Drone's to help producers become more efficient in oil patch

Bloomberg/Fuel Fix:
General Electric Co. has a solution for U.S. oil and natural gas explorers struggling to save more money after squeezing drilling costs by more than a third during the past two years.

Raven, a helicopter drone being developed in part by GE at its new $125 million oil and gas technology center in Oklahoma City, is being tested to sniff for methane emissions at well sites. GE proved during a trial run in July that Raven could find gas leaking from a pair of well sites a half mile from each other in the Fayetteville Shale of Arkansas.

RELATED: Drones and data could dominate future oil fields

Detecting and stopping leaks, a requirement the Environmental Protection Agency enacted earlier this year, is the first of many planned applications for oilfield drones to make workers more productive in an industry that has suffered billions of dollars in spending cuts, hundreds of thousands of layoffs and more than 100 bankruptcies in North America over the past two years. A broader benefit will come from Raven’s custom software, used to plan flight paths and easily interpret the mountains of data it gathers.

“When you think of Project Raven and the usage of new tools and applications, it’s going to be key to take the industry forward,” Lorenzo Simoneli, chief executive officer at GE Oil & Gas, said in an interview Tuesday from his company’s new research center, a day ahead of its grand opening. “There’s a lot that you can do going forward to help drive productivity.”

The world’s largest oilfield contractors are grappling with new ways to set themselves apart with inventions that not only capture massive amounts of data but also make it user-friendly for oil companies. GE’s foray into drones comes at a time when regulators are still mapping out rules for their commercial use.
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There is more.

As painful as the downturn in the oil market has been, it has made US producers much more efficient and much more competitive with producers in other parts of the world.   The drones can make the inspection of wells about three times faster than previous methods.

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