Air Control Entech (ACE) has launched the “world’s first” lightweight optical gas imaging inspection system for use in the oil and gas industry.
Weighing in at less than 5000 grams, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is less than half the weight of its competitors allowing it to operate in the most challenging environments, according to the Aberdeen-based remote inspection technology specialist.
It can accurately pinpoint the location of gas leaks from more than 100 metres away, improving safety offshore by reducing the risks of fire or explosion.
The system can be used in a variety of upstream, midstream and downstream environments, including refineries, process plants and decommissioning projects such as well plugging and abandonment.
ACE said it anticipates that the new system will double its revenue next year and allow it to employ an as many as five additional workers.
Trade body Oil and Gas UK recently revealed the number of oil and gas leaks in the North Sea in 2019 increased by almost a quarter to 125. The vast majority of those releases recorded were of gas.
The UAV’s camera, which has digital zoom capability, uses colour coding to help identify different substances and relays high definition footage back to inspectors, said Air Control Entech.
Enhanced data from optical gas imaging also means the system can help improve maintenance plans, reduce unplanned shutdowns and meet regulatory requirements.
Air Control Entech was founded in 2016 and provides inspection solutions for complex problems on land, sea or air.
Kieran Hope, COO at Air Control Entech, said: “Our optical gas imaging system has the potential to change the way the industry inspects the safety of its assets.
“Now operators can visualise exactly where a gas leak has occurred as opposed to relying on sensing systems, which can only provide accuracy to within a 3ft radius.
“In environments where winds can confuse sensing systems, seeing the leak rather than relying on sniffing for it has obvious benefits.
“Visual gas inspections were previously limited to either deck level or reduced use of UAV due to camera weight and flight time capacity.
“However operators can now reach heights and sites that were previously inaccessible and can double flight time to increase valuable data gathering.”