Drones Used to Improve Safety on Eni’s Oil Rigs

February 15, 2017

A British drone operator has won a contract to inspect rigs operated by one of the world’s largest oil producers.

Sky Futures Ltd. will deploy drones at Eni S.p.A. facilities as part of a global three-year contract. The company expects airborne analysis and visualization technology to help improve safety by forecasting issues before they occur.

Safety on Eni rigs came under focus last year when a worker was injured on the company’s Goliat facility in the Barents Sea, shortly after unions had expressed concerns. That was followed by a fire on an Eni offshore platform in the Republic of Congo, which resulted in the death of a crane driver and injured five workers. The company said in July that injury frequency during the first half of 2016 fell 11 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Sky Futures co-founder Chris Blackford declined to comment on the value of the contract, but said the Middlesex, U.K.-based company is in discussions with other oil producers.

In addition to their safety benefits — traditional methods of inspection can require workers to dangle from cables — drones are also more efficient. Humans can take eight weeks to gather the same information that Sky Futures’ machines capture in as little as five days, Blackford previously said.

–With assistance from Angelina Rascouet.

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