Oil majors use drones, other technology to weather oil price crisis

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Oil majors including Statoil, Shell and Chevron are experimenting with various technologies, from drones and drill design to data management, to drive down costs and weather a deep downturn, Reuters reports.

Crude prices have more than halved since mid-2014, forcing companies to cut billions of dollars in costs and as such, they are increasingly looking to smarter tech and design to make savings. French oil and gas major Total said it was now using drones to carry out detailed inspections on some of its oil fields following a trial at one of its Elgin/Franklin platforms in the North Sea. ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips and BP have also followed suit.

Statoil’s giant Johan Sverdrup field which is due to start production in 2019, made large savings already by focusing on the most efficient technology and designs from the beginning. Shell has also developed a new type of pipe, called a steel lazy wave riser, to carry oil and gas from its deepwater Stones field in the Gulf of Mexico for processing. It bends to absorb the motion of the sea and the floating platform, which the company says boosts production at extreme depths.

Chevron is using a robotic device to clean and check the inside of pipelines on their Erskine field in the North Sea more quickly. The improvement has helped raise the field’s daily production rate to the highest in two years. Since the price slump, companies including Shell, ExxonMobil and Statoil have also started using software that can better manage their data to cut wastage in the ordering of construction materials.