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From the Sky to the Sea: How Natural Gas and Oil Puts Tech to Work

Using tech to meet energy needs while prioritizing workers and the environment

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September 9, 2020

The future of technology is here — and it’s enabling the natural gas and oil companies to operate faster, more safely, and more accurately than ever before. New technology makes it possible for energy companies to minimize the risks faced by its workers, protect the environment, and explore new solutions to better position the industry to effectively meet the nation’s energy needs.

Across the board, natural gas and oil companies are incorporating a number of technologies to better manage its infrastructure. From identifying methane leaks to inspecting operations deep underwater, these technologies are critical to running operations as smoothly as possible.

Here are four examples of how the industry is using technology to improve operations:

Limiting risks to safety

Shell is using commercial drones to identify risks to safety across its shale operations. In 2018, Shale and its partner, Avita Systems, gained approval to use flying commercial drones detect oil and gas leaks, corrosion, abnormal heat signature, and monitor road conditions. Not only does this technology help to identify issues faster — and, therefore, get them fixed faster — it also helps to reduce risks to personal safety by giving the operations team better insight about the condition of facilities in advance.

Reducing carbon emissions

BHP is investing in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to reduce emissions from its processes. In March 2019, they committed to invest $6 million in Carbon Engineering Ltd to advance and accelerate the development of Direct Air Capture, which removes CO2 from the atmosphere. This technology, which takes in water and energy and releases a stream of pure, compressed CO2, has a range of uses, such as the production of clean-burning liquid fuels with ultra-low carbon intensity.

Detecting leaks in real-time

In January 2019, Baker Hughes adopted new technologies to detect methane leaks faster in order to reduce emissions. Their system, LUMEN, is a ground- and drone-based system that can detect methane leaks and stream live data to a central control system from its sensors to a cloud-based software so that the team can act quickly.

Improving underwater operations

autonomous underwater vehicles

In partnership with Chevron and Total, subsea engineering company Oceaneering has developed autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) that use a suite of sensors including cameras, lasers, sonar and leak detection sensors to inspect sea pipelines for deteriorations or leaks that need to be addressed. This innovative technology, which can take on up to a 48-hour dive, improves both the accuracy and cost efficiency of previous underwater pipeline inspection technology. In the future, AUVs could be used to inspect other deepwater facilities.

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