Last week, British Petroleum’s (BP) North Sea business completed its pilot project to remotely monitor methane emissions of its offshore assets by using an unmanned aerial system (UAS or drone). BP used a fixed-wing UAS with sensor technology originally designed by NASA for the Mars Curiosity Rover. The UAS circled one of BP’s offshore platforms at a radius of 1,800 feet for 90 minutes and traveled a total of approximately 115 miles. The drone was managed autonomously once it was airborne and was remotely tracked by a team of three pilots using satellite communications and radio link from an onshore base on a remote island. During the flight, the drone live-streamed the data collected by its SeekOps methane sensor.

BP’s North Sea regional president, Ariel Flores, said, “Improving our knowledge, understanding and performance by testing new technologies and working closely with suppliers is central to the North Sea’s carbon-reduction plan, which aims to limit greenhouse emissions in our North Sea business. This pilot project represents a significant step forward in our ability to do that.”