A four metre-long drone has recently flown a 3D-printed spare part for the Troll A platform’s lifeboat system from Equinor’s Mongstad base to the offshore installation 80km away. The trial project, believed to be the first of its kind involving freight taken to an offshore platform, took the drone about one hour as it flew at a height of just over 1,500m. The part had been redesigned, modelled and printed because it is no longer manufactured and is hard to obtain. The drone, a Camcopter s-100 unit, has been thoroughly tested in a range of applications, and has clocked up around 70,000 flying hours in defence and coastguard services. Weighing more than 100kg, it can carry up to 50kg of cargo at speeds of more than 150km/h.
Other capabilities were also tested on the test flight. These included the use of advanced high-res cameras to spot people who have fallen into the sea, as well as identifying pollution and its causes. Drones like this can also be deployed potentially for the inspection of wind turbines and to supply equipment required by technical personnel performing maintenance functions.
Arne Sigve Nylund, Equinor’s executive vice president for Development and Production Norway, commented: “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. Drones could reinforce safety, boost production efficiency, and contribute to lower CO2 emissions from Norwegian oil and gas. Drones will also play a role as we shape new energy solutions on the Norwegian shelf.”