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Equinor uses drone to complete transport operation to offshore installation

Equinor announced that it completed a logistics operation with a drone to an offshore installation. The drone flew a 3D-printed diesel nozzle holder for the Troll A lifeboat system from the Mongstad base to the North Sea. The operation was completed efficiently and according to plan.

“Development is rapid, and we see a huge potential within drone technology that could transform the way we operate, both under and above the sea surface,” Arne Sigve Nylund, Equinor’s Executive Vice President for Development and Production Norway, said. “Equinor aims to lead the way in utilizing new technology on the Norwegian continental shelf.”

“Drones could reinforce safety, boost production efficiency and contribute to lower CO2 emissions from Norwegian oil and gas,” Mr Nylund added. “Drones will also play a role as we shape new energy solutions on the Norwegian shelf.”

The test flight spanning around 80 km to the Troll field took about one hour, at an altitude of approximately 5000 ft and was the first of its kind, where an actual freight operation was conducted over a lengthy distance to an operating offshore installation. The drone was a Camcopter s-100 model, manufactured by Schiebel.

This type of drone has been thoroughly tested and has logged around 70,000 flying hours from other types of operations within the defense and coast guard services. The drone is more than four m long and weighs in excess of 100 kg. It has a cruising speed of more than 150 km/h and it can carry cargo weighing up to 50 kg.

The operator of the drone is the Sandnes-based company Nordic Unmanned. Equinor and the drone operator have cooperated with the Civil Aviation Authority, Avinor Air Navigation Services and the Norwegian Communications Authority in completing this transport operation.

“Over the longer term, we expect to see new infrastructure for logistics and support operations, which can reinforce what we already have within vessels and helicopters,” Alena Korbovà Pedersen, who heads the work on developing logistics solutions in Equinor, said.

“If we are to develop the logistics solutions of the future on the Norwegian shelf, where drones could play an important role, we must cooperate across all of the industry’s players; operating companies, suppliers, the authorities and the trade union and safety interests,” Ms Pedersen added.

In addition to conducting logistics operations, airborne drones can also be used for inspections and observations of the technical condition of our offshore installations and onshore facilities. They have extremely advanced camera equipment and can be used in search and rescue operations, for example, to locate people who have fallen into the sea, or for early detection of pollution on the sea. These abilities were also tested during the flight.

Drones will also play a role in new energy solutions on the NCS. Drones can inspect wind turbines, deploy equipment to be used by personnel performing maintenance and repairs, and they can quickly deliver critical parts. Using drones will also assist in avoiding some vessel lifts that can be both more costly and leave a greater environmental footprint.

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