with an Intel Falcon 8+ drone resulted in increased speed and accuracy while saving as much as five million dollars a day in potential production losses. They captured 1,100 images in ten flights. In under two days, 12 GB of data was captured while the facility remained operational. Traditionally a three-person team would have needed three days to complete this task with mandatory shut-downs.


Aerial inspections in the oil and gas industry can be facilitated through the use of commercial drones. They act to reduce employee risk, expedite inspection times, increase inspection accuracy and limit facility shut-downs. They can also be deployed as a situational awareness tool, further reducing employee risks while gathering valuable insights in the event of an emergency.