Insitu Pacific has announced that after 18 months of successful trials, natural gas company Queensland Gas Company (QGC), a Shell-owned business, is introducing the ScanEagle Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) to inspect gas wells, pipelines and processing facilities.
Insitu Pacific managing director Andrew Duggan said the unmanned Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations had never before been used commercially on this scale.
“By working closely together and with Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), the ScanEagle is helping QGC to begin streamlining its inspections, with benefits for both the local resources and agriculture sectors,” he said.
QGC is starting to conduct BVLOS operations in the Surat Basin of south-west Queensland on inspection and monitoring tasks for up to eight hours per day.
Until now, all inspections have been conducted by operations staff on the ground or by piloted aircraft.
Shell Australia country chair Andrew Smith said the RPAS operations were an example of collaboration across industry service providers.
“This innovative solution will improve safety by reducing the need for driving and use of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft,” Smith said.
“Over time and as we progressively introduce this technology, it will reduce inconvenience to landowners by cutting the number of land access requests, and the cost to QGC associated with regular on-the-ground visual inspections.”
The ScanEagle RPAS is being launched and recovered from QGC property and operated by Insitu Pacific personnel.
The ScanEagle RPAS has a three metre wingspan and operates between 1500-3000 feet, in compliance with CASA air safety regulations.