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James Stafford

James Stafford

James Stafford is the Editor of Oilprice.com

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Drone Technology Gets Energized

Only a decade ago, drones were the purview of the military, but today we are realizing the commercial potential of this technology and the numerous cost-cutting applications for the oil and gas industry in the future. For everything from exploration and pipeline leak detection to oil spill clean-up assistance, drones are poised to become a necessity rather than luxury.  

First, let’s just clarify: Drone is just another name for robot, but what we’re talking about here is the Predator-style, unmanned aerial vehicle—maybe a bit smaller, and certainly not weaponized.

It turns out that drones have a number of applications that don’t involve annoying Pakistan by launching bombing raids from across the border in Afghanistan, or sending them out to spy in Iranian airspace (and sometimes getting caught).

We’re bringing this up now because it is more than likely that as of September 2015, the US government will begin allowing private companies to fly commercial drones over US airspace, and this will be the stage-setter for a new market for drone technology as it targets the oil and gas industry. (The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, AUVSI, projects that the drone industry will impact the economy by more than $82.1 billion by 2025 overall). 

The idea is being tested right now in Alaska, where there is more remote territory to experiment. But where it should really take off is in the Arctic, where the remote and difficult-to-access terrain…




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