Shell’s Drone Development Program
Surveillance drones are used daily across Shell’s global portfolio. Historically, there have been some unique challenges to operationalizing drones in our shales assets, especially in the US. This is because, US regulations require drones to stay within range of the pilot’s vision, limiting their geographic reach and operational scope.
Shell-Avitas Systems drone development program, currently piloted at the Permian asset, is overcoming some of these challenges. In late September, the FAA granted Avitas Systems first approval to fly drones for civil use Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) with the assistance of radar in Loving County.
Our drone pilot has demonstrated the potential for multi-mission surveillance drones operated beyond visual line of sight and supported by advanced analytics to be an integral part of our operations not only in Permian but across our shale portfolio in North America and Argentina.
Significant Efficiency and Safety Benefits
Shell operators in the Permian Basin travel from site-to-site across hundreds of miles to conduct surveillance tasks. Extensive road travel takes valuable manhours away from core maintenance and operational tasks. Drones will take operators off the roads, increasing the efficiency of Shell’s workforce, reducing road safety-related risks and roadway impacts from cumulative use.
Surveillance drones may enable automated detection of oil and gas leaks, corrosion, abnormal heat signatures, presence of wildlife, road conditions and more. They also give operations teams better insight into the overall condition of its assets, and how the conditions change over time. This could enable teams to identify issues sooner and fix them faster.
Enabler of Accelerated Development in Permian
Drones have the potential to give us unmatched reach across our area of interest in the Permian Basin – 500,000 acres (260,000 net acres) - and superior visibility over our 1,300 operated and non-operated wells. This, among other key elements of our iShale programs, will enable accelerated development activities in the Basin.
1 Royal Dutch Shell plc and its various subsidiaries and affiliates (the “Shell Group”) are separate legal entities. In this announcement the expression “Shell” is sometimes used for convenience where references are made to those entities individually or collectively. Likewise, the words “we”, “us” and “our” are also used to refer to companies in the Shell Group in general or those who work for them, and these references do not reflect the operational or corporate structure of, or the relationship between, entities in the Shell Group. Nothing in this announcement is intended to suggest that any entity in the Shell Group, including Royal Dutch Shell plc, directs or is responsible for the day-to-day operations of any other entity in the Shell Group.